The Radio Firing Squad: The Sequel

Eddie & JoBo, Glenn Cosby, Effie Rolfe join ranks of radio’s unemployed

For the second time this year, one-day mass layoffs have rocked the radio industry (and just like before, the layoffs happened… on a Thursday.)

And similar to last March when they laid off more than 70 employees, Clear Channel was front and center of these mass layoffs: an estimated 100 people were laid off from various positions within the company across the country. While escaping the ax last time, four on-air personalities and other positions were eliminated from Clear Channel Chicago, as reported by Robert Feder: WVAZ-FM evening host Glenn Cosby, and WGRB-AM midday host Effie Rolfe, who was with the station for a little over two decades.

Also departing is Marketing and Promotions manager Angie Zdanowski, per All Access.

Once again, All Access kept a running tab of most Clear Channel employees who were cut. Detroit was particularly hit hard, with longtime veteran Frankie Darcell exiting Urban AC WMXD-FM, along with five others from the cluster. Other markets where personnel were let go include Los Angeles, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus (Ohio), Atlanta, Houston, Miami, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Denver. Like Detroit, Denver was hit hard with eight positions eliminated.

And the personnel exits weren’t limited to Clear Channel: CBS-owned WJMK-FM (known as K-Hits) let longtime broadcasters Eddie Volkman and Joe Bohannon go after only 21 months on the air, the exact time frame WJMK has had its current “K-Hits” format, which is based on Classic Hits from the 1960’s through the 1980’s. However, ratings may be to blame for their departure: the team was tied for 20th place in adults 25-54 in morning drive. Despite rumors that WJMK would become an affiliate of CBS’ new Sports Radio Network, station officials said there are no plans for a format flip. WJMK will remain jockless until a new morning show can be launched. Eddie & JoBo (who are also spokesmen for United Auto Insurance commercials), insist they’ll be back on the airwaves in Chicago.

Just a few days ago, Julian Nieh departed Eddie & JoBo’s old station, WBBM-FM (B96) after four years in morning drive with Jamar “JNiice” McNeil. Both replaced Eddie & JoBo after their 21-year run came to a close in November 2008.

Of note: the last time Clear Channel announced major layoffs, Cumulus released WLS-AM/FM’s Michael Damsky from his longtime position on the same day.

To put all of this in perspective, former radio personality Don Tanner, now a marketing executive from Tanner Friedman in the Detroit suburb of Farmington Hills, said it the best. From the Detroit News:

“Why should the next generation… those raised on iPods and downloading…listen to terrestrial radio?” What is the value proposition? The music alone is not enough. Live, local personalities are more vital than ever to radio’s future.”

Wonderful observation. It’s too bad many of the article’s commenters would rather focus on politics (involving Darnell’s support of Detroit’s former indicted mayor) and stupid philosophy quotes than what’s going on here. Obviously, most of these people are more than qualified to be in a radio management training program.

And this comes as FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is considering loosening media ownership rules, so big media companies – like Clear Channel – can get even bigger. Already, we’re seeing a great consolidation TV station rush downstate with Sinclair and Nexstar in the hunt for more properties. Haven’t we been down this road before with former chairman Kevin Martin? More consolidation will likely be the death knell for this once-proud medium. Wasn’t President Obama’s re-election plan was to create jobs, not eliminate them? The only job he should eliminate is Genachowski’s.

Since the FCC doesn’t care and with corporate conglomerates in control, the only thing that’s assured for radio’s future is another announcement of mass layoffs.

Same time, same place nine months from now? Probably even sooner than that. I can see All Access getting ready to prepare another list.


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