Monday, December 3, 2007

It's a Clear Channel Christmas

It’s Christmas. Some stations flip to non-stop, non-maintenance seasonal music while they try to figure out why their time spent listening continues to plummet with their regular format.

At Clear Channel, it means it’s time for the annual holiday season bloodbath. The fatality list is too long to list. Ten were whacked in L.A., for starters.

Don’t take it personally. If you’re with Clear Channel, the stations you work for are line items – nothing more. When your entire business philosophy, post-radio deregulation was “buy ‘em now and figure out what to do with ‘em later,” with absolutely no thought of any down side, what else would you expect? The bigger Clear Channel got – the more problems they created for themselves.

Unless you were fortunate enough, like John Hogan, and given membership in the golden parachute club, which Randy Michaels and Sam Zell set up shortly before scamming the Mays family into buying Jacor, you have no job security.

Catch that, Tribune employees?

See, we misunderstood John Hogan. We thought “less is more” was about reducing commercial inventory – not personnel.

Successful criminals always travel light.

Now we hear that Clear Channel plans to eliminate what little remains of their promotion and marketing departments.

Come January ’08, their account executives will be responsible for producing their own remotes. Yes, a $5.85 minimum wage entry level position for someone wanting to break into a career in radio will now be handled by the sales department.

That means in addition to writing the business, sales people will have to drive the station van to the event; set up the banners, booth, and sound system – and tear everything down after the event.

How much you want to bet that the account executives that don’t jump ship will just stop selling remotes?

You can thank Fiddle and Faddle a.k.a. the private equity firms of BainCapital and Thomas H. Lee. They’re the ones that paid the Axis of Evil, otherwise known as the Mays family, billions to take Clear Channel private.

Who says medieval systems don’t work anymore? The Mays family ends up with a major cash incentive for screwing everything up while everyone else, Fiddle and Faddle included, are stuck with a cash disincentive. That’s what you do when you run out of money to steal.

We knew that house of cards would tumble eventually. So did the Mays family. The deal was done so it would fall on Fiddle and Faddle. And Fiddle founder Mitt Romney wants to be your next President?

Memo to anyone making six figures or over at Clear Channel: Start looking now.


SavvyDude said...

Why keep a marketing and promotion department at Clear Channel when it has nothing to promote and market.

Mike Walker said...

"Why keep a marketing and promotion department at Clear Channel when it has nothing to promote and market."

What about the loser called HD Radio?

Anonymous said...

As Bones said to Kirk "It's dead Jim".

The only good news is that Bain Capital may just write off Clear Channel as a loss and you will be right with your prediction about fire sales.

I pray you are right.

Anonymous said...

"Anyone over six figures start looking".....Hah! Anyone making five figures and less had best be dusting off their resumes also. Will the last person out of the building please throw the transmitter switch to "off" when they leave?

PowerRadio said...

I would say anyone with a full time position is on thin ice. Health and benefits just get in the way of good business. Make the survivors part timers, have the vt their shows and above all treat them like s--t.

Clear Channel destroyed radio.

Anonymous said...


"In fact, the earnings report was so dismal that it shocked industry analysts and led to yet another drop in Citadel's already sagging stock price, pushing it further into penny stock territory. Given a brutal outlook for the radio business and its own particularly alarming financial future, the company was forced to write off an unexpectedly large portion of the value of its stations, sending investors running for cover. UPDATE: as the trading day continued, CDL shares were pounded even further, closing down $1.46 at $2.40 a share (a 38% loss in just one day). Volume was a heavy 11.5 million shares (405% higher than normal) and Citadel's total market cap loss for the day was a staggering $385,000,000. As recently as 2003, Citadel shares traded as high as $23.00"

When the major-players are tanking, then the whole industry is headed into the toilet.

John said...

I'm just scratching my head wondering how some of these account execs will figure out the technical aspects of setting up a remote? This could also lead to some serious on air screw ups.

sideliner said...

