Thursday, January 18, 2018
TV and Media

Clear Channel lays off Tampa Bay talk radio program director, others

The program director for three Tampa area talk stations was among the staffers laid off Thursday by radio giant Clear Channel in a round of downsizing implemented nationally just weeks before Christmas.

Steve Versnick, 37, came to Tampa in 2010 to serve as program director at political talk outlet WFLA-AM 970, later adding WDAE-AM 620 and WHNZ-AM 1250 to his responsibilities. A Clear Channel employee for more than 15 years, Versnick declined to comment on his departure.

Clear Channel's vice president of programming in Tampa, Doug Hamand, who is presumably taking over Versnick's duties, declined to say how many people had been laid off locally or how it might affect on-air lineups. He wrote in an email to the Tampa Bay Times that "as a policy, and out of respect, we don't discuss details on personnel matters."

It was unclear whether Versnick's previously announced plans to replace outgoing political talker Todd Schnitt with another local show on WFLA would still hold. Or if Fox News star Sean Hannity might get bumped up to that 3 p.m. slot so his radio show could air live when it is broadcast to many other affiliates.

Radio trade publications noted downsizing at Clear Channel outlets across the country Thursday. RadioInsight.com reported that Ryan Nelson and Jenny Dean, both on-air personalities at Tampa country music station WFUS-FM 103.5, were also let go Thursday. (Dean served as an anchor on local cable news channel Bay News 9 for five years before moving into radio.)

And the website AllAccess.com featured a statement from Clear Channel, which read in part: "We are constantly looking at all aspects of our business to ensure that it reflects how the best organizations work today. … In the process of making these recent changes, some employees were affected. We thank them for their service and wish them all the best for the future."

The New York Times reported in October 2011 that Clear Channel laid off dozens of local radio personalities in a revamping of 600 small, regional radio stations. The company would not say how many people lost jobs then.

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