John Dickey Invents “Reverse” Country

What is “Reverse” country?

It happens to be what all the Cumulus country stations have coming their way soon.

Taylor Swift once per hour – no kidding – even though she left the country format years ago.

Johnny D is trying “Reverse” Country (his term, by the way) in some little, innocuous markets like New York and Dallas and then look out.   I can hear the sweepers now “Nash FM, We Play What John Wants” or “Nash FM -- Worse in Reverse”.

Seriously, I’ve talked to some real country experts and they have 5 observations I’m liking a lot so I’m going to share them.

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  1. What John Dickey missed when he decided to hedge his bet on country – there was a better way to get more listeners to sample Nash FM but he missed it.
  2. Better believe the record labels have something to do with this – here’s how.
  3. Two things that could have gotten Cumulus country on track (three if you count the non-authentic branding called Nash).
  4. History proves what happens when radio stations do hybrid music formats – here is the biggest disaster of all time and the Dickeys either don’t know about it or don’t care.
  5. James Brown – the Godfather of Soul (by the way is he buried yet?) – his advice on how to successfully program a country station and he’s 100% correct.

The answers begin here.

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Pittman and Bressler Pad Their Golden Parachutes

Quick: what do you do when your company is $20.4 billion in debt and you’re not going to make your numbers in the first quarter?

If you’re iHeart Media, the top guys give themselves a nice raise and get their golden parachutes ready.

I can promise you that a lot of iHeart employees who have to suffer under Bob Pittman (Frick) and Richard Bressler (Frack) are going to be angry when they see this.

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  1. How much are they appropriating for themselves – it’s huge.
  2. Why are they trying to sneak this through, don’t they have to deal with the SEC?
  3. The magic end date (they come right out with it) – is this the day they leave?
  4. Whoa! Is this a trial run to see if anyone notices? In other words, is there more compensation getting ready to be added to Rich and Bob’s deals.
  5. What Rich and Bob are doing is considered highly unusual – here’s what most companies do when building a golden parachute for key execs.

The answers begin here.

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iHeart Tower Sales Runs Into Trouble

What’s a poor, bankrupt company have to do to get out of the tower business anyway?

Looks like the critical $400 million sale of iHeart radio towers and real estate has hit the wall – and this time it’s going to cost them even more money.

The deal is still on but something fishy has happened.

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  1. Why is iHeart missing its closing date?
  2. Remember the two-part closing they talked about originally? What’s up with that now?
  3. What are the implications for iHeart markets that will have to give up in some cases millions of dollars in rental fees, make it up in sales and yet have no idea when push comes to shove.
  4. Why this land grab is so important to iHeart’s future bankruptcy options.
  5. The reward that Pittman and Bressler get if they deliver $400 million into the pockets of owners Lee & Bain.

The answers begin here.

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Panic Attack: iHeart Dropping Ad Rates 88.3%

I know, I’m making this one up, too.

That’s what the iHeart brain trust will say except that they’ve been caught in the act just like those child predators on MSNBC.

Low balling the market and screwing everyone.

Think iHeart is only doing this in just one city?

Think again.

Prepare for selling against dollar a holler rates coming to your market next courtesy of iHurtRadio.

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  1. The iHeart scam revealed – using three marketing companies to put on faux media seminars for the purpose of slashing radio rates at the end – we’ll name them.
  2. Why sellers are scared stiff that their regular advertisers, the poor unwitting schlubs paying full price will find out about it.
  3. Which advertisers and prospects are being offered these low, low rates for starters.
  4. How long, for how much money – I’m giving it to you to the penny right off the contracts.
  5. Oh no, wait until you see what they do with digital in this “too good to be true” ad package.

The answers begin here.

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Ed Shane

In one of his last emails to me, Ed Shane said he had attended an advertising meeting with the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo to bring them up to date that his web platform had nearly two million monthly hits and their YouTube views were nearly a million.

Ed was proud that the ad people told him that his Texas Music Project was well ahead of what many of the radio stations in Houston were doing.

Well ahead.

That’s what Ed Shane always seemed to be when he programmed WPLO, Atlanta back in the day.

Our paths crossed a number of times.

We both had the pleasure of working for John Tenaglia at General Cinema – me in Philly and Ed in Houston.

And we both received careful mentoring from the legendary George Burns who had a cosmic sort of way of letting people he worked with do what they were paid to do. What a concept!

Later Ed established a consultancy and he helped me with advertising when I started a fledgling trade publication.

In an industry where we have seen the end of good guys with brains in the their head, it reminds us how badly we are going to miss Ed Shane.

In his 60’s, he took on the challenge of launching an all-news format on a Radio One FM station in Houston. The company gave it a go for a few years and then started pulling back. Of course, you never do that in all-news, which takes many years to get going but pays tremendous benefits once you do.

I told Ed that when I listened to his news station it sounded bright and strong – I believe that is the word I used, strong.

I believe Ed could have done anything even launch a country all-news station which I wouldn’t be surprised if he wasn’t already doing that in the great beyond.

Ed passed away Saturday after a short but determined battle with colon cancer.

I was shocked.

I knew he had it, but just ten days earlier Ed was out of bed and walking around – the tests looked good. Still, that is how fragile life is, you never know.

My friend Don Cannon had been in a coma in a Philly hospital when he suddenly came to and held court as only Don could do around his hospital bed and yet although everyone thought he was out of the woods, it was not to be.

Among Ed’s other skill sets is marrying well.

His beautiful and intelligent wife, Pam, was not just a wife but a life partner in everything from raising a family to business.

My heart breaks for her.

I often get to speak at funerals – and believe me, I don’t seek out these gigs. But one of the most comforting things I can offer is that many people have had the benefit of crossing paths with this fine man and they are better off for it.

But as I often suggest to those who will miss him most – find the quality you like about him the most and make it live on through you every day of the week, every week of the year for the rest of your life in his living memory.

So now that Ed is probably programming a station in Heaven right next to Bill Drake and others who have left our radio community, I have the feeling he will do something about commercials loads up there.

Down here, it’s hell.

But the reward for a life well lived is eternal happiness (and fewer commercials) that I wish for Ed Shane as well as peace and acceptance for his grieving family and friends.

Ed Shane.

He was a good one.

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