Sirius XM Radio Lays Off 50 Including DJs, Employees Say

Network News

X Profile
View More Activity
By Mike Musgrove
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sirius XM Radio laid off at least 50 workers yesterday, including on- and off-air talent at channels with formats ranging from oldies to modern rock, according to employees and a source with direct knowledge of the cutbacks.

The satellite radio company's New York offices did not return phone calls or e-mails yesterday seeking comment on the matter. But a source, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the staffing situation, confirmed that the company was initiating layoffs.

Staff reductions had been rumored since Sirius acquired District-based XM this summer in a deal valued at $3.3 billion. Chief executive Mel Karmazin told investors and analysts last month that the company will lose about $350 million this year on revenue of $2.4 billion.

XM DJ Kandy Klutch said talk of pending layoffs at the company had been stress-inducing in recent months.

"It's not a surprise at all," she said. "It's actually a relief." Klutch, who was a DJ on XM's '80s channel, had worked at XM since 2001.

But Washington-based disc jockey Matt Baldassarri, who until last night hosted a show called "Night Prowl" on which he played music from the '50s, said he was shocked when he found out he'd lost his job.

Baldassarri had got married a week and a half ago and just returned from his honeymoon.

"This is probably going to be one of the hardest things I have ever had to do," said Baldassarri, reached yesterday afternoon before his final show. "It's devastating on several levels. I'm riding so high on the anxiety of doing my last show that it hasn't sunk in yet."

Baldassarri said he hopes to find another job as a DJ in another major market, "but jobs these days for a disc jockey like me are pretty rare -- that's what made XM so special."

At a Web site for XM alternative music station XMU, the station's DJs offered a brief, cryptic goodbye. "[We] have enjoyed the years of love, music, fun and passion we have exchanged with our friends in music," said a message posted on the site. "It's been more than a pleasure."

Analysts said yesterday that layoffs were to be expected as the merged companies consolidated their staff.

"It shouldn't be any surprise that some people will be relieved of their duties as a result of the merger," said April Horace, a radio industry analyst with Janco Partners. "This is part of the overall cost synergy that Mel [Karmazin] has talked about."

The company's shares have been steadily declining since before the market's recent troubles. A year ago, shares were trading at almost $4. Yesterday, shares closed at 42 cents after starting the day at 49 cents.


© 2008 The Washington Post Company

Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity