CBS Radio cuts former Chicago execs

Two former Chicago radio executives were among the latest casualties of massive cutbacks sweeping across CBS Radio stations nationwide.

Harvey Wells and Dave Robbins were among five senior vice president/market managers forced out Thursday as the company continued to thin its ranks and reduce expenses.

Harvey Wells

Harvey Wells

Wells most recently headed CBS Radio’s five-station group in Riverside, California, and Robbins headed its three-station group in Orlando, Florida.

The memo announcing the changes said Wells “has decided to move back to Chicago to be closer to his family.” Wells began in his hometown as a weekend overnight disc jockey at album adult alternative WXRT FM 93.1 in 1975 before shifting to sales. He went on to head multiple stations here, including WXRT, sports/talk WSCR AM 670, country WUSN FM 99.5 and former FM talk WCKG. After a six-year detour as station manager for Newsweb Radio here, he rejoined CBS Radio in 2011.

Dave Robbins

Dave Robbins

Robbins, who also began his career on the air, first came to Chicago as a disc jockey, assistant program director and music director at CBS Radio Top 40 WBBM FM 96.3 in the 1980s. He returned to Chicago in 2003 to become general manager of B96 and then-oldies WJMK FM 104.3, among other stations. He was shifted to Orlando in 2010.

Other market managers were cut Thursday in Miami, Florida, Las Vegas, Nevada, and Hartford, Connecticut.

“We are grateful for their years of service and the many ways in which they’ve contributed to our success,” Scott Herman, chief operating officer of CBS Radio, said of the outgoing executives. “The moves we are announcing today will make our business even stronger and guarantee a bright future for CBS Radio.” Herman, who was promoted to COO on Monday, was the executive editor and program director who launched the all-news format on the former WMAQ Radio here under Group W ownership in 1988.

Another former Chicago radio executive who popped up this week was Steve Carver, onetime vice president and general manager of both CBS Radio all-news WBBM AM 780 and Tribune Media news/talk WGN AM 720. He most recently headed six stations in Tampa, Florida, that were swapped by CBS Radio last year to Beasley Broadcast Group. Now Carver returns to CBS Radio to oversee the company’s combined Miami and Orlando clusters.

While the layoffs and realignments all are related to cost-cutting in one way another, there may be another strategy in play here. Tom Taylor, the respected industry analyst and editor of the daily radio management newsletter Tom Taylor Now, said the moves also keep alive speculation about future sales or swaps among smaller markets for CBS Radio.