This is the thanks he gets for promoting Mitt Romney:
Last week’s exit of controversial WSPD-AM 1370 talk-radio host Brian Wilson follows a yearlong pattern of dismissals, layoffs, and corporate maneuvering by Clear Channel Communications Inc. that has sent scores of people to the unemployment line.
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.”
Since last year, Clear Channel hasn’t announced widespread layoffs or cuts, despite the steady stream of departures. The company’s debt must be repaid throughout the decade and comes due as soon as 2014. The 2008 sale was the catalyst for thousands of layoffs as Clear Channel restructured.
Clear Channel has taken a different approach to letting its employees go in 2012, said Jerry Del Colliano, who closely follows Clear Channel’s movements in his blog, Inside Music Media. Mr. Del Colliano writes about radio companies and industry changes.
Clear Channel has been strategically firing employees in small numbers so it doesn’t appear that the company is undergoing large-scale layoffs, he said, adding that it would have looked bad for Mr. Romney if his former company fired Clear Channel’s workers en masse.
“They’ve been nipping and tucking a lot since last November,” Mr. Del Colliano said. “There has been a substantial number of people [let go]. I can’t estimate it, [but] a handful of people every week for 52 weeks. “It’s my belief that what they wanted to do was keep attention off of their Bain founder, Mitt Romney.”
Representatives from Clear Channel did not respond to repeated phone calls placed by The Blade. An email seeking an interview also received no response.
Mr. Wilson announced his departure via Facebook on Monday, posting this: “I am glad to have had the opportunity to preach the gospel of freedom and liberty to Northwest Ohio. Wish I had the chance on the air to say thank you and good-bye to my listeners. I will continue to make every effort to spread the message of free markets and liberty.”
Dan Stroud, former co-host of a morning show on KXXY-FM in Oklahoma City, spent 31 years at the station before he was laid off in March. He said he was one of six people let go.
“I got off the air, went to a meeting, was escorted out, and that was the last day I worked.”
Mr. Stroud, who has not found work since he was laid off, said he most likely was targeted because he was one of the longest-serving employees at the station, which had garnered him a higher salary than other workers. Mr. Stroud said the general manager who laid him off read from a highlighted script — the two had known each other since college. The general manager wasn’t allowed to deviate from the script, he said.“I just think they could have done it a lot better,” Mr. Stroud said.
“There’s no doubt in my mind if they had fired several hundred people, they would have had headlines generated,” Mr. Del Colliano said.
Brian Wilson was one of those embarrassed Republicans who call themselves libertarians.