The bloodletting starts at Clear Channel Denver
The December 17 blog "Clear Channel's Lee Larsen Talks About Possible Layoffs at Denver Stations" noted strong rumors about impending staff cuts at the area outlets owned by the Texas-based mega-corp: five FMs -- KTCL/93.3 FM, The Party/95.7 FM, KBCO/97.3 FM, The Fox/103.5 FM and KBPI/106.7 FM -- and three AMs -- KHOW/630 AM, KKZN/760 AM and KOA/850 AM. Unfortunately, this speculation proved accurate. AllAccess.com, a site that specializes in radio and music news, reports that Clear Channel is attempting to trim 9 percent of its workforce -- and Denver has taken a mighty significant hit. Among those laid off today is Eric Clouse, KTCL's music director (pictured), who's known to listeners as Boney. He says ten people have been pink-slipped on the FM side, and he's heard that a like number affiliated with the AM signals will also be let go by day's end. "One of the IT guys told me that they said to be prepared to shut down e-mail accounts and computers for twenty people," Clouse says. But information from another inside source contradicts this assertion. We should know more later today, following a 3 p.m. staff meeting called by Larsen, the Denver cluster's overseer.
Most of those disappeared at the Clear Channel Denver FMs toiled behind the scenes. The only name other than Clouse's that will be familiar to most listeners is Aaron "Double-A" Montell, who served as KBPI's music director on top of helming the midday shift. According to Clouse, the music-director position has been eliminated at the stations, leaving program directors at each outlet to take on extra duties. Other casualties Clouse lists include Brian DeGrasse and his wife, Julianne Swan-DeGrasse, who served as promotions directors for KBPI, The Fox and The Party, plus two sales managers, two salespersons and two promotions assistants, bringing the total to ten.
Clouse doesn't pretend to be surprised at the outcome. "We all knew it was coming -- not necessarily our positions, but something like this," he says. "We've done a pretty decent job of preparing ourselves for this in the last week. We knew when we went to work today that we were going to either lose our job or pick up another station."
A veteran of nine years at KTCL, Clouse was part of a team that helped make the station much more friendly to local acts. He was a programming assistant when colleagues such as Nerf and Alf managed to convince then-program director Rick Rubin to put the broadcasters' muscle behind the Fray -- a decision that helped boost the band to national prominence. (See this 2005 Dave Herrera column for the play-by-play breakdown, including Westword 's role in championing the group.) During the past four years, when he held the titles of either assistant music director or music director, he and Nerf worked in tandem to continue this tradition, and Colorado acts such as Single File, Tickle Me Pink, 3Oh!3 and more have been the beneficiaries. So, too, has the station as a whole. Clouse points out that in ratings information released today, KTCL placed third in its key 18-34 demographic, placing behind only KS-107.5 and KXPK/96.5 FM, a Spanish language signal known as Radio La Tricolor.
Clear Channel did give those to whom it bid farewell good severance packages, for which Clouse is grateful. After all, he notes, "it's a changing time not only for radio, but also for the music industry -- especially on the local level. At a station like ours, we champion local music, and not to sound arrogant, but I think we've done a pretty decent job of it. We've done our best, and we've succeeded. If they consolidate programming, though, those kinds of things aren't going to happen anymore. If all of a sudden KTCL is programmed by someone in Dallas, they won't be able to find out who the great local bands are. They won't have the time. They'll just pay attention to what's on the charts and what record reps are telling them -- the record reps that are left."
At this point, Clouse would love to continue working in radio. However, he concedes, "It's going to be tough. My position has been eliminated not just from this market, but from markets all over the country -- and Clear Channel is a leader in this industry. Other companies follow Clear Channel like lemmings, and if they see Clear Channel making these kinds of cuts, they may think, 'We can do that, too.'"
If that happens, he'll probably have to look at a career switch -- but he looks back on his time at KTCL with pride. "We had a good run," he says.