Posted by Jeremy Shulkin
As part of a national round of cuts, media giant Clear Channel Communications has laid off Sherman Whitman, WTAG’s morning news voice. The reports are that the cutbacks only targeted the news operations, so Whitman was the only local employee let go.
This is the second round of layoffs in less than two years for the station, with host and former program director George Brown and news person Tim Cooney both relieved in April of 2009.
While neither Clear Channel, WTAG nor Whitman have returned Worcester Mag requests for comment, there’s plenty of chatter around water coolers in the talk radio business.
One WTAG staff member made it clear that Whitman’s firing had nothing to do with performance, just the casualty of Clear Channel’s tendency to cut news departments. According to Whitman’s Facebook page, he’d been with the company for eleven years.
Michael Harrison, publisher of talk radio trade magazine Talkers, says the paring down of news room voices in radio stations is a “theoretical debate” going on in the business right now.
“One area that has really suffered over the years has been radio news,” he said, adding later, “There are people in radio who feel news is a valuable component of the radio industry.”
Locally, no one really knows what Clear Channel or WTAG will do with their news department now (call us back, Clear Channel), but some guesses are that they’ll use a “hub” station from Springfield or Boston, or maybe even Rochester or Albany, New York. That, of course, means local coverage will take a hit.