I don't know who has it worse. The people who were terminated, or those that weren't. These poor underpaid, unqualified souls are left in the operating room with a bleeding patient.

Chitown Slowdown said...

This is from this morning's which is a good source of daily industry news:
The Clear Channel Budget Reaper sweeps through Chicago.
This is another one of those things where the market manager (in this case, Earl Jones) will tell the local paper (the Sun-Times) that total employment’s actually rising at the cluster because of a larger sales force and more resources devoted to Internet sales and programming. But radio’s still about what’s on the air, and columnist Robert Feder says the cluster’s “trimmed at least four staffers from the programming payroll.” Those include Armando Rivera, “once considered a rising star”, who watched the assistant PD/music director position at V103/WVAZ vanish from under him. Also riffed: WGCI evening personality Victor “The Diz” Blackful. He’ll be succeeded by current morning traffic reporter Leon Rogers, working with co-host Frankie Robinson. At “Kiss FM” WKSC, the local overnight shift disappears, leaving Alexx Dupri out (Billy Hammond will stretch to cover some of the overnight hours). And Kiss FM morning show producer Pete Gallindo is gone. Behind the scenes, Feder says the cluster’s also X’d out an event manager position in the promotion department. Manager Earl Jones says “We are re-expressing our assets to achieve greater results.” That’s at least a fresh way to say it.

Anonymous said...

You nailed it.

25 years in commercial radio and I've never been so happy to leave a job in my life as I was the day I quit Clear Channel.

I told someone recently if I had to choose between working for Clear Channel and living under a bridge, I'd probably do it, but I might have to spend one night under the bridge to make sure.

I went to non-comm and never looked back.

Former CC-er said...

Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee will break up the company and parcel out the stations regionally. If that does not pan out they will write off the stations as a loss. I agree with you. Mitt Romney wants to be president? He would run the country like Clear Channel ran radio into the ground. Oh, I forgot. The current Clear Channel CEO helped the current president get elected. Politely it is a circle game.

Bob Harper said...


I loved your CC blog this week.

A few quick thoughts:

Sales Folks on Remote Duty...

a) This will mark the first time in the history of Radio that a Salesperson stayed for an entire remote.

b) This will be only the third time in the history of Radio that a Salesperson has listened to three continuous hours of his own station's programming.

c) How much real work can there be breaking down a card table, rolling up a banner, and a toting a box of station key chains, T-Shirts, and Alpo coupons? (it always seemed to me more thought and pride goes into the typical swap meet table than a radio remote)

d) My wife is a ICU Nurse Manager. Once upon a time the hospital she once worked for thought it would be a good idea for the patient "help me" bells and lights to be answered by Housekeeping personnel; yellow rubber gloves, mop bucket, and all. Sort of the flip side to the CC plan. That didn't work, either.

Bob Harper

Disgusted in Detroit said...

Do they realize they are doing absolutely the wrong thing and couldn't be MORE wrong with this move? They destroyed the product now they are destroying the marketing?????

Investment groups should not be allowed to own radio licenses. This is the end result.

Anonymous said...

How low must the stock go before it becomes a fire sale write off? Is there anyone here who understands how this works?

Anonymous said...

Clear Channel is a mess. Radio in general is a disaster area and those who are closest to the dough at the top kick shit to those on the bottom. Those making the calls to "enhance options" are full of shit. Earl Jones? The dumbest man in radio next to Mr. Haney (Mel Karmazin). You don't need to be good at a job in the industry you're wrecking to make money. You have to be good as bamboozling, bullshitting and taking it in the ass real well to get to that point. There's no grades for job performance based on success anymore because there's no success to be had. They keep cutting and cutting and cutting and yet they're bleeding more and more and more. And all these college educated dopes sit around with their thumbs in their asses completely oblivious to the fact that it is THEIR style, THEIR MISMANAGEMENT, THEIR ways that cost them more and more (not just in revenue) every year since their grand scheme of de-reg occured. Treat people like shit and eventually you'll have to buy everything in sight. That's the only way you can tell people "just be happy you have a job" when the morons are running the asylum into the ground.

