Several Indianapolis radio employees lost their jobs this week in a round of layoffs by San Antonio-based Clear Channel, the parent company of WRZX-FM 103.3, WFBQ-FM 94.7 and WNDE-AM 1260.
Among those let go: Don Stuck, the morning show host on WRZX; and Ace Cosby, a veteran disc jockey who most recently served as a producer at sports talker WNDE.
"It was a tough day but I made a business decision I thought would benefit our ratings and revenue going forward," said Rick Green, vice president and market manager for Clear Channel’s Indianapolis stations.
Green declined to say how many total employees were let go but confirmed Stuck and Cosby were among them.
Stuck had worked in various roles at the Clear Channel stations for about 25 years, mostly at WFBQ.
He had worked at WRZX as a morning host for several years, including a stint with a co-host, Dave "Gunner" Gunn. Gunn replaced WFBQ DJ Jimmy “Mad Dog” Matis after Clear Channel laid off the 23-year drive-time veteran in 2010.
Cosby worked at WFBQ almost 30 years before Clear Channel laid him off in 2009. He returned in 2010, on a part-time basis as a board operator and sidekick/co-host with Mark Patrick.
Green said the moves are part of Clear Channel's efforts to use "technology and talent we have around the country"—which often translates into fewer disc jockeys— to grow ratings across its more than 750 radio stations.
The Bob & Tom Show, which got its start at WFBQ, now is heard on more than 150 stations. WFBQ midday host Laura Steele also is heard on stations in Dallas, San Antonio and Seattle.
Green said he intends to hire a new morning show host for WRZX.
Wendy Goldberg, a Clear Channel corporate spokeswoman, declined to say how many people the company let go nationally "as a policy, and out of respect." Radio industry websites estimated the layoffs to be in the hundreds.
The company has been implementing a strategy it calls "Premium Choice" that rolls out voice-tracked programming created by disc jockeys in other markets but localized with weather, traffic, news and sports.
"We always look for the most efficient ways to run our business, particularly in challenging economic times, and we never look for layoffs," Goldberg wrote in an e-mail. "But the future of our company and industry depends on our ability to acquire, grow and promote new talent. This new strategy will help us do that."
It's more about greed if you ask Bill “Radio” Remeika, a 16-year Clear Channel veteran who now handles traffic updates for WXIN-TV Fox 59.
"Corporate people in radio tend to treat people like disposable tissues," Remeika said. "You use them, then throw them away without consideration of what they've meant to your company."