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'STAR' EMPLOYEE BUYOUT IN THE WORKS

Lee Enterprises, the financially troubled organization that owns the Arizona Daily Star, gave some Star employees a short deadline to act on what the company is referring to as a voluntary workforce-reduction program. Reporters are not included in the buyout offer.

In a memo to employees—posted online at newspaperdeathwatch.com and leewatch.blogspot.comStar publisher John Humenik warns that layoffs will follow if an unspecified goal is not met.

"We are announcing a voluntary workforce reduction program for Star employees who meet certain eligibility criteria. This voluntary program is available to all positions in our newsroom, with the exception of reporters. Only a limited number of volunteers will be accepted from each department," the memo says.

To be eligible, employees must work at least 20 hours per week, must have completed at least five full years of "service for Star pension vesting," and must "qualify for the Star pension benefit plan as of Oct. 31, 2009 (55-plus years of age)."

Bought-out employees will receive two weeks of pay for each year worked, up to 26 weeks.

The memo ominously warns: "While we prefer to avoid reductions, it may become necessary to consider an involuntary workforce reduction if we do not receive a sufficient number of volunteers."

Eligible Star employees had until 5 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 28, to apply. The review process is scheduled for Nov. 5 and 6, with Nov. 6 as the last day of employment for those bought out.

Star representatives were not forthcoming with specifics.

"We've shared detailed information with the affected employees, and we're leaving it at that," said executive editor Bobbie Jo Buel via e-mail.


KIIM WINS SUMMER RATINGS BATTLE

KIIM FM 99.5 claimed the top spot in to Arbitron's summer 2009 ratings.

The Citadel-owned radio station registered an 8.9 share in the 12-year-old-and-up demographic, down from its impressive 10.8 spring book. Clear Channel-owned KRQQ FM 93.7 placed second with an 8.4, an improvement from its 7.4 showing in the spring book. KMXZ, aka 94.9 MIXfm, was third with a 6.9, down from its 7.2 share in the spring book—the fourth consecutive decline for the lynchpin of Journal's Tucson radio cluster.

KLPX FM 96.1 and KNST AM 790 rounded out the top five. For KLPX, its 5.2 share was a huge jump from 1.7.

Spanish language KCMT FM 102.1, aka La Caliente, was the biggest ratings loser. It lost three points (going from 7.6 to 4.6), and dropped to sixth in the market.

KWMT FM 92.9, aka The Mountain, had a rough go as well. Its 2.5 was its lowest rating in more than a year and represented a loss of more than one point.

More by John Schuster

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