By Rick Pusiak
After years of downsizing and restructuring there have been more layoffs on the local radio scene.
Nine employees were let go Monday at CHNO-FM, the top 40 station on Barrydowne Avenue commonly known as Z103.
The layoffs follow a decision by Z-103Â?s owners, Newcap Broadcasting, to enter into a business partnership with Rogers Communications, which owns Q92, Easy Rock 105 FM and CIGM.
Newcap let go its Sudbury sales department and contracted out the job to Rogers.
Â?ItÂ?s basically that simple, theyÂ?re going to do all of our sales for us and all of the sales-related functions,Â? said Newcap president Bob Templeton.
Â?WeÂ?re going to focus 100 per cent of our time and money on putting out a better product.Â?
The Newcap president said the sales department was losing the company a lot of money.
While it may sound odd for one media establishment to use the services of a direct competitor Templeton pointed out itÂ?s actually the norm and happens in a lot of major markets across Canada.
Â?But itÂ?s more at the national and agency level where they work in partnership,Â? explained the radio executive.
Â?ItÂ?s a little more unusual or uncommon to have local sales in the sameÂ?basket. ThatÂ?s what makes it a little unique but these types of arrangements are proliferating across the country and youÂ?re going to see a lot more of them in the future. It just makes so much economic senseÂ?you know radio is like 10 per cent of the advertising pie, so weÂ?re the little guys.Â?
Newcap has no plans of selling Z-103 according to the company president.
In fact he said the changes will allow the on-air product to be upgraded.
Â?ItÂ?s a lot easier to invest in something when youÂ?re making a few bucks then when youÂ?re just pouring money down the drain,Â? said Templeton.
Newcap intends on upgrading the on-air signal as quickly as possible at a cost of $150,000 to $200,000.
The signal is weak in parts of the city and the planned improvements are expected to put radio transmission quality more on par with that of Q-92 and Easy Rock.
Some downtown offices canÂ?t get Z103 at all said Templeton.
The layoffs announced this week included elimination of news positions and many newscasts at the station.
Templeton said Z103Â?s top-40 programming format lends itself more to lifestyle information.
Â?The younger the demographic you target the less importance on the immediacy of newsÂ?because young peopleÂ?they donÂ?t wait around for you to give them the weather or tell them whatÂ?s going on, they get it instantly with computers, etc.,Â? said Templeton.
The company president said layoffs are horrible. He said the saving grace is once stations are restructured they become very lean, very profitable and actually start adding staff.
He added staff who remain after a restructuring have greater job security.
Many of the people laid off at Z103 are card-carrying members of Local 725 of the Communication, Energy and Paperworkers Union.
Local 725 president, Dave Lindsay said the union is in the process of filing numerous grievances on behalf of the employees and hopes to get the situation resolved soon.
Lindsay said the layoffs came as a shock and the union had no advance warning.
Â?The layoffs are contrary to provisions in the collective agreement,Â? said the union president.
Â?These things happen, you file grievances and you get it resolved.Â?
He said several long time employees were among those let go as a result of contracting out. Positions terminated included full- and part-time staff members.