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.

If you are a subscriber, thank you for joining our group.  Just click through and unlock the content.

If you’ve been thinking about taking Inside Music Media for a test drive and would like to access this story, let me tell you what you will get.

  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. 

If you’ve been thinking about attending my January Media Solutions Lab, there are 2 ways to get the limited time only $300 early-bird discount.  Register online here.  Or lock in the rate and arrange for easy payments.  Contact Cheryl at (480) 998-9898. 

Win $100 for the Best News Tip of the Month for your favorite charity (or for you, if you’re your favorite charity).  Best tip wins.  Report newstips anonymously and confidentially here. 

See what I’m reporting on Twitter & Facebook and LinkedIn.

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.

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.

If you are a subscriber, thank you for joining our group.  Just click through and unlock the content.

If you’ve been thinking about subscribing and would like to access this story, this is the kind of straightforward reporting you get.  Click “Read More” for your choices.

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.

If you are a subscriber, thank you for joining our group.  Just click through and unlock the content.

If you’ve been thinking about subscribing and would like to access this story, let me tell you what you will get.

  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.

If you would like to read this story, learn how to have access to my entire archive (1,700+ pieces) and get daily email delivery, click here for your choices.

I’m putting together a working conference for radio executives who plan to do innovative things in the digital space other than streaming and praying for FM chips to be activated on smartphones.  A curriculum for media people who desire to get a leg up on digital content.  And a stronger game plan for radio executives who want to stay in radio and thrive in the digital age.  Get a first look at the program and put a hold on the best price that will be offered for my 2013 Media Solutions Lab here 

Thank you for all the nice words about my new, free blog on inspiration, motivation and innovation.  And I appreciate you forwarding the daily doses of dynamite to friends and associates.  If you haven’t seen what I’m doing and have a moment, I’d value your opinion.  Look here.  I plan to do workshops and talks around the subject matter.

One-third of all the stories I investigate come from good people like you in strict confidence and complete anonymity.  I joke that we’ll put you in our Witness Protection Program but it’s no joke – I’ve always protected my sources.  If there is something you want me to investigate, click here

Converse with me anytime on Twitter & Facebook and LinkedIn.  I’d love it.

And, as always, talk with me privately here.  Thank you for supporting what we do.

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.

If you would like to read this story, get daily email delivery and learn how to have access to my entire archive of 1,700+ stories, click here.

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.

If you would like to read this story, get daily email delivery and learn how to have access to my entire archive of 1,700+ stories, click here.

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.

If you would like to read this story, get daily email delivery and learn how to have access to my entire archive of 1,700+ stories, click here.

The iHateRadio Train Wreck

Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio concert series and app are starting to backfire

Employees and people familiar with what they are doing now say that the costs are going through the roof and the benefits are declining rapidly.

Too bad most major radio groups have hitched their future to iHeartRadio.

They’re going down.

  1. Clear Channel is making apparent false messaging claims related to the just concluded Las Vegas music festival.  What receiving and replying to their claim of 50 million messages really costs them – from an industry insider who knows.
     
  2. Deep resentment is building at local radio stations over iHeartRadio (which employees even refer to as iHateRadio).  Here’s the little known rub that really burns them up.
     
  3. What iHeartRadio partner companies – their actual radio competitors – are coughing up to be part of this sinking ship.  Yes, even down to the deal details – here.
     
  4. The new trend in radio right now is not so much that Clear Channel and Cumulus are fantasizing about not being local radio companies but that something even more troubling is starting to happen.
     
  5. The real unvarnished reason iHeartRadio is worth all the hoopla and expense to Clear Channel – and no, it has nothing to do with getting listeners or making money.  Even more important!

If you would like to read this story, get daily email delivery and learn how to have access to my entire archive of 1,700+ stories, click here.

John Hogan For President

John Hogan is my choice to cure the problems of the Romney presidential campaign.

He’s Bain trained.

Here’s how John Hogan can save the election or better yet how Bain (with Thomas Lee Partners) can return Clear Channel to the state it was in when it completed the purchase for $24 billion four years ago.

  1. Dump Romney & Paul Ryan and go with Hogan and this Clear Channel choice for VP.
     
  2. See the people President Hogan would pick as Secretary of State and press secretary.  Plus what he would do to build a strong military and repeal and replace ObamaCare.
     
  3. How President Hogan would close Mitt Romney’s gender gap with women based on many years of Clear Channel experience.
     
  4. Most importantly, how Hogan would deal with the deficit.
     
  5. Oh, and why John Hogan should show all his tax returns every year he worked for Bain because – well, because he’s in the 1% and he didn’t build that.

If you would like to read this story, get daily email delivery and learn how to have access to my entire archive of 1,700+ stories, click here.

Clear Channel’s WOR Sale, Z-100 Renewal Challenged

By another radio company – not a community group.

Are these guys crazy or do they have another motive?  Nobody takes on the Evil Empire, unless…

If you are a subscriber, thank you for joining our group.  Just click through and unlock the content.

If you’ve been thinking about subscribing and would like to access this story, let me tell you what you will get.

  1. The premise for the petition to deny – How Clear Channel is being accused of warehousing radio stations – operating them even when they are under legal mandate to divest the stations as part of previously approved deals.
     
  2. What company bought the most stations in the Clear Channel Trust so far – you’ll never guess which one it is.  Never.
     
  3. Even if the license challenge is unsuccessful, what this maneuver could do to the WOR-Clear Channel purchase.  This could be one shrewd move.
     
  4. Why would David pick this losing battle with Goliath?  It makes no sense – until you read this.

If you would like to read this story and get daily email delivery, click here.

Reserve a seat at my next “Music, Broadcasting & the Digital Future” Conference and Big Ideas Breakfast January 30-31.