Showing posts with label Clear Channel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Clear Channel. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Goodness knows, Clear Channel blows

I don't care who ya are, this is funny!

Well, it's probably not too funny if you're Bob Pittman, but who cares? It's guys like him who have been ruining radio and throwing away the kind of talent who can produce one screamingly funny parody . . . while standing in line at the unemployment office, no doubt.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Big Mike . . . Big Bad Mike

Long, long ago, this feller named Big Mike ruled the airwaves.

Well, actually, back in 1954, this other feller named Todd Storz was wiping the floor with Big Mike and KFAB in the Omaha ratings . . . but roll with me, here.

Anyway, Big Mike was a big, big radio station in the Midwest Empire, and everybody knew you didn't give no lip to Big Mike.

Big Bad Mike.

Then decades later came a rumble way down in the ground. And the smoke and gas belched out of the broker's office.

Everybody knew it was the end of the line for Big Mike.

Clear Channel.

Now they never reopened that worthless pit; they just put Rush and Beck in front of it. The carnival geeks just rant and rave, paying no mind they stand on a grave.

Because at the bottom of this pit lies a big big man. Big Mike.

(With apologies to the late Jimmy Dean, and with gratitude to the archivist of wonderful old issues of Broadcasting magazine.)

Monday, June 29, 2009

We won't take no static at all

Did radio even cross your mind when Michael Jackson died?

Did you turn on the radio hoping to hear a tribute to the "King of Pop"?

If you had, would you likely have heard one?


I'M BETTING that for most people nowadays, the answer was No, No, and No. No, Michael Jackson is dead and radio isn't feeling so good itself.

Over at Inside Music Media, longtime radio man Jerry Del Colliano
called bulls*** on radio's performance during a "made for radio" moment last week -- just as he's been calling bulls*** on the corporate raiders who've been killing an industry for almost a decade and a half now. An excerpt:
Late last week when Michael Jackson died suddenly at his Los Angeles home, the radio industry was caught with its pants down and voice tracking up.

This is not to say that some stations did not respond -- the ones programmed by real live individuals and/or those who actually had control of their company's voice tracking did the right thing for their listeners.

For too many, radio was caught sleeping while new media was feeding the need of the public to know, mourn publicly and appreciate the talents of this great iconic performer.
TMZ broke the news and owned the story from start to finish.

That's TMZ like in gossip website -- no matter that it is owned by Time Warner.

CNN, New York Times, LA Times and other more "legitimate" news publications hedged in the name of caution (which is not on its face a bad thing) but then dropped the bomb on a public that had already been able to do what they couldn't do -- confirm a breaking story.

Thank you cell phones, Blackberries, iPhones, the Internet, social networking and the services that are growing up in or around them.

Radio stations really didn't see this type of thing coming.

When John Slogan Hogan, Lew Tricky Dickey and Fagreed Suleman embraced voice tracking and syndicated programming to help them save money, they apparently gave little thought to what happens in an emergency. I mean -- this was the death of a major performer.

What happens, God forbid, if a world leader dies or if North Korea actually fires a missile at Hawaii or if Iran attacks Israel?
WHAT HAPPENS is you're screwed if you're not online. Or if you can't afford to be online. Or if you're just a retro, "throwback" kind of person.

Trouble is, the suits running radio don't care that you're screwed. They're too busy running themselves into bankruptcy . . . and chasing away listeners.

What to do?

Well, if you're presently without a profession because of these people -- or if you're worried that splintered, online demographic "tribes" may not be the healthiest civic substitute for the communal experience of free public media -- you probably have run out of options for "working through the system."

After all, "the system" has its. F*** you.

THAT LEAVES the "'60s Option." Public protest . . . direct action . . . raising hell and grabbing attention.

What if, for example, all the skilled and talented people thrown away by the radio industry since Congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (which allowed conglomerates to swallow an industry whole) decided to single out a single station in every Top 100 market, mark a single date on the calendar, then stage "sit-ins" at those stations?

