Ford Motor Co. President and Chief Executive Jacques A. Nasser leads a string of corporate executives espousing the virtues of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on the radio.

"This is part of a series of advertisements in which the Exchange asks business leaders to talk about issues that are important to them and about their association with the Exchange," an NYSE spokesman says of the 60-second spots.

The ads were not prompted by the market decline that followed the tragic events of Sept. 11, the spokesman says, adding they were planned well before terrorists claimed thousands of lives.

Other featured executives include Sumner M. Redstone, chairman and chief executive of Viacom Inc., and Wilfred J. Corrigan, chairman and chief executive of LSI Logic Corp.

In his radio spot, Mr. Nasser says, "If you go back over 10 years or so, CEOs could sit in their corner office and pretend they were running the company and not have a lot of interaction with the employees. Those days have changed. You have to be connected with employees and the employees have to be connected to the leadership of the company."

The upbeat broadcast stands in sharp contrast to a 50% dividend reduction by Ford’s board of directors — the company’s first dividend cut since the Gulf War recession in 1991. This year’s fourth quarter dividend of the company’s Class B and common stock falls to 15 cents from 30 cents paid last quarter.

"We are taking aggressive actions to address the issues that face our company," Mr. Nasser says.

One action faces a delay. As many as 5,000 white-collar employees were expected to receive early retirement offers Oct. 15, but Ford says it needs more time to train supervisors to deliver the message.

Meanwhile, six senior executives are to retire at year’s end: James D. Donaldson, group vice president Global Business Development; Vaughn Koshkarian, vice president Ford Asia Pacific; Michael D. Jordan, vice president Ford Customer Service Div. and president Automotive Consumer Services Group; James A. Yost, vice president Corporate Strategy; and Elliott S. Hall, vice president Dealer Development. Lincoln-Mercury President Mark Hutchins retires at an unspecified date next year, remaining temporarily to assist successor Brian P. Kelley "ensure a seamless transition."

Also effective Jan. 1: Kathleen A. Ligocki becomes vice president strategy, business development and Canada and Mexico and Mark A. Schulz becomes a corporate vice president replacing Mr. Koshkarian.