The radio firing squad

It’s a phrase we’ve been hearing for the last couple of years: it’s not a good day to be in the radio business. And no day was as brutal as this past Thursday.

In addition to Cumulus cutting loose Chicago radio veteran Michael Damsky after four years at WLS-AM/FM, Clear Channel had to come and announce scores of layoffs – again.

More than 70 people were laid off from Clear Channel stations nationwide on Thursday, according to radio website publication All Access. While no cuts were reported from Clear Channel’s Chicago cluster, other Midwestern cities were not as fortunate, as they were the hardest hit:

– Milwaukee saw a few people exit, including Urban Contemporary outlet WKKV-FM dropping DJO and DJ Hot Sauce, and WISN-AM cutting producer Jason Booth.

– Cleveland’s cluster saw seven people exit, including WTAM Saturday talk show host Bob Beck.

– Columbus, Oh.’s Clear Channel cluster lost eight people.

– Total Traffic, a traffic service owned by Clear Channel, completely shuttered its operations in Minneapolis-St. Paul and Salt Lake City and laid off most staff in Milwaukee and St. Louis. Total Traffic’s Chicago office will now handle St. Louis’ operations.

– In addition to Total traffic’s layoffs, St. Louis’ cluster lost four people, and approximately the same number of people were let go in Cincinnati.

More names in these same markets and well as others could surface in the next couple of days.

Meanwhile, president and general manager Michael Damsky was shown the door at WLS-AM/FM after nearly four years on Thursday, breaking the news to his followers (including myself) on Twitter. Damsky was previously at WXRT/WSCR for 24 years until 2008, when – you guessed it, he was laid off in a downsizing by CBS Radio, owners of the two stations. During his time there, Damsky rose through the ranks as vice president and general manager.

Damsky’s replacement is Dave Crowl, who will not only oversee the WLS combo, but also all of Cumulus’ radio properties in the Midwest. Crowl’s resume include president of Jacor’s radio division from 1996-99 and several exec positions with Clear Channel after Jacor and Clear Channel merged. Crowl’s boss when he was at Jacor? You guessed it – none other than Randy Michaels.

These layoff announcements have become quite common in the radio industry the last couple of years, particularly with Clear Channel and Cumulus radio groups. The phrases “leaving the building” and “on the beach” have been used so much at this point, you soon might actually see laid-off radio personnel setting up tents off the shores of Lake Michigan.

And now, it seems this industry is infected with vermits who worked under people like Michaels and Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey. And you wonder why radio has problems?