Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Radio: Hogan's Zeros

Clear Channel Radio CEO and Crypt Kicker John Hogan is for those of us who want to reform radio what Sarah Palin was to Saturday Night Live. We have assurance that there’ll never be a shortage of material coming from his San Antonio compound.

How about his tasteless, mindless “Get A Job” promotion (or is that one being written off as, ahem, public service), where twenty-one participating Clear Channel stations will offer the unemployed a “chance” (his word) to nominate themselves for one of five weekly on-air slots? The "winning" jobseekers will get thirty seconds of fame to pitch for work on the stations. Sick.

The press release is here. In it, Hogan quoted recent figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, but declined to mention the thousands of Clear Channel employees he selected to be added to the ranks of the unemployed.

I haven’t heard the promo on the air yet. My guess is that it’ll include a disclaimer that reads: “Former Clear Channel employees are not eligible.”

Did you hear the new one about John Hogan? Remember when he announced an “impressive new level of commitment to local community affairs that will define a new, higher ‘minimum level of service’ for all markets,” and added, “We believe when radio focuses on serving local communities, it is radio at its finest?”

No, that wasn’t a punch line.

“Clear Channel Radio has long led the industry in both the quantity and breadth of community-service programs at the local, regional and national levels.”

That wasn’t either – but it should’ve been.

Actually, none of it was intended to be a joke. It’s from an authentic April 15 press release issued by Clear Channel, which announced their - get this - nationally-driven commitment to localism.

Their pledge for change resulted in more firings and fewer local programming hours.

The last time I checked most Clear Channel stations are still running the same identical public affairs program at the same time.

Here’s more Hogan: “We are materially increasing our commitment to community programming, increasing our accountability, and broadening our public-service contributions in every local market we serve.”

Question, Hogie. Isn’t every market you serve local? Just asking.

Finally. Forty-four days after these commitments were made and ignoring the possibility that Clear Channel could be bankrupt within a couple of months, Hogan announced the appointment of two managers that will lead the company’s new initiatives, how ever ephemeral they may be.

Meet 36-year old Senior VP of Programming Darren Davis. He’s assuming the newly created post of Senior VP of Premium Choice.

I hope it’s a position they plan to keep around for awhile. You don’t want to go down in the record books as the John Paul I of Clear Channel.

His job is not to change the litter box but to “…improve program quality for all dayparts.”

Translation: Replace local talent with voice tracking. In Clear Channel-speak the word improve is defined as eliminating a salary.

He’ll also oversee the quality control of localism pronunciation. An outside-the-market voice tracker for their Kiss station in Boston will be taught that the suburban city of Quincy is pronounced Quin-zee – not Quin-see as in Quincy Jones and that you don’t pronounce Worcester as Wor-chester.

Let’s get to know Hogie’s second appointment of the day - Clay Hunnicut. He’s Senior VP of Programming for Clear Channel’s “East Major” region (don’t ask me where or what it is) and will take on additional duties as – Hogan loves slogans and titles – Community Engagement Director. The job title sounds like something that would put a stain on a career.

At Clear Channel, there’s no such thing as wearing too many hats until you tip over.

Though Hogie wasn’t specific about Hunnicut’s job definition, we have to assume that it has something to do with making sure those twelve promised PSAs-a-day run between 6 PM and 6 AM.

Should a group of close friends have an intervention with Hogie? At least tell him that no one is buying this crap?

If you wore glasses that made you look cross-eyed, wouldn’t you want to know?

You may ask how can Clear Channel pull off live-and-local – and do personal appearances - when most of their dayparts and just about all of their weekend hours are voice-tracked or syndicated?

Let me introduce you to the new Clear Channel National DJ Replicator. It’s brought to you by the same people that gave you other Clear Channel innovative programming breakthroughs like Premium Choice, Less is More, and the Format Lab.

Now, every market can have their own Ryan Seacrest and Elvis Duran. Or Steve Harvey and Kid Kraddack. Maybe you prefer Big Rig, Doc Reno or John “the B-Man” Beaulieu.

The Clear Channel in-person voice-tracking National DJ Replicator is a lifesize, full color cardboard stand-up of your favorite Premium Choice Clear Channel voice-tracked personalities. They come complete with movable arms and legs and a place for a local intern insert his or her lips to lip sync to pre-recorded introductions.

For example, the Ryan Seacrest Replicator comes complete with a customized voice track: “(station) thanks you for coming to our (name) event today. I’m Ryan Seacrest. Ryan Seacrest-dot-com.”

The National DJ Replicator allows you to create personal appearances with your designated Premium Choice DJs.

Don’t laugh. I fear that I just gave Hogie an idea.

