Lauren MacLeash, longtime Cities 97 program director/DJ and the force behind the popular “Sampler” charity series, was let go by Clear Channel Radio on Monday.
“The only thing I can tell you is she is gone,” said Mike Crusham, Clear Channel’s market manager for the Twin Cities.
It was believed to be a cost-cutting move but Crusham said the company does not comment on personnel decisions.
He did say there will be “no format change and we’re still doing the ‘Sampler.’”
MacLeash, who had been with Cities for nearly 20 years, was also program director for Kool 108 and Clear Channel stations in other markets. She was widely regarded as one of the most influential programmers in the AAA format (adult rock, essentially) in the country.
However, in the past year or so, Cities 97 has been leaning more toward a Top 40 or contemporary hits format, playing the latest hits by Pink, fun. and Robin Thicke and eschewing its old standbys like Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer and David Gray.
When asked to describe Cities 97’s current format, Crusham hesitated and then said: “We’re breaking new music. We want to be the fun, hip station.”
Rich Davis, program director for Clear Channel’s KDWB, will add the programming of Cities 97 to his plate. Gregg Swedberg, VP for programming, will handle Kool 108 programming and continue with country station K102.
MacLeash was a force behind such Cities 97 projects as Studio C mini-concerts with name artists, the Basilica Block Party and the Cities’ “Sampler” series, all-star compilations of exclusive performances sold for the past 24 Novembers, which have raised more than $800,000 for area charities.
“Our intention is that we’re moving forward with things,” Crusham said. “Rich Davis is in charge of the ‘Sampler,’ and I’m planning on Basilica Block Party 20 and Studio C concerts.”
MacLeash is married to KFAN personality Chris Hawkey. Their two children were born during the couple’s 19 years in the Twin Cities.