Another Radio Group Develops Cumulitis

Ask the employees of KGO, San Francisco if they’d rather have Cumulus run their cluster or whether they’d give anything to get former Citadel CEO Farid Suleman and Judy Ellis back.

The Dickey Brothers have been brutal to local radio.

They’re quick on the trigger to fire people and have a small group of trusted henchmen carrying out orders.

Plus lots of cockamamie ideas to gut local programming – no matter how iconic a station may be – for cheap programming solutions.

I’m here to tell you that the destructive Cumulus game plan is so popular with investment banks and greedy owners that another radio group is getting a bad case of Cumulitis – the disease that eats away at a radio station while lining the pockets of chief investors.

And even good groups are now open to some of their policies.

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  1. The latest major group to go over to the “dark” side.
     
  2. A total of four radio groups that are now adopting Cumulus tactics and policies.  Some are damn good which worries loyal radio people.  Here’s who they are.
     
  3. Specific ways these companies are becoming more like Cumulus.
     
  4. How long can good, local and people-friendly radio groups hold out until even they succumb to Cumulus operating policies.

If you would like to see which radio groups are beginning to adopt Cumulus strategies and what the strategies are, click “read more” below. 

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Gutting the Major Markets

  • Why Clear Channel is handing over the talk franchise in Atlanta to Cox along with the keys to success:  Rush Limbaugh.  You don’t do that without an alternative plan.
     
  • The end of AM as we know it.  Why it’s no longer worth it for large radio groups to even run cheap syndication on AM stations. 
     
  • How Clear Channel is in behind the scenes negotiations right now to steal talent away from competitors.  Here’s what they plan to do with this talent.
     
  • The timetable on the gutting of major market FM music stations complete with the extent of the damage and timeframe.
     
  • Come away with a look at how major market radio will change in just one year for now.
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Merlin’s Meltdown

  • What went so wrong at Merlin after less than two years.  Let me count the ways – 8 to be exact! 
     
  • What one move – not commonly known publicly – sealed Merlin’s fate.  Not the firing of Walter Sabo.  That, too!
     
  • Specific evidence that CEO Randy Michaels’ denial the stations are for sale is a fib.  And why he’s making it up?
     
  • Who might want to buy the 4 major market Merlin stations.  Yes, I’ll name names and I’ll betcha I’m right.
     
  • The surprise buyer no one is tracking that could buy one or more Merlin stations and knock your socks off.   That big a deal.  That surprising.
     
  • Is Emmis a buyer – or a potential dealmaker since it owns about 50% interest in 3 of the 4 Merlin stations?  It’s complicated.

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Clear Channel Firings Exposed

Clear Channel is in the middle of another massive reduction in force – especially in certain types of targeted markets and for a sustained period of time.

Already, a troubling pattern is emerging.

The firings are becoming more brutal and the way they make the decision to fire an employee has actually been outsourced.

Here’s how it’s now being done with actual quotes from fired employees and insights as to the reductions in force ahead from people close to the situation.

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  1. How many?  How long?  How brutal is brutal?
     
  2. How Clear Channel by and large outsources who is to be fired by people outside the market.  Way outside.
     
  3. What it’s liked to get fired after more than a decade of employment from soup to nuts – the call, the axing, the aftermath.  A recent victim confirms the coldblooded firings in detail.
     
  4. The “dog whistle” phrases used by firing managers to prevent lawsuits.  The coded language that appears to mean one thing to the victim but has a different meaning to corporate lawyers.  Here’s one:  “today is your day”.  You won’t believe the others.
     
  5. What kind of severance to expect.  As Bill Clinton says, do the arithmetic using what a decade-long employee got.  And work downward.
     
  6. The one – and I mean one – stay of execution that I have heard of in four years of Lee & Bain’s ownership.  How lucky do you feel?  Or unlucky as you’ll see in this case.

The answers begin here.

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New Radio Firing Ploy

Just when you think the radio industry ran out of ways to fire people, they come up with another.

Except this time, they’ve actually got the attention of the employees they are firing.

And if this approach catches on, it may be coming to a station near you soon.

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Apple, the Failure

What could possibly make Apple, a company that sold 5 million iPhones over the weekend alone a disappointing failure?   And I’m not even talking about Google Maps here.  The same bad rap is starting to happen to media companies.

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Warner Music’s Sweet Revenge

Universal Music finally won approval to buy EMI last week, but not without a troublesome divestiture mandate that could end up backfiring.

This is like a bad soap opera.  UMG is forced to spin off a major part of EMI’s European assets.  But it’s who could make the winning bid for them that is UMG’s dilemma.  One is another label.  The other is a wannabe label.  And because UMG already paid Citibank the $1.9 billion price for EMI before the divestiture requirement was known, it may have to take the highest bid even if it screws them.  Why the last 3 labels standing have weakened their ability to be all-in digital.  What about higher consumer prices and creating a new tax on digital innovation.  Thank this merger for what’s coming next.

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