The big question in the world of radio right now is how will Beasley Media Group's purchase of four Philadelphia Greater Media stations affect everyone's favorite on-air personalities. All signs indicate little will change, but one host isn't waiting around to find out.
Sources confirm a Crossing Broad report that Jon Marks, a co-host on 97.5 The Fanatic's Mornings with Anthony Gargano, has decided to leave the station after his contract expires on Oct. 20.
Marks, who started as an intern when WPEN first became a sports station in 2005 (as Sports Talk 950 AM), joined Gargano when the former 94.1 WIP host jumped to the Fanatic to launch the station's first morning show in an attempt to compete with longtime ratings champ Angelo Cataldi of WIP. Before that, Marks co-hosted The Jon and Sean Show alongside former Fanatic host Sean Brace, who now runs PhillyInfluencer.com.
Neither Marks nor management at The Fanatic would comment about the pending exit. There is also no indication WIP has tried to recruit Marks for its open afternoon shift vacated by the firing of Josh Innes. Since it's likely Marks has a non-compete clause, it's doubtful WIP would be willing to keep the slot vacant throughout the Eagles season.
More belt-tightening expected
In an investor presentation last week, Beasley detailed how it plans to save nearly $1.9 million at its four stations in Philadelphia, which in addition to The Fanatic include WMMR 93.3 FM, WMGK 102.9 FM, and WBEN 95.7 FM. According to the report, the two-step cost-cutting approach will "be driven primarily by headcount as well as compensation/contract expense reductions."
Phase 1 of Beasley's plan would involve cuts at the corporate level through the elimination of executive management and duplicative departments, as well as cuts to travel, entertainment expenses and Greater Media's company newsletter. Phase 2 would be savings realized through lowering health care costs and renegotiating contracts with on-air talent.
Beasley's purchase also includes six New Jersey radio stations: WCTC 1450 AM, WMGQ 98.3 FM, WDHA 105.5 FM, WMTR 1250 AM, WRAT 95.9 FM, and WJRZ 100.1. In addition to the cuts mentioned, Beasley plans to reconfigure its New Jersey staff, which it says will create $1.4 million in annual savings for the company. No word yet on what that means for employees or station lineups. A request for comment from Greater Media Senior Vice President Daniel Finn wasn't immediately returned.
One thing Beasley isn't planning at the moment is messing with any of the current formats or on-air talent in Philadelphia, something CEO Caroline Beasley told the Inquirer's Jon Takiff back in July.
"Why would we get rid of a Preston and Steve or a John DeBella?" Beasley said. "That's what we're paying for. Why tear that apart?"
Whatever cuts and cost savings come when Beasley takes over will just be the latest cutbacks Greater Media employees have been forced to endure. Ahead of the sale, all four Philadelphia stations were hit with layoffs, with WMMR receiving the brunt of the cuts. Nearly half the positions cut were part-time.