San Antonio, Texas-based Clear Channel Communications, which owns eight Valley radio stations and has commercial advertising spread throughout Arizona Mills mall and other area venues, plans to lay off 1,850 employees in response to the sagging economy.
In a memo to employees, CEO Mark Mays said the layoffs across corporate, outdoor advertising and radio are part of the company's "unpleasant task of bringing our outdoor and radio businesses' staffing in line with these challenging economic conditions."
"We are facing an unprecedented time of distress in the general economy - and the ripple effects have hit some of our largest customers hard," he said in the memo.
Local Clear Channel stations include: KESZ (99.9 FM), KFYI (550 AM), KGME (910 AM), KMXP (96.9 FM), KNIX (102.5 FM), KOY (1230 AM), KYOT (95.5 FM) and KZZP (104.7 FM). All of the stations are located in a complex at 4686 E. Van Buren St. in Phoenix.
"While a significant portion of these positions represent a realignment in our sales departments, the positions span all departments and represent approximately 9 percent of the total Clear Channel Communications work force," Mays said in the memo. "One of the things that has kept Clear Channel strong throughout our history is a willingness to deal with difficult situations in an immediate way - to make the tough decisions today in order to secure a strong future."
Jeff England, general manager of all eight local radio stations, referred comment to corporate spokeswoman Lisa Dollinger.
"We're not breaking numbers down by geography or business function," said Deanna Blount, Dollinger's assistant. "We're not releasing names. The company isn't commenting beyond the internal note ... sent to Clear Channel employees by CEO Mark Mays."
For its third quarter that ended Sept. 30, CC Media Holdings, Clear Channel's parent company, reported revenues of $1.7 billion, a 4 percent decrease from $1.8 billion for the same quarter in 2007. In the radio division, revenue was down 7 percent to $843.9 million from $909.6 million because of decreases in local and national revenues extending across all markets and advertising categories.
Mays said Clear Channel remains a strong company.
"Clear Channel Communications has more resources than any of our peers," he said. "The tools are here. The support is here. It's time to use them to create lasting competitive advantage for our customers - and for our company."
Clear Channel Outdoor is the world's largest outdoor advertising company with more than 973,000 displays in more than 60 countries across six continents. It operates more than 167,000 advertising displays and has a presence in 49 of the top 50 designated markets.
In addition to Arizona Mills, Clear Channel Outdoor has advertising throughout Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and has all of the massive electronic advertising at Westgate City Center in the West Valley.
Television and radio are going to face the same difficulties that newspapers have, said Tim McGuire, professor and Frank Russell Chair of Journalism in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.
"This is not about audience and readership," he said. "It's about the advertising model has gone bust. Selling mass advertising in a very down economic time is an almost impossible task, and the question that it raises is are we going to get out of this with quality local content intact. That's starting to seem somewhat doubtful and it's tragic."