Clear Channel And Bain Capitol

Portland’s only progressive talk radio station just went silent and guess who is responsible? If you guessed Bain Capitol you would be correct.

Clear Channel quietly pruning scores of staff 

Owner of Toledo’s WSPD owes billions to Bain Capital

Clear Channel, the largest radio station operator in the country, is partially owned by Bain Capital, which is the company founded and previously run by former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Debt-ridden Clear Channel, headquartered in San Antonio, has been quietly pruning its corporate structure since late 2011.

On-air talent and behind-the-scenes employees have been shown the door or programming has been eliminated in markets that include Los Angeles, Boston, Tampa, San Diego, Madison, Wis., Springfield, Mo., Oklahoma City, Nashville, and, most recently, Toledo.

“Obviously they are trying to pay down their monster debt with Bain Capital,” said Tommy Butter, who was laid off from top-40 station WRVW-FM in Nashville in March. “Obviously, they are trying to fire their way to pay that debt down.”

They have been laying off people since 2011, just a few at a time.  I suppose it would have looked bad for Romney if it became obvious that Bain Capitol was responsible for  hundreds of layoffs just before the election.

Portland’s KPOJ was making money but the on air personalities and staff were let go and FOX sports radio is now broadcast instead.  But it wasn’t just progressive radio but conservatives that got the ax as well.

If you live in the Portland area go to Save KPOJ.

5 Comments

  1. While I am loathe to offer what may appear to be a defense of Bain, the fact of the matter is that layoffs at Clear Channel have been going on since long before last year, and have less to do with Mitt Romney’s former company than you’d think.

    I know this because I used to work for them, and saw the way the company worked long before Bain was involved. Even before the deregulation of the radio industry in the 90s, Clear Channel had already earned the nickname “Cheap Channel.”

    When deregulation happened, there was consolidation across the board, as larger companies gobbled up smaller outfits and trimmed staff, but Clear Channel was particularly ruthless in the way they went about getting rid of employees. I got out before the guano really hit the air conditioner, but just a year or so after I’d left, the guy who’d taken my old position at the one station was suddenly doing the same job for three stations. Then six.

    Another friend of mine who was a mid-level manager told me how his superiors had come to him with an interesting (to say the least) offer…for every salary he cut, he’d get 10 percent. Eliminate a position that paid 50k a year, and he’d get a 5k bonus check.

    At my old station, veterans who’d worked there for years were handed new contracts and non-competes to sign. There was no negotiation. They either agreed to the terms, or they were shown the door. The non-competes were enforced with a vengeance, and I’m fairly certain that in one case, Clear Channel’s lawyers were probably paid more to enforce a non-compete against a former co-worker than she made in a whole year.

    All of this happened when the company was still run by the Mays family.

    When the economy was riding high in the middle of the last decade, Clear Channel laid off massive numbers of people. When the recession hit, they did the same. It usually happens about this time of year, and I feel sorry for the few people I know that still work for Clear Channel. They won’t for long.

    As much as I’d like to lay this at the feet of Bain, I can’t. Clear Channel has been happily firing people for over 15 years. It is part of their corporate culture, and has been since long before venture capitalists got a hold of the company.

  2. cjjack
    I can’t disagree with anything you say but the problem remains the leveraged buyout.

  3. here in denver, clear channel imo destroyed the radio market for voices from across the spectrum. It dominates the market locally, and took moderate voices off, and put in ultra conservative ones, esp harsh on certain political matters. Many bodies since they took over, kicked to the curb.

  4. I’m with CJ. Clear Channel’s been screwing up radio since the late 90s.

    Cutting their own throats. Uninteresting generic radio has pretty much been replaced wih internet offerings.

  5. Maybe their $500 million contract with Limbaugh caused a pinch? They can’t make much money when they offer Rush and his buddies free of charge to rural areas while over charging in urban areas. Can they?

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