Randy James Fitzsimmons, R.I.P.

Last week my friend Randy James Fitzsimmons drove through Scottsdale to have a medical consultation at Mayo Clinic.

We met for a drink at The Phoenician the night before and shared some old zany programming stories and I invited him to my monthly lunch meeting of Phoenix radio and TV guys the next day. He seemed to enjoy himself immensely to forget about his problems.

You see, two kinds of cancer were killing him.

One, was stage four prostate cancer that spread to his rectum and colon.

The other was Clear Channel, now known as iHeartMedia.

I think he suffered with Clear Channel more. I really do.

Randy was terminal according to Mayo doctors and left Scottsdale after lunch to drive to Oregon, a state where assisted suicide is legal.

I used to joke with Randy that in New Jersey we pronounce Oregon – “Ore-gone”. Gallows humor, yes but we laughed which is better than cry.

I tried to be as upbeat as possible speaking with him a few days earlier.

But when I went to bed late Tuesday night (early Wednesday morning), I did not yet see his final email to me sent at 3:06 am Arizona time that said “Goodbye. You've been a good friend Doc. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to say goodbye now, so please tell my story”.

My nickname for Randy, a Westerns buff, was Wyatt Earp. And he called me “Doc” Holiday. Program directors never grow up.

The story I promised to tell was how Clear Channel ruined his life and that of his family including his wife who worked for them as a revenue manager.

It’s an awful story – he had to fight prostate cancer and fight iHeart at the same time. He died suffering, broken-hearted and broke. He also left two daughters behind.

Randy realized that no one would ever hire him, talk to him, believe or respect him after the going over he got from iHeart and from former friend Mike “Benedict Arnold” McVay, a person for whom he held contempt.

McVay had every opportunity to defend Randy over the years and speak on his behalf -- even hire him -- but he didn’t.

Randy wrote a letter to Bob Pittman right after John Hogan was fired hoping to correct Clear Channel’s wrongdoings that included denying that Randy ever worked for Clear Channel in the first place even though Randy James was one of their well-known successful “Mix” program directors.

I once told Randy, call IRS. If Clear Channel denies you worked for them and you’ve got the pay stubs (which, of course, he did), let’s see if they paid their payroll taxes.

Clear Channel/iHeart allegedly poisoned Randy’s employment file which included false sexual harassment charges and lies about his character. How’s that for the pot calling the kettle black?

Pittman decided to take that olive branch and shove it right where the sun don’t shine and turned it over to their attorneys.

Then iHeart hacked Randy’s email – confirmed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (no less) and private Internet detectives.

iHeart hated him and called him crazy and then screwed over his wife, Leslie, a revenue manager working under Greg Ashlock in LA.

They punished Leslie for being married to Randy and in the end negotiated a separation agreement so she could leave and in return buy her silence.

Randy James was also a former Jacor PD and when he went to Randy Michaels recently seeking help, Michaels told this stage four prostate cancer victim to “get a grip”.

Have we lost touch with the fact that we’re all going to leave this earth someday? You, too Randy Michaels. Be nice.

Randy James signed over his insurance to pay for the assisted suicide that ended his pain.

There are many days I wonder why I even bother writing about these awful radio companies that have no compassion for their employees. It may be hard to read sometimes but it is always hard to write. I have contempt for the happy talk radio trade press for turning their heads the other way.

I fought Clear Channel in court and often, Randy liked me to tell him the unedited version of my $125 million lawsuit against The Evil Empire.

Most radio people are such a generous breed.

I love everything about this business except the carpetbaggers that have come in and caused the pain and suffering that they do.

Randy’s story is not the exception – I know of too many sad stories about good and loyal radio people treated in similar inhumane ways and I’m going to share them.

So, no more Wyatt Earp and the good times we had.

One less radio guy mistreated mercilessly by The Evil Empire.

And one more broken heart -- mine.

Randy James, you were a good man.

Good husband and father.

A man who loved radio and all that it is supposed to stand for.

Before he died, Randy and I joked about the Pearly Gates. I suggested that when he gets to Heaven that he look up Bill Drake (the iconic radio program director of the 60’s and 70’s) and I said, “Give him your resume. He’ll love you”.

My friends, in spite of the evil that emanates from greedy radio groups these days, let us never forget the goodness of those who only wanted to make their living making others happy.

That’s how I get through it.

They are our brethren.

Rest in peace, my friend.  

I’ll miss you, buddy.