Friday September 12th was not a good day for some at Metro Networks/Shadow Broadcast Services as several full-time and part-timers were let go in a company wide cost cut of labor. Philadelphia's operations lost two news writers as well as a producer who had been with the company over twenty years! Additionally, Tom McDonald was let go from the news side of the operation. You probably have seen Tom in many news shots on the local airwaves holding the Metro Networks microphone capturing that sound bite. Rumor is Metro will soon terminate their news service all together at all Metro operations nationwide. This could mean the demise of lone news guy Paul Periello who worked previously at WWDB.
Also, traffic anchors Deborah Byrne, Matt Tacha and Mary Cantell were among those laid off. Byrne and Cantell at one time served as back-up on Channel 10 and Fox 29.
If that isn't enough, traffic veteran Rod Carson was also let go. Carson began the traffic service, "Sunoco Go Patrol", back in the 70's with several others. He provided the very first television traffic report on KYW-TV's morning news in the mid 70's and it was his idea right here in Philadelphia to install a video camera on a building for the use of capturing traffic shots. WPVI-TV was the first television station in Philadelphia to use that camera, SKY 6, at Route 1 and the Schuylkill expressway. On top of his service with Sunoco Go Patrol and Shadow traffic, Carson has been with Metro Networks almost twenty years alone and has been on every radio station in the region. His latest full-time shift was handling the overnights on KYW newsradio the last several years.
As of now, the traffic schedules on KYW handled by Sam Clover, Pat Winters, John Brown, Tom Collins, Eric Herr, Brian Ramona, RJ McKay and Cindy Graham still stand. Metro Networks no longer handles traffic services for any of the Philadelphia television stations -- losing Fox-29 to Traffic Pulse in late Spring.
The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists was voted into Metro Networks operations several month ago by employees who have tired of the poor management and broken equipment the past several years. Reports also include poor working conditions and little training for new-hires. Apparently, AFTRA had no intervention in the lay-offs on Friday and a meeting is scheduled for Tuesday between AFTRA negotiators and Metro management.
Metro Networks calls the move a "restructuring of its traffic operations" and plans to consolidate its traffic resources from 60 operations centers across the U.S. into just 13 regional centers. What this might mean for the Philadelphia operations center is that Philadelphia would also be responsible for handling one or two other markets which is the way Traffic Pulse has operated since its inception.
The restructuring is intended to improve the operating and financial performance of Westwood One and resulted in a staff reduction of 15 percent nationwide as well as a few relocations of operations centers planned by the end of this year. By the summer of 2009, the remaining markets will be relocated into the 13 operations centers mentioned above.
According to a Metro press release, the restructuring, as well as addressing underperforming programming, is expected to result in a $25-$30 million annual savings. Westwood One will host a conference call to its employees next week to discuss the reengineering of the company.