Up to twenty staff are to be let go at Dublin radio station Phantom FM as part of a restructuring plan.
Staff were informed of the move at a meeting at the station yesterday. The channel now looks likely to undergo a name-change and move to an automated programming format.
Only three members of the current team are said to be remaining. Insiders have hinted that Joe Donnelly of Phantom Breakfast, evening DJ Claire Beck, and John Caddell who hosts mid-morning/afternoon show Finest Worksongs and who is also head of music at the station, will remain hosts on the key schedule slots.
Reacting to the news, several Phantom DJs said the move came "out of the blue" and described the redundancies as "like the Valentine's Day massacre".
Phantom came on air in 1996 as a pirate station. It won a licence as an alternative rock station in 2004 and won a loyal following in the very competitive Dublin radio market.
In a statement issued last night, station managers said that the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland had granted permission to the board of directors of Dublin Rock Radio Ltd, trading as Phantom 105.2, to restructure the business "in order to ensure its long-term viability".
Managment blame falling advertising revenues in an increasingly competitive market for the introduction of the restructuring plan.
Chairman of Dublin Rock Radio Ltd, Trevor Bowen, said: "Phantom has been a labour of love that has paved the way for many up-and-coming bands over the years and, as a result, the station has a core loyal following.
"That is testament to each member of the Phantom team - whose personal passion for music shines through on a daily basis.
"It is with regret that we are announcing the station’s proposed restructuring plan to continue to deliver an alternative music service for young Dubliners.
"However, in doing so, we are ensuring the future of the offering and we aim to return to growth in the future. I would like to thank the team at Phantom for their ongoing dedication and patience during this difficult time."