Firing Under the Radar

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Posted by By Jerry Del Colliano on August 27, 2012 at 13:33:15:

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Elvis is in the STATION!

And you thought Elvis was only in the HOUSE!

Not at Clear Channel where the Bain Drain continues as employees are fired in new and less grandiose ways.

Let me give you a very recent example.

Clear Channel’s Madison hit music station WZEE (Z104) morning team who recently saw their show pulled from sister station Top 40 WRNW (“Radio Now” in Milwaukee) got their pink slips last week.

The firing was done the new way.

Connie & Curtis were notified their remaining Z104 Madison show will end August 30th – this week, just ahead of the Labor Day weekend.

No big public commotion.

Surely nothing like that day in January 2008 when Barack Obama was being inaugurated and Clear Channel “laid off” thousands of employees and seemingly turned it into a public spectacle akin to an on-air contest.

Not now.

Things have changed.

Connie & Curtis and among the few, the proud, the out of work to be replaced by an automaton or as Clear Channel calls it, Elvis Duran.

In both markets.

With more to come in many other markets.

And it will likely be done the same way.

Disconnect the personalities from the radio station or stations they are now appearing on. Quietly shoo them out of the station and bring the cyborgs, bots – well, let me just say it – robots from Central Command to bring a heavy dose of major market radio to places like Madison and Milwaukee.

That’s the Mitt Romney Bain plan to wreck it and build it up again.

And if you were expecting them to build it up into a better radio station, I have this bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.

Elvis is in the STATION!

And he’s everywhere just like Chickenman!

Nothing against Duran who is an excellent jock in New York. But the idea of putting one personality on the air in morning drive everywhere for each format to save local expenses is foolish.

That is, if you care about radio, its audience and the rates you can get for local advertising.

Clear Channel doesn’t.

I know Mitt Romney’s views on abortion but now I also can see Bob Pittman’s regarding radio.

He’ll abort the talent to save money any day of the week.

But, I argue, talent is a real live thing and life for radio personalities begins at employment.

But no, Pittman doesn’t even believe in the right to life of personalities wherein the local executives make the decision to end their shows.

He believes in aborting talent from radio stations as a matter of policy – no exceptions for foolishness, shortsightedness or anything else.

The one thing we know is this.

Just as sure as the sun will rise Friday morning in Madison without a live personality on the air at Z104, the other lame brained radio groups that see Clear Channel get away with this diminution of broadcast radio won’t be far behind.

They did it on voice tracking.

Swore they wouldn’t.

Bragged about being live and local and then when they thought no one was looking started revving up the voice tracking and out of market content.

Just like Clear Channel.

Clear Channel did it with “less is more”.

Everyone thought John Hogan’s one idea would mean better programming with reduced clutter and what it turned out to mean was lower ad rates for everybody.

Clear Channel reinvented Ryan Seacrest so they could fire hundreds of on-air talent and pocket the savings.

And now everyone wants their own Ryan Seacrest.

Cumulus even thinks Mike Wannabee is Rush Limbaugh.

Here’s what the venture capital boys are up to and what they are not telling you.

Depleting the ranks of local personality radio shows will be done one at a time to keep the noise down.

Firing will be constant. While many wait for the other shoe to drop, consolidators are quietly stepping up their firing like In-N-Out Burger makes burgers – one at a time. There are firings every week, many of them, at Clear Channel.

The end goal for Clear Channel is to use a national platform of talent to appear on-air in local markets and reduce costs. No local personality is safe no matter how impressive his or her shows revenue is. Cost cutting trumps high revenue. What’s different is that this is not just to save money in some dayparts, it is to save money in all dayparts.
Many of us thought the big firings last November at Clear Channel and Cumulus would mean replacing shows with other live, local people being paid shit for money picking up some extra voice tracking work.

Maybe temporarily, but obviously Clear Channel has another idea.

Some 12 months from now it will be hard to find a Clear Channel station (with some major market notable exceptions) that airs more local programming that national.

And even if you count voice tracking as semi-local because some local jock somewhere is being paid to push out more shows, it will still mean more national shows compared to local.

At Clear Channel super platform personalities like Elvis are still alive.

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