CBS -- Clear Channel "Lite"

In spite of the fact that Clear Channel owns so many more stations than CBS, you have to wonder how number two gets away with so much less blame for helping the radio industry into the dumpster. It's true that Clear Channel started off the consolidation era with great hubris and litigiousness, but CBS shouldn't get a free pass in my view. Imagine if these two companies decided to lead rather than bleed the radio sector through consolidation. Imagine if even one of these giant companies decided to run their stations as separate entities and take a pass on the cutting and running they both did. Imagine more choices for the listeners. More jobs for the content providers and marketers. Hey, what am I smoking, anyway? Of course it couldn't happen. Mel Karmazin was running CBS or whatever it was named along the way and Mel never met a penny he didn't mind pinching. And Clear Channel surprised everyone as they emerged as the number one consolidator when the dust settled. Remember when Clear Channel used to be called "Cheap Channel" prior to consolidation? How could these two outfits lead the radio business? But CBS seems to get a free pass. They've got great assets and outstanding people working for them. In the past they've had to put up with Mel Karmazin bullying them and setting unrealistic expectations. The current radio head, Joel Hollander, is a nice guy but he's saddled by Viacom and in my view CBS has made a lot of mistakes. They are Clear Channel "Lite". All of this is awful and part of the reason radio is showing signs of decline. In effect, our programming top talent is bound with duct tape and driven to distraction with shareholder value instead of listener satisfaction. You know, in the retail busiess you can hire as many models as you like, spend tons of money on promotion and advertising, do deals with the chic retail outlets and you've still got nothing if you don't have a good product to sell. (See where I am heading with this?). So it is with radio. If you have efficiencies in the name of shareholder value and one manager running three stations and one jock doing shows in multiple markets you have nothing if you don't have the best product. Clear Channel let the radio sector down and CBS did, too. No more free passes. Before the dust settles again the big companies or their replacements will eventually have to turn their stations over to people who know how to operate them -- the very content providers they've hamstrung and fired. The facts show that shareholder value went down and the Wall Street all public radio companies got into bed with is starting to reject them because radio is no longer a growth business.