Trick or Treat for Radio

I thought Halloween was over. Not for radio. November 10th is supposedly the date Clear Channel should receive the first bids in its breakup attempt. News accounts indicate that Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) may have had a head start on all of this several months ago. Some later bidders may be at a disadvantage because -- short of a deadline extension -- they will only have a few weeks to get their bids together. At the heart of Clear Channel's move is how a buyout group would deal with (or deal away) radio properties here and abroad, TV stations and outdoor businesses in and out of the U.S. So what could be in the bag of goodies? Treats -- lots of media will be in play if this goes through.. That's how investment companies make their money. Properties will sell. Money will be made. Bankers will smile. Trick -- the professionals who operate Clear Channel stations will have their careers thrown into uncertainty once again. They may wind up working for a better operator, may remain in limbo or may have to start looking for work. Treat -- is there any doubt the Mays family will come away whole -- maybe even better than whole? Trick -- the radio industry's leader, the one who sets the trends from "less is more" to sell the company for more is signaling the end of consolidation and the start of a period of great uncertainty and turmoil. Hopefully we will find no razor blades hidden in apples (to continue our Halloween analogy). Of course, razor blades in apples would in this case mean hedge funds. They're sketchy and Congress could be ready to restrict them if the Democrats win Tuesday's election. The overriding point is: radio's long suffering is not over yet, it has only just begun. But at least ten years of failed consolidation is coming to an end.