Better yet, what if all the fired, laid-off and chased-off radio people forced their way into those 100 radio stations across the country, barricaded themselves inside and staged "radio-ins"? A "radio-in" is just like a 1960s-style sit-in, only the participants take over the station and actually commit radio . . . as opposed to what the Clear Channels of the world are calling "radio" nowadays.

I wonder how long they could keep it up before the SWAT team hauled them away -- or before the suits had their engineers turn off the transmitters? Just make sure you invite the TV reporters and YouTube mavens along for the ride, however short.

THINK OF IT . . . if all the castoffs of an entire industry took it back -- or at least part of it back -- for however long and then (again, for however long) began to put an entertaining product on the air while overtly operating in the public interest, the corporate suits suddenly would be put in the position of having people jailed for doing what those stations' federal licenses say they ought to have been doing all along.

And after the last paddy wagon had rolled away -- filled with folks who had just been trying to serve the public interest and make a point -- those 100 stations would go back to business as usual.

Business devoid of very many live people on the air.

Business devoid of meaningful news programming.

Business devoid of much up-to-date information like, for instance, the correct weather. Or the correct time. Or the fact that the biggest recording star since Elvis and John Lennon had just died.

The difference would be apparent. And striking

Power to the people. Now.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Good night, radio.

Good night, Mr. Deejay.

Good night, Mr. Newsman.

Good night, Miss Morning Show Producer.

Good night, Mr. Program Director.

Good night, local programming.

Good night, audience.

Good night to radio, everyone.

CLEAR CHANNEL HAS wielded the budget ax again, leaving many markets with not much left in the way of local, live people on the radio. Far away, voicetracked people is another matter.

As is the corporate custom, the corporate suits are trying to spin firing 590 more people -- on top of 1,800 a few months ago -- as a good thing. Being not nearly so clever as to be in management anywhere, I just can't see it.

Anyway, here's just a small sampling of the Clear Channel carnage today:
* From Cincinnati:

Local radio sports talk became a lot quieter Tuesday.

As part of nationwide budget cuts, Clear Channel eliminated all but one local show on “Homer” WCKY-AM (1530), and dropped Enquirer sports columnist Paul Daugherty after two years hosting WLW-AM (700).

WCKY-AM canceled morning shows hosted by Alan Cutler, who was laid off, and Mo Egger, retained by Clear Channel.

The company also eliminated the jobs of sports blogger C. Trent Rosecrans, and producers Matt Steinmann, Travis Holmes and Mark Chalifoux as part the 590 positions cut nationwide Tuesday.

Only Lance McAlister will talk local sports 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WCKY-AM. He also took over “SportsTalk” Tuesday before the Reds game.

* From the Twin Cities:

Those cut were Joe Anderson, Langdon Perry, Danielle Hitchings, Chris Fisher, Lois Mae and Dan Donovan, according to a story published by

Clear Channel owns and operates seven stations in this market: KDWB-FM, KEEY-FM, KFAN-AM, KFXN-AM, KQQL-FM, KTCZ-FM and KTLK-FM.

Mike Crusham, general manager of Clear Channel’s local operations, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The local cuts Tuesday were part of a broader national round of job cuts that impacted about 600 people, or 3 percent of Clear Channel’s work force, according to media reports.

In January, San Antonio-based Clear Channel (OTCBB: CCMO) cut more than two dozen other employees in the Twin Cities, including Chad Hartman, a veteran sports talk show host on KFAN.

Fisher, one of the laid-off DJs who was part of the morning team on country music station K102, wrote on his Twitter message board this afternoon a farewell to listeners.

“Got fired today. I’m gonna miss all of you listeners … thanks for everything.”

* From Detroit:

Clear Channel market manager Til Levesque wouldn't comment on specific jobs lost in Detroit, but this afternoon Edmonds' name was already gone from the Breakfast Club roster on WNIC's Web site, replaced by O'Neill's name.

Also gone is Chad Mitchell from The Chad Show, which airs mornings on Clear Channel's country station "The Fox," WDTW-FM (106.7). Mitchell was told he was being let go immediately after his show went off the air this morning. . . .

