What Would YOU Pay Mark & Randall?

I know chief executives make a lot of money and I'm not a complainer who is going to nit pick executive compensation decisions. These folks are responsible for everything that happens in a company so why shouldn't they be paid well.

However, when I read that Clear Channel CEO Mark Mays made $9.31 million in 2006 and his brother, President & CFO Randall made $9.28 million I had more than a couple of questions.

My first question?

Why does Mark get to make a little more? Did Lowry love him more?

I guess you can just chalk it up to sibling rivalry.

But what's really got me lit is what the hell did Mark and Randall Mays do to earn over $9 million each last year!

Not much if you look at CCU's share price.

Not much if you look at all the time they are spending trying to take their baby private.

Certainly Mark and Randall are not the only radio execs whose compensation doesn't match their performance. In satellite radio, Mel Karmazin stands to make $30 million if all goes well with the merger and after all, it's Mel. He's our industry superstar. Why shouldn't he make $30 million, right? At least he merges and touts Howard Stern and avoids screaming "less is more" to the ad community. In fact, maybe Mel earns the premium because Wall Street actually still loves him.

But I want to return to my premise that these top guns are responsible for everything that happens in their companies so they deserve to be paid well -- that is, of course, when their companies perform well.

So, I'm going to take it upon myself to take matters into my own hands.

I am willing to start with $9.2 million for, say, Mark Mays and kind of adjust his pay downward if he kind of misses the mark -- kinda!

Let's start with the $9.2 million.

Take off about six million for presiding over a company that has hurt shareholder value -- the holy grail of public companies. I mean, can we really let Mark Mays make $9.2 million when for whatever reason his company tanked again in 2006?

Then reduce it further, say another million, for deciding to take Clear Channel private. Even if he's not successful -- and that's an increasingly good bet at least this time around -- he's going to make obscene amounts of compensation upon closing and so are the banks and investment companies. Give the $1 million to the janitors who clean up Clear Channel facilities. You know I am a bleeding heart liberal, but doesn't that idea sound good.

How about another $1 million off Mark's salary for all the needless litigation he allows Clear Channel to get into (my special area of interest, I might add). Certainly it's not much of a stretch to assume that Clear Channel has wasted at least $1 million in lawsuits. Okay, probably a lot more, so Mark's got to take the hit.

Oh, and deduct another million each year he has John Hogan making decisions his hands on operators could make better -- maybe that will "learn him" as they used to say. I'm going to assume again -- and it's only an assumption -- that Clear Channel lost at least $1 million in poor business decisions. Ya Think? Firings, hirings, format changes, missed business opportunities -- all on his watch -- so I'm going to dock him again. What do you say?

Then, another million for every year a big company like his does the minimum amount to dominate the Internet radio and mobile space -- the future frontier of broadcasting. Hey, isn't that what the stock market is all about -- futures? Streaming your already existing formats does not an Internet radio strategy make. So I'm going to have to attribute another $1 million in lost salary to share price losses due to not being prepared for the future. It really should be more, but Mark's got to eat, too.

And, two cents off for each time he doesn't let his top programmers give their two cents on programming decisions. The biggest consolidator with near monopolistic powers emanating from the Telecommunications Act of 1996 should be number one in more markets. I'd dock him for that. Two cents can add up. Don't laugh.

And another $1 million off for allowing a brain drain of Clear Channel executives almost on a constant basis with reorganizations and firings. Certainly it's not a stretch to see $1 million lost by bad decisions here. Bet it's much more