Another Black Eye For CBS Radio

What kind of welcome is this for Dan Mason as he takes over the helm at CBS Radio?

Free FM - WFNY, New York -- talkers JV and Elvis Duran conducted a prank call on-air directed at employees of a Chinese restaurant that included ethnic slurs and sexual slurs. The call was conducted and aired on April 5 and -- believe it or not -- was rebroadcast last Thursday.

They were finally suspended indefinitely without pay.

The Asian community is up in arms. They want their heads. Activist Vicki Shu Smolin told The New York Times "If they don't fire the D.J.'s it will be a double standard". The dreaded boycott of advertisers is planned.

I'm not going to repeat the insults here. You're free to choose whether you need to hear it on the link below.

Yes, it's CBS again.

CBS either hires the dumbest on-air talent or CBS hires the dumbest management or both. Look, Dan Mason is no fool, but he inherited this mess. He's trying to turn around the radio group not put fires out. I'm betting he'll make this situation right.

Still, what is it with the radio industry? I know it's trending downward but does it have to accelerate that decline?

Does the industry have to fight for its right to free speech based on boneheads? That gets old after Imus, Imus imitators, Rush Limbaugh, Neil Boortz, Michael Savage and numerous other serial offenders.

I thought CBS CEO Les Moonves no sooner got finished with his dramatic Imus mea culpa when now this happens.

Doesn't radio "talent" get it?

Are there no consequences for them when they go over the line? It would seem that way. CBS has not recovered from losing shock talker Howard Stern to Sirius Satellite Radio, then Imus. Are they playing defense in the name of slumping revenues?

Let me see if I can offer some unwanted advice.

How about empowering your program directors to hire the talent, ride herd on the talent and, yes, fire the talent if they go too far in offending the sensibilities of their communities.

And if the PDs don't?

Fire them.

This is not a new concept. It actually was the way it was before consolidation -- way before. There were consequences for dumb mistakes -- loss of your job. My friends in the radio industry can testify that we program directors had a healthy respect for -- hell, feared -- several things.

The FCC -- loss of license or a fine.

The boss -- loss of confidence or the job -- mine!

The future -- loss of reputation that might prevent us from being gainfully employed on the people's airwaves somewhere else.

So, tighten up while you still can 'cause you'll never be here again -- if you continue to cross over the line of good taste in the name of free speech or commerce.

I've said this all along.

This is a management issue -- not a First Amendment issue.

It's about competence and consequences for bad decisions.

Until radio gets off of this negative track of winning (ratings) through intimidation, it has no chance to be part of the digital future -- where the younger audience is migrating and where the future lives.

Personal note: My apologies to the eloquent reader who sent this to me regarding the spate of Imus stories recently:
"Ask yourself why YOU have done so many stories on Imus, when there are so many more deserving stories to cover in the media. So many less sensational stories. Rather than cover more pedestrian issues in the media, you choose to use your blog for an endless stream of negativity. Why? Because it provokes passion and reaction.

Take a page from your own blog. Leave the easy subjects like Imus and VA Tech alone and come up with more creative subjects. See if you can".
I have failed you again. I just feel that it's not the provocative nature of the morning abuse stories that interests me, it's the mismanagement angle. Forgive me for one more rant.
My First Annual Lowry Awards recognizing individuals and companies that embody the concept of Less if More is coming before the week is out and a separate post on managing radio by losing money is on tap for tomorrow. Sign up below to guarantee delivery (then check your email filter and be sure to confirm).

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