Friday, January 09, 2009

Radio today

Jerry Del Colliano is a gifted war correspondent who daily sends his dispatches back from the battlefield -- with his gripping accounts of the carnage, the ruin and the walking wounded giving us a horrific vision of a world gone mad.

You won't find Jerry in Baghdad, Kirkuk or Mosul. Neither will you find him in Afghanistan.

On the Gaza border in Israel? Fuggedaboudit.

JERRY IS A PROFESSOR at the University of Southern California, and is a former radio broadcaster. And a former trade publisher who went head-to-head with Cheap Clear Channel. What's left of the American radio business is his beat.

And it's starting to make the Iraq War look like a pretty successful venture:

Yesterday, the hits kept on coming as Clear Channel's rep firm, Katz, decided to lay off 122 people. For starters, these are not layoffs. They are firings. Layoffs is the word used by the radio group to spin what it really is -- firings.

Meanwhile hundreds of Clear Channel managers have returned home to their nervous employees from this week's Dallas corporate meetings -- the proverbial other shoe will no doubt drop shortly -- some think a bloodbath is on the way as early as next week.

More firings.

More good people out of work because their employers have tried everything and it hasn't worked. Everything except running radio as a local business -- the way they found it when they bought into it.

Local radio is now apparently off the table.

That's why increasingly you see so many groups heavy up on syndicated programs or network their own talent to their other stations to save money. Forget that they are also cutting local programming. And to me this is the fatal blow -- not all the other mistakes these CEOs have made.

Look, some managers don't relish the position of chief executioner. One reader who identified him or herself as a Clear Channel manager who has fired 11 people put it like this:

"I'm the grim reaper. I'm the guy who does the firing. Over the last 2 years I've dismissed 11 employees. Their only crime: they drew a paycheck. At the time I was doing it for the good of the company. We needed to downsize, to save money so that we can serve the community better with great radio. The only person I was kidding was myself. I no longer drink the Kool-Aid and realize that this company has no interest in programming except on how to do it for cheap.... And I'm sorry to those 11 who I have ruined their families holidays".

Look at the wild goose chase this reader tells us her husband was sent on by Fagreed Suleman and his wife, Judy Ellis, at Citadel. It's not pretty but it's indicative of how radio people are willing to do almost anything for their employers and yet they still get jerked around:

"My husband has been in radio for 25 years. The last 3 years we have moved 4 times. In 2008, we have lived in 3 states. We have fought to feed, pay the bills and keep our kids in college. However, all the markets we were in this year had increased revenue because of my husbands ability to motivate his staff. What did we get for that? Pink Slip, can't afford to pay you this high salary. 'Fagreed' was our last stop. They moved us across the country only to "budget cut" us after 4 months. This is just another example of greed!!!! I bet he has never had to wonder about how to keep his kids in college. Pathetic!!! It makes me sick."
IF YOU LIKE to read good war reportage -- or if you're among the dwindling number who still give a rat's ass about American radio -- check out Jerry's blog. You'll be glad you did.

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