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Radio station layoffs result of COVID-19's impact on advertising revenue

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Norwich — Hall Communications, which owns a half-dozen radio stations in eastern Connecticut, laid off four of its employees this week due to the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on advertising revenue, the stations’ general manager said Thursday.

WICH news reporters Kevin Gorden and Bernie Loubier and on-air personality Glenn O’Brien were let go, as was WCTY disc jockey Josh Matty, said the general manager, Andy Russell.

Gorden and Matty were full-timers, O’Brien and Loubier part-timers.

“It’s unfortunate. These are all good people,” Russell said. “It’s 100% COVID-related. Obviously, when businesses aren’t operating, there’s no reason for them to advertise. We just couldn’t sustain it any longer.” 

Gorden, 60, who had been with the station for nearly 36 years, said he got the news Wednesday after finishing his 5 p.m. newscast. He said he had been doing hourly newscasts from 1 to 6 p.m. on WICH and from 2 to 5 p.m. on WILI, and had long covered local news, including Norwich City Council and Board of Education meetings.

“Basically, it was the downturn in the economy. That was the only reason,” he said of his being laid off.

He said he hoped to find another job in communications, “tapping into whatever connections I’ve got. It’s a tough business. It’s tough in journalism right now.”

A Norwich native, Gorden graduated from Norwich Free Academy in 1978 and attended Syracuse University.

Still in good humor Thursday, he recalled applying for a radio production job in Herkimer, N.Y., in 1983, before his return to Norwich. On a Friday, his interview went well, with the station manager who interviewed him telling him to call back Monday.

When Gorden called, the owner of the station answered the phone.

“She told me the guy who had interviewed me had been let go,” Gorden said. “She said, ‘We have your resume on file.’ I knew what that meant.”

“Kevin’s a good, hard-working guy,” Russell said.

Hall Communications owns WICH and WCTY in Norwich, WNLC and WKNL in New London and WILI and WILI-FM in Willimantic. The company also owns radio stations in Providence; Burlington, Vt.; Lancaster, Pa., and Lakeland, Fla.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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