BARSTOW In another sign of the economic times, Barstow-based radio station The Highway Stations is the latest business in town to issue a round of layoffs.

The Highway Stations has cut at least 10 employees, said station general manager and vice president Tim Anderson. The layoffs included four full-time announcers, which means that live on-air personalities like "Morning Show" host Cory Baker are now no more.

So, what does that mean for listeners?

Anderson insists that the station's staples music, traffic, weather and news will still serve listeners. News reports will be read on-air by contracted workers from Reliant Broadcasting, a Maryland-based company where current traffic reporter Mary Driver is located, Anderson noted.

Phone calls to The Highway Traffic Hotline will, instead of being directed to the deejays, be routed to traffic reporters or producers on hand at the studio at Barstow Station on East Main Street. Call-in contests will also continue, Anderson said.

"We're not changing the radio station," said Anderson, "it's still traffic and weather." Fifteen full-time and up to four part-time workers will still man the radio station and take calls, he noted.

While the station's style of music or line-ups won't be affected, according to Jeremy Vaughn, one of the announcers laid off, the radio station will no longer have an on-air personality to smooth transitions.

"They just won't have us deejays to let you know what you're listening to," he said.

"All radio stations sound a little off without live personalities or deejays at all," said Vaughn.

According to Baker, the four announcers were notified Sunday morning of budget cuts mandated by the station's corporate office. By that same afternoon, Baker said, the station had replaced the announcers with an automated system.

Baker said he and the other on-air hosts knew the station was going to get its budget slashed and were bracing for reductions like salary cuts or longer workdays.

"We knew there was something coming up...at the time we didn't realize it was going to be that drastic," he said. Baker said he doesn't blame local management that it was a decision made at the corporate level largely dictated by economic factors.

"One of the few things you can cut is your labor. That's the reality of business," Anderson said.

The Highway Stations as well as The Drive (96.9 FM) and Highway Country (107.3 FM) are owned by Los Angeles-based KHWY, Inc., said Anderson. The Drive and Highway Country are unaffected by layoffs.

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