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Tuesday, April 3, 2012
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The Truth Behind a "Staff Adjustment"

The radio industry bug, as everyone who has worked in it knows, induces a hypnotic state when it bites. After meeting that little bug, you can go through decades with a love for radio that won't allow visions of yourself working in any other industry.

Only, as in any love affair when there's one side working harder than the other to keep things going, the magic eventually dims. You work, but never consider it a job until you start pulling workloads that once were the responsibility of five other people.

For the tens of thousands of individuals who sat back watching as a few dozen radio executives walked away with multi-million dollar annual salaries, there's a feeling that floats high in the throat when you go to stretch your budget and make your monthly bill payments; could radio now be a scam?

This is not a question that rings across the whole radio industry, as small to medium markets still have owners who care. But, when you look at the major players there are few who are willing to give straigh answers. And that, as Paul Harvey used to say, is the rest of the story.

"Now that the bean counters are controlling radio's every move, things are not always what they are reported to be - especially when the reporting trade is owned by the company that it's reporting on." Before getting to today's main item, cruise over to and do a search for the term "radio." (Make sure to click the "Most Recent" tab at the top of the returns because it shows how little movement there is in the radio industry today.)

From the top 30 returns we have three stories on the Rush Limbaugh fiasco, 1 on Pandora having too much inventory, and only 1 story of promise titled: "AOL Veteran Castelli on His Tough New Job: Bringing Ad Revenue to IHeartRadio." The rest of the returns have nothing to do with radio, content or advertising.

Worse, no articles at AdAge - in those top 30 returns - have anything to do with radio advertising as a viable or creative way to reach an audience. I could stop the story here because that speaks volumes about what you'll learn next. But, let's continue.

A reason why we see so little recognition for the radio industry is because it is caught up in yesterday, with a heavy dose of using smoke and mirrors to tell its story. Let's use the recent Clear Channel "Staff Adjustments" as a good example of how this industry is self destructing with the help of its primary news source - trade publications.

This last round of "firings," "downsizing," "layoffs," or "improvements," as Clear Channel Vice President of Marketing & Entertainment Angel Aristone explains, is done to make Clear Channel better. Her quote: "Like every successful business, our strategy continues to evolve as we move forward as a company and that creates some new jobs, and unfortunately eliminates others." These words come within the same press release wherein she states, "We are constantly evaluating our organization and structure to make sure we are as well positioned as possible to continue to lead in the evolving marketplace."

That part about "Staff Adjustments" was the headline as Clear Channel-owned Inside Radio reported the story. Its opening sentence was this: "While it currently works to fill nearly two hundred job openings, Clear Channel says as part of its ongoing analysis of staffing structure it yesterday made several layoffs."

So, we have this radio industry problem where it's not getting recognition outside of industry publications. Nor does it seem to be doing anything within reason to help bring about the "compelling programming" everyone hears touted, regularly, by executives in charge. That's why I sat down to go over those "nearly 200 job openings" Inside Radio claimed that Clear Channel was working to fill. Look for yourself at what's listed. Here's the synopsis of what you'll find.

The jobs listing page covers 4 Clear Channel divisions: Airports, Corporate Headquarters, Media & Entertainment, and Outdoor. Job openings are stretched over a period ranging from March 3, 2012 to October 11, 2010. But here's what's important - just what positions are being filled?

Taking a quick scan of the lesser posts we have 1 in TV, and 1 for a person to hang billboard signs. 14 are part-time positions. 2 are for interns.

Here's the rest of the breakout for the positions that Clear channel has decided will help it "evolve as we move forward as a company and that creates some new jobs." (While reading, keep thinking about how big a company Clear Channel is.)

On Air includes...
2 Traffic Reporters
2 Hosts, who will also act as digital content suppliers
4 Programmers
1 News Anchor
11 Part Time Hosts
2 Hosts, who double as Asst. PDs
7 Board Ops (4 Part Time)
2 Ops Managers
1 Phone Screener
2 Producers (1 Part Time)
9 Promotions Personnel (2 Part Time)
1 Traffic Info Gatherer

Engineering, Finance, and Graphics offer 3, 11, and 4 positions, respectively.

There are 12 IT positions open of which only 2 are for software developers. 4 are in management, 3 to create online content, 2 will design concepts for digital assets, and 1 will be on the street as an "Integrated Media Consultant."

In Management, Marketing, Office, and Operations, Clear Channel is looking to fill 2, 3, 4, and 1 positions, respectively.

Which brings us to the elephant in a room that is designed to improve the product and revenue of Clear Channel: 107 sales positions are listed. In order, they are for 10 assistants, 1 in continuity, 14 sales managers, 8 working support roles, 2 in traffic sales, and 73 persons on the street.

To receive a spreadsheet covering all of these positions, just email me. To view this radio industry giant's job postings, from which this data was gathered, go here.

We've all been bitten by the radio bug, and it was quite a ride when the industry provided quality content within a confined world of audio options.

Now that the bean counters are controlling radio's every move, things are not always what they are reported to be - especially when the reporting trade is owned by the company that it's reporting on.

So view the above and make your own decision about whether the radio industry is still capable of providing "compelling content." Or, better yet, ask "how" it can. Because from the numbers of people being let go in this latest (and past) "adjustment," I'm sure that anyone who has produced content deemed compelling will tell you it's simply not possible with the human resources available today - or the positions that Clear Channel is trying to fill.

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