Posted by MichaelNelson on January 18, 2011 at 15:04:28:
You’ve got to hand it to the venture capitalists who run the radio industry into the ground these days.
Their puppets, the radio CEOs, have come up with new words when what they really mean is firing.
Today, it’s called “layoffs” or, the latest cool term for ruining someone’s career is “contraction”. Pretty cute, huh?
Well, what’s happening as I write this is not so cute. Clear Channel is making good on its threat to relieve itself of local news talent and push news from regional centers into ghost towns that I call radio clusters.
I’ve been getting emails from Clear Channel people telling me the firing started with almost 50 people sent to the unemployment office.
Tom Taylor reported yesterday that some major talent is being sent to pasture so the money people at Clear Channel’s headquarters – Lee and Bain – can shape up the bottom line.
Tom said WDAE sports veteran Whitney Johnson is out. Paul Bottoms, another longtime news professional in Richmond – gone. Keith Edwards in Eau Claire, the only live newsman the station has left is contracted – to use their term – after a great 30-year career. Two out in Syracuse. One wasted in Wilmington.
The FCC is a joke.
It allows so-called local operators to pipe in cheap, repeater radio instead of serve their communities as their licenses require. Now the FCC is going to look the other way while big consolidators eliminate the last bastion of market radio – local news.
This is not the end of the contractions – somehow it sounds like a pregnant woman giving birth when that term is used when it feels more like death – the death of an industry and the loss of more great air talent.
For years now, almost every radio group has been – can I use the term – firing people. You’d think it would all stop once they did their duty and got it over with. But we now know it is never over with and more cutbacks are coming.
Big operators aren’t going to give these fine people a heads up – no way. Just as Clear Channel blindsided almost 50 news people Friday.
I’ve been watching the metamorphosis of Wall Street radio since 1996 when I held my nose and said out loud that it stunk. I’ve had a pretty good record since then of calling their next shots, so I’m going to give whoever will listen a heads up for the top three consolidators.
Clear Channel …
This group is going to go crazy cutting back.
1. Even some of John Hogan’s henchmen who have previously been off limits will be subject to the pains of contraction. Sorry, sucking up only keeps you employed for so long when the company debt is coming due and it’s $17.7 billion the company doesn’t have. This could happen sooner rather than later.
2. Unfortunately, line personnel at stations will continue to lose their jobs – on-air talent, program directors, managers and sales managers. I can say this because there really aren’t many costs at a radio station (especially now that promotion and talent has been eliminated). The only thing left to cutback is more personnel so that will be what this financially troubled company will do.
3. Sales cuts will be made as Clear Channel pulls a Cumulus and eliminates more local sellers as it centralizes radio sales on an increasing basis. Also look for the old trick of cutting commissions. Betcha I’ll get a lot of emails telling me that this has already happened.
Clear Channel End Game: Embrace centralized, syndicated radio with services being performed at headquarters and a few regional centers by survivors. This is a necessity for what is next which is refinancing their huge debt and then selling stations to pay down that debt. The bankers keep getting paid. John “Slogan” Hogan brings less to the table but gets paid more. Bob Pittman isn’t going to save radio or for that matter Clear Channel. He’s going to make money for Bob Pittman. That’s why he’s there. The public PR for this guy is unbelievable but his goal is to get rich and powerful – literally over Clear Channel’s dead body.
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