Break Dance King said...

Message to Earl Jones:
Earl, you're everything wrong with radio. It is you and that chihuahua carrying know-nothing who've made Clear Channel in Chicago a mess. I've always thought you were overrated. When you surround yourself with yes men and people who are dependent on you it's easy to get lost in your own hype. It's good to be hard wired and you should be grateful you have a job. There's so many like you in radio, you keep making these assinine statements and yet there's hot dog stands making more money than you and your incredibly idiotic ways of "re-expressing our assets to achieve greater results" is just a hide behind phrase to shit all over dedicated people who did nothing more than follow your concepts into a brick wall. How much have you wrecked your cluster? Lite FM - a wreck! V103, your only saving Grace was let go. KISS FM? My God son, the worst move I've ever seen, you still haven't recouped from that debacle. NUA? What will you do when the ghost of radio past comes hunting that auto pilot mess down? And WGCI? Do you even see that big high hard one coming for you? (No, it's not Darren either).

Earl, jump now while you still have the parachute. Better yet, leave the parachute and just crash, it'll be more fun to watch. It's people like you who've wrecked this medium. Your grand plans were called out years ago and now everyone but the fools like you are paying for it. Employees and the public, Thanks for nothing.

Ghost of your conscience past

Anonymous said...

You gotta love the insane, sick and diabolical genius that is Earl Jones; "We are not only a radio company -- we are a platform for content."

Really? Well, then it would make sense that you would fire the very people who create your content, right?

Hello? Is this on?

The upside; there's a very special place waiting in hell for this particular douche nozzle.

Anonymous said...

I saw on the website for Mix 106.5 in Cleveland that Daune Robinson is now on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. How is that possible? Some of those hours are voice-tracked with the other hours being live.

They moved Lori Bradley's name from between Brian and Joe's names and Daune's name from the On-Air tab to the last one under Kat Jackson's.

Also, Mix has lost Scott Glazier and a promotions person. That station is getting the red-headed stepchild treatment. That station needs to be sold now.

Anonymous said...

From reading the comments I see that the Clear Channel grim reaper is making the rounds. Punishment for the mistakes made by market managers falls on the staff. I hope Bain Capital and Thomas Lee loses their ass on the CC deal. The real villains are the Mays Family. Let us not forget that.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy G-mans's blogs immensely and the comments on this topic are quite interesting.

But I believe that little will change without significant "re-regulation" of broadcasting by the FCC and Congress.

That means reversing the majority of the changes made. Not just ownership limits, but commercial limits, strict city of license rules, news and public affairs requirements, technical requirements and policing, cross-ownership prohibitions, banning "lease management" agreements, just about all that was changed or blown out in 1994 and 1996.

And since that is unlikely to happen, then the anticipated sell-off of Clear Channel or anyone else's properties really won't make a difference.

The low-cost and reliable PC-Internet automation technology, diminished audience expectations and numbers and the lack of managers with experience of "how it was and how it could be" means that, while the players will change, I don't believe the end product will be much different.

I would like to be proven wrong, but I don't see anyone stepping forward yet who could do that.

Anonymous said...

why aren't there laws against what clear channel and other companies have done. it appears that the fcc has become a paper tiger controlled by the major companies. maybe youre not supposed to care these days but those let go from cc over management's mistakes have families, lives and contribute to society. i wonder how the mays family sleeps at night?

Anonymous said...

What is this trend, these days of down-sizing, or totally removing, marketing departments? I've been in the publishing industry for the last 20 years and am currently observing the removal of all marketing people from many of these businesses. Why would CC think this is a good way to continue doing business? It makes me scratch my head in disbelief. What a stupid, short-sighted business trend.

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