I was going to suggest that Hogie consider taking Clear Channel’s radio division non-profit – until I realized that it already is.
-----

97 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jesus, John! That damned Hogan's so ugly he'll never die - he'll just "UG" away!!!

Anonymous said...

John, you have to give credit to CC for their environmental efforts... The recycling of national music logs and generic voice tracks is saving valuable energy. Now if they would just turn off those damned, inefficient HD transmitters we could reduce the temperature of the entire planet by several degrees.

Anonymous said...

Please don't give Hogan any more ideas. I can see him using the replicator.

Anonymous said...

One name comes to mind. Clutch Cargo.

Anonymous said...

All humor aside you made some valid points about the radio business today. Radio has always been about illusion and imagination. Today it is all illusion and no imagination.

I hope we see Clear Channel bankrupt and the company pieced out to real broadcasters who have smaller companies that hire talent and create an enviornment where the medium can once again be entertaining and competitive not only with one another but other mediums as well.

Good one, John.

Anonymous said...

They should be ashamed of themselves. Faux public service, public affairs. Liars from beginning to end.

Anonymous said...

The entire radio industry is non-profit these days and deservedly so.

Anonymous said...

Please John, No more free information for Clear Channel. You scared the hell out of me a couple of years ago when you said that if Clear Channel could have gotten away with it they would have been getting their voice tracking from Bangalore. Now I am really scared. I could see John Hogan doing the cardboard cutout/prerecorded voice thing. From what I know the people Hogan hired consider themselves lucky to have jobs and will be his perfect soldiers. Too bad a solider is only as good as the orders given.

Anonymous said...

A few years ago I heard Mantua pronounced Man-too-ah on WAKS and that was from a live jock.

On MIX I heard a giveaway promo for a John Mellencamp ticket giveaway for 12 noon being promoted a 1:00 pm too.

I rarely listen to radio today and when I do it is NPR or college.

When Clear Channel goes bankrupt please let us know so we can start listening again when new owners take over.

Anonymous said...

It truly is a shame that it took that short of a time to bring an industry to its knees. I believe that had radio not been deregulated it would be that much further along in technology and creativity since competition and not acquisition would be its driving force.

Anonymous said...

This is your best yet. I can't stop laughing. I can picture the Ryan Seacrest replicator. I agree with the other commentator that you are giving Hogan too many ideas. This is something he would take seriously.

Anonymous said...

It could have been worse. Clear Channel could have invited back employees it fired to draw the "winning" unemployed person of the day.

Clear Channel has had its share of sick promotions. This may be the worst.

It illustrates how out of touch Clear Channel is with its audience and the state of the economy.

They know nothing.

Anonymous said...

Did you read this in RBR?

The Mays family screwed everyone. Even John Hogan:

How much of Clear Channel Communications does the founding Mays Family still own? The short answer: Not much.

Due to some tax-related selling as restricted stock became vested, the founder of Clear Channel Communications, Lowry Mays, and his two sons, who are still the top two executives, made filings with the SEC updating their holdings in Clear Channel’s parent company, CC Media Holdings.

After selling 9,659 shares on May 22nd at $1.30 each to pay those taxes, Mark Mays, CEO, still owns 686,556 shares. At the same $1.30 price, those have a value of $892,522.

Brother Randall Mays, President and CFO, also sold 9,659 shares and now owns 676,897. At $1.30 each that’s $879,966 worth of stock.

Patriarch Lowry Mays, who still has the title of Chairman Emeritus, sold 3,504 shares to cover taxes. He now owns 74,496, valued at a mere $96,844. That’s pocket change compared to the payout of over a billion bucks he received when Clear Channel was bought out by the current majority owners, Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners.

By the way, Clear Channel Radio CEO John Hogan also made an updated filing of his holdings with the SEC. He sold 1,963 shares for tax purposes, leaving him with 20,537, worth $26,698.

Anonymous said...

Ha ha ha. Hogan thought he would have his nose so far up the Mays family's butt that he would go where ever they would. Did they screw him. I am sure he is getting an okay wage from Bain/THL. How long will that last? No broadcast company in the world would go near Hogan after his run at Clear Channel. He will be like that man without a country. No one wants him. No one needs him. He is a disease.

Art said...

Doug Stephan Good Day had somebody on this week for people who want to do their own talk show with podcast technology.

Anonymous said...

I love this. Did you know that in some markets including mine we have one of our AEs go out and pretend to be one of the voice tracking announcers for personal appearance. It is sick and tacky and no one really knows or cares. What ever it takes to get the buy.

Anonymous said...

Hey John, All the Excess.com stole your story line about the Seacrest imitation. Everyone knows you were first with it. Even John Hogan.

