Black Monday At VNU

Three Billboard senior editors received pink slips August 7th as part of Dutch conglom VNU’s restructuring as a private entity and its consolidation of trade mags Radio & Records and Billboard Radio Monitor.

Ken Schlager, a 21-year veteran of Billboard and its executive editor, found himself out of a job along with Los Angeles-based deputy editor and West Coast bureau chief Melinda Newman and Nashville bureau chief Phyllis Stark.

The three were among 26 staff cuts made by the company – 17 from the R&R ranks and nine from Billboard – in editorial, sales and operations. Erica Farber, as previously announced, continues in her position as publisher of R&R from her Los Angeles base.

“Because of overlapping duties, which is inevitable when two leading brands integrate, there was a staff reduction from both properties,” read a statement from VNU’s New York corporate office, according to the Tennessean of Nashville.

Radio & Records will also reportedly drop the Clear Channel Communications-owned Mediabase radio ratings service and instead use airplay charts supplied by VNU-owned Nielsen BDS. Variety reported that Mediabase’s charts will appear in USA Today in a weekly advertisement.

Future plans for those laid off aren’t weren’t immediately known, but Newman did send a message to Billboard colleagues before she left the office.

“I feel tremendously honored and blessed to have enjoyed such an incredibly long run at Billboard and take with me wonderful memories,” she e-mailed. “I look forward to running across you in my next adventure.”

Stark told the Tennessean that “I’m usually at the other end of the phone when something like this happens.” A total of four editorial employees and three chart staffers, who worked out of separate Nashville offices, were let go and the two offices combined, according to the paper.