Also cut is update reporter Rob Otto from sports talk station The Fan, WDFN-AM (1130). Otto also did the Pistons pre- and post-game reportage. On his Facebook page, Otto commented: "Well, the rumors are out there, so I guess I'll confirm it. I was indeed fired from WDFN today. Unlike my former co-workers, who were blindsided a couple months ago, I had a feeling this was coming. I wish the few remaining members of the staff there nothing but the best, and look forward to whatever it is that life has waiting for me."

*From Memphis:

Long time Memphis radio personality Mike Fleming was laid off Tuesday. Fleming hosted the Mike Fleming Show weekday afternoons on AM600 WREC.

Before 600 WREC he worked at the Nashville Banner, The Jacksonville, FL Journal and the Commercial Appeal.

He also worked in television news and talk radio covering a variety of events, news and sports stories, such as Super Bowls, the PGA Tour, SEC, Memphis' NFL drive, and a news story in which he was asked to negotiate for prisoners during a jail visit.

*From Wichita:

One of the more public personalities laid off today was Kathy Deane, who has been producing the top-rated “Brett and Tracy Morning Show” on B-98 for more than two years.

“We were, like, knocking it out of the park,” Deane says. “That’s what I really don’t get.”
Morning host Brett Harris, who hired Deane, agrees. He’s put a call into corporate to see if he can pay Deane out of his own pocket to produce the show off site.

“When it happens to someone who’s part of your inner circle of success . . . who you brought into the industry, you feel some accountability,” Harris says.

Deane, who says she was in shock this morning after being escorted to her car, didn’t even hear Harris make the offer.

“Wow,” she says. “That’s showing me some love, isn’t it?”

*From Denver:

A reliable source reveals that 23 part-time or fulltime employees at Clear Channel Denver were laid off today as part of the San Antonio-based firm's second series of cuts this year. (The number is confirmed by KOA Morning News host Steffan Tubbs on his Twitter feed.) Many of those impacted worked in off-air capacities such as accounting, but a handful of on-air personalities reportedly received pink slips. The biggest name: The G-Man, a staple of the Rick Lewis-Michael Floorwax morning show on The Fox for nineteen years.
THAT'S THE CARNAGE from just a few scattered markets across the country. And, as I mentioned, that's not counting the much larger layoff in January.

Oh, did I mention there are lots of other radio conglomerates that also overpaid for scads of stations on their way to "mega" status, and which are in much worse financial shape than Cheap Channel? Even if economic times were flush, no station can make enough money to service that kind of debt load.

The story of radio is the little story that tells the big story of Corporate America Hits the Skids. This story probably won't have a happy ending, and -- either sooner or later -- none of us will live happily ever after.

At least according to the prevailing definition of "happily ever after."

The talented individuals who used to work in radio are suffering now. But as we hollow out all of our virtual town squares and cultural commons in postmodern America, it's our society itself that ultimately be impoverished.

WE'RE SO DIVIDED now as a people . . . we have so little in common anymore. We all live in our own little individual or "clan" compounds today, walled off from common cause with those unlike ourselves by an impenetrable wall of electrons.

Maybe Facebook and Twitter will find a way for us to engineer a breakout. Maybe they'll put more guards on the parapets -- I don't know.

But I know we're isolated and alienated today, and I know all the Clear Channels of the world aren't helping matters as they continue to divorce actual humans from the means of social communications.

It used to be so different. I'm 48 now; I remember when it was. I remember when there was magic in the airwaves.

I remember when everybody at least knew a little about a lot of things, and a lot of people. I think that was a very good thing.

THERE STILL are a few outposts where radio still sounds like your neighbors, and where the cultural commons is still kept weeded, the grass still gets mowed and the park benches still get painted. So to speak.

I thought you might like to see what that looks like . . . while you still can. Introducing WLNG in Sag Harbor, N.Y.

RECENTLY, the station's longtime general manager, Paul Sidney, died of cancer at 69. He had been at the station since 1964.

He was born in Brooklyn. He died as Mr. Hamptons, and a region mourned,
as this Newsday opinion piece demonstrates:

When Paul Sidney's microphone fell silent the day he died, April 2, eastern Long Island lost not just a radio legend, but a big part of the glue that has kept our community together.

