Don't know Rube? He was a popular early 20th century cartoonist who sketched comics depicting multifarious devices for performing simple tasks in unusual and often convoluted ways.
By the early thirties, the Merriam-Webster dictionary turned his name into an adjective, defining it as "accomplishing something simple through complex means."
The same definition could be applied to the old radio industry, accompanied by banking, insurance, and a select - but large - number of public companies that cloak their cooked booked financial statements in indecipherable jargon and figures.
But eventually even the most complex, convoluted financial schemes crash and burn.
Poor Farid. Tired of toiling under Mel Karmazin as his official bean counter, he wanted to prove he could be a number one.
Instead, he proved to be a lifeguard who couldn’t swim. Mini-Mel he will never be.
But failure is rewarded in the radio industry many times over.
Despite his destruction of the third largest radio chain in America, one notion being bandied about would have him falling uphill by staying on as CEO of Citadel to help bring the chain out of bankruptcy.
When Suleman gobbled up the ABC Radio chain - he got the networks, too. Losing Sean Hannity to Clear Channel and Paul Harvey to his life cycle erased $8 million in revenue off the books compared to a year ago. Overall, network revenue was down 31.5 percent, which translates to a $13.5 million loss.
Let’s stop here for a moment. Paul Harvey was 92. How many more years and how many more breaths did Farid foresee squeezing out of him? Did he expect Harvey to give him five years advance notice before he passed away?
I’m stunned that Suleman didn’t come up with some Rube Goldberg apparatus that would record every word Harvey ever said so he could assign some poor minimum wage schlub to continue his broadcast by rearranging words from prior newscasts and commentary.
When Farid bought the nets, Hannity made it apparent that he had no intention of sticking around and cozying up to the draconian management of Citadel once his existing deal expired.
Granted, Citadel-ABC was the last bad big deal in radio broadcasting - but it’s painfully evident no lender bothered to skim through Farid’s faulty Rube Goldberg-style business plan. Was it assumed that being Mel’s beanyman was reason enough to fund his folly?
Disney wanted ABC Radio off their books. They were cutting a deal with Steve Jobs to acquire Pixar and weren’t interested in holding on to yesterday, especially when the radio division was likened to a country club.
Last Tuesday, just after Suleman signed off on still another massive staff bloodbath and the elimination of whatever localism remained on his distressed properties, he joined eight other radio group heads, to pitch the FCC on myths and legends. Specifically, they were asking the commission to make FM receivers mandatory in cell phones. That way, in case of an emergency - FM stations would be available to provide detailed information on where to go, what to do, and why.
Excluding public radio, give me twenty FM stations in this great country of ours you could listen to for immediate emergency information. Okay, I’ll settle for ten. No, final game scores on sports-talk FMs don’t count as emergencies.
Actually, I’ll tell you what FMs do provide that coverage. Small, independent market FMs. I’ll give you one - WATD in Boston’s South Shore, which on many occasions has provided my family and friends who live in its signal range with pertinent and vital information related to regional news, weather, and traffic.
Does the station make money? Yes.
Did these radio CEOs understand that the FCC has no jurisdiction to force manufacturers to add FM to cell phones?
Do these radio CEOs really believe the FCC is not aware of how these chains ruined the radio industry post-deregulation?
The smartest man in any room was shrewd enough to kick ahead its inevitable insolvency for one more year with his Rube Goldberg accounting so he could continue screw his shareholders, investors, vendors and anyone else who’s reluctantly hitched up to his wagon.
Lew doesn’t know how to make money but credit him for knowing how to filch it. He is challenging Clear Channel CEO John Hogan and the aforementioned Farid Suleman for the title of career derailment king.
Instead of stepping aside when his company spiraled downward in revenue and ratings under his direction, Dickey’s slanted family and friends’ board anointed him to save it.
Dickey’s in serious need of a spine transfusion before he even considers a financial one for his company.
I define radio to those who ask as a business where luck is running out for those who are presently controlling it - but it’s like passengers in an airplane where the pilot dies and there’s no way to land the plane without crashing.
The only good news is that by keeping Suleman, Dickey and the other usual suspects in place will speed-up the impending fire sales.
Here’s a seriously flawed technology that has zero consumer interest despite millions of dollars of donated radio time to promote it.
At iBiquity, there’s nothing more rewarding than to spend other people’s money on preposterous promotion, marketing, and gadgetry.
So what do you make of the HD Radio iPhone app?
Yes, the app is free - but there’s a catch. It’s iBiquity. There’s always a catch!
To receive HD Radio on your iPhone, you must go to a participating Radio Shack, er, the Shack store and plunk down $79.95 plus tax for a bulky add-on HD Radio tuner, which you have to attach to your iPhone.
Yes, you are now carrying around two devices. One, which is sleek and stylish, the other - pure Rube Goldberg.
There’s another catch. You cannot use the device through your iPod-docking car stereo system because the 30-pint port of an iPhone connects to only one device at a time.
Wonder if Freddie sold him the app? Together we con!
Rube Goldberg and radio. Life imitates art.