Anonymous said...

The Mays family are the ultimate scamartists. They allowed their company to be taken over by the Jacor nitwits who freely spent money on buying up anything and everything. When they fired Michaels for leasing his private plane from himself his boy Hogan took over just in time for the roller coaster to begin its decent. In the mean time, the Mays family concocts the deal with Bain Capital and THL, makes their billions and sticks everyone else with debt. No wonder there is a business school named after Lowry Mays. There should be a prison named after him to and that is where his boys should end up.

Anonymous said...

Gorman - youre slipping. You missed the best one of all.

Under the photos of Sarah Palin and john Hogan you should have had a capiton - SEPARATED AT BIRTH

Enjoyed today's blog immensely.

Anonymous said...

Not separated at birth. As much as I hate Sarah Palin I would not want to compare her to John Hogan. Imagine Sarah Palin with John Hogan's crosseyed glasses. She would look like Ugly Betty - the Univision version.

Anonymous said...

If they weren't separated at birth how do you explain their personalities. Almost identical.

Anonymous said...

Through everything you have been through including all the stuff CBS, Jacor and Clear Channel tried to do to you how did you not lose your sense of humor? I know these people put you through the ringer. because you were a threat to them. I don't know how you did it, John. You didn't back down and you did not fall for their threats. Now your positioned and ready for battle when these losers begin to fall. Good for you. Youre an inspiration. I never worked with you but friends with a number of people who did especially in the later years. Get back in action soon.

Anonymous said...

This is too funny.

Anonymous said...

They are all puppets anyway.

Anonymous said...

Very funny. What a riot. I'm forwarding this one to all my radio pals.

Detroit Diesel said...

Hey, John,

I thought you would like to know that the old coot Fred Jacobs also picked up on your blog of yesterday and did one of his own half-baked blogs about John Hogan. He must still be upset that Hogan called him a "waste" when he tried to pitch WAQX a few years back. The next time you see Fred Jacobs driving his Mercedes around Birmingham and West Blommfield and trying to get noticed ask him why he lost his 'passion' of HD radio.

Anonymous said...

To Detroit Diesel (same initials as Daffy Dan?)

I was going to write Gorman the same thing about Cootie Jacobs.

What a loser this guy is. Did he lose the HD radio account? Poor baby if he did.

if he begins raving about the new Zune then we will know he still is on retainer.

Anonymous said...

Gorman, you should write for Leno. Great stuff. Not only the "replicator" but the non-profit line as well. I am going to send you a rate quote from a CC market you are familair with. They are just about giving their time away.

Pat said...

Anonymous said...
I love this. Did you know that in some markets including mine we have one of our AEs go out and pretend to be one of the voice tracking announcers for personal appearance. It is sick and tacky and no one really knows or cares. What ever it takes to get the buy.

May 28, 2009 3:18 PM
****************

That is PATHETIC!

Clear Channel has killed the radio industry and others with it's ripple effect.


There should be a prison named after him to and that is where his boys should end up.

May 28, 2009 4:08 PM
Amen brother!

Anonymous said...

Some good points John, but I think you're missing the forest for the trees here. The issue isn't just that this save radio effort reflects badly on the industry. The issue is why would radio execs expect anyone to help them?

For years, radio was in the driver's seat. If they wanted to sell music, the labels had to have airtime. So they groveled and bribed and did whatever they had to to get on the air. And radio execs got more and more high handed with them as they consolidated. On the sales side, things were only slightly better. Advertisers were treated like they should feel lucky to get time. Remember the days when advertisers would be required to buy weaker day parts to win the rights to spots in morning drive? Long-term contracts were required, and small businesses with limited budgets were hosed for the highest prices of all.

Meanwhile, radio stations refused to improve their product. Just the opposite. They cleared the way for bigger and bigger blocks of ads. Provided more voice tracking. Cut staff and hired the cheapest bodies available. Filled the airwaves with junk. After all, what was anyone going to do about it? Everybody needed radio.

The contempt was so thick you could cut it with a knife. Contempt for the labels who provided the content for free; contempt for the listeners who made up the audience they were selling; contempt for the advertisers whose money came pouring in. Remember the old Lily Tomlin routine about the arrogant telephone operator? Radio treated people the same way.

Think I'm wrong? Ask around.

Now that the music labels have found new ways to sell their product that cut radio right out of the mix, radio is calling on its "friends." Good luck. I'm sure all the people they've trampled and disrespected for the last 20 years are lining up to do everything they can to help. Why don't they call up the investment bankers who made zillions of dollars buying and selling stations for the last 20 years for help. Those are the only friends they have left.

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