The fast-talking Sidney came to WLNG (92.1 FM) in 1964, when the station in Sag Harbor was a year old. He started a format of oldies, jingles and local shows - a corny, hometown, live-and-local format. Today it's the last remaining station of its kind on Long Island.

Sidney and his radio team kept the jingles, reverb and "chime-time" bell of the 1960s top-40 format that most other stations long since abandoned. The most popular show is "Swap and Shop," where people call in to sell items.

There's also "Pet Patrol," for lost pets, and "Christmas Cards of the Airwaves." Sidney would sit there all day while listeners called in to say what they had gotten for Christmas and what they were having for dinner.

"It's radio the way it used to be," the jingle says. And, "WLNG - the place to be - since '63."

In the age of instant messaging, Facebook friends and online dating, it is hard to imagine the day-to-day intimacy of hearing Paul Sidney talking to you and your colleagues, and seeing him at his live remotes from events and stores all over town. "I do 250 remotes a year," he once told Newsday.

His gravelly voice was not polished or sophisticated, and he spouted out questions to people he interviewed live on location. "Here's the deal . . . " he was famous for saying as he explained what he wanted from a guest. When he referred to the Hamptons, he would say, "God's country."

He was 69 when he died, after 45 years at the station, during which he stood always behind his radio philosophy - "It's what's between the music that counts."

IT IS WHAT'S between the music that counts. And nobody ever mourned a hard drive when it died.

Likewise, I don't think any of us will mourn Clear Channel's version of radio when it finally is dispatched to that Great Bulk Eraser in the Sky.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

When you can't find a friend . . . you're SOL

I'm a radio guy. I've loved radio since I was old enough to twiddle the knobs on the old vacuum-tube console my parents had.

FOR CLOSING IN on five decades, I've listened to the radio, been entranced by the magic of the radio and, eventually, did my bit in creating some radio magic myself. (Though, I'm sure not many people fondly remember the faux, on-air FCC raid Darryl "Cowboy" Young and I staged during the rock show on WBRH way back there then. We thought it was funny at the time.)

For these and other reasons, it breaks my heart -- and enrages me -- that what Nanci Griffith sings about in "Listen to the Radio" no longer is true -- at least the part about "when you can't find a friend, you've still got the radio." At least for the most part.

The corporate leeches have fired all your friends on the radio. Though you maybe could be friends with Data in a Star Trek world, it's not going to work out with HAL 9000 . . . hiding out in some
Cheap Channel server room.

All that's left for us to do is rage against the machine -- and the bastards who, in the name of the bottom line, thought it was a substitute for our friends on the radio.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Radio: High-fiving a blind guy

Ryan Seacrest is a fitting poster boy for his employer, Clear Channel Communications.

For Seacrest, trying to high-five a blind guy is what he really does on his American Idol gig. For Clear Channel, the biggest of broadcasting's corporate behemoths, trying to high-five a blind guy is only an apt metaphor of how they run their radio stations.

PRACTICALLY AND METAPHORICALLY, it's not going to work so well.

From The Wall Street Journal:

Clear Channel Communications Inc. plans to lay off about 7% of its U.S. staff and replace more local shows with syndicated content, moves that could affect the broader radio and outdoor-advertising businesses for years to come.

Tuesday, Clear Channel will lay off about 1,500 employees, mostly in ad sales, and implement other cuts aimed at saving close to $400 million, according to a person familiar with the situation. The company, which employs about 20,000 people in the U.S., declined to comment.


On the radio side, the company is likely to eliminate chunks of local programming and replace it with national programming, much as it has brought Ryan Seacrest's Los Angeles-based radio show to other markets in recent months. If a local show seems successful, the company will try to syndicate it faster than it might have in the past, a person familiar with the situation said.

CAN YOU IMAGINE? Ryan Seacrest on station after station after station. It's going to be like trying to find something other than Rush Limbaugh -- or Rush wannabes -- on AM radio from 11 to 2.

Only with overresearched, underwhelming Top-40 music.

Wash, rinse, find a Ryan Seacrest for each format, repeat. God Almighty.

Your Right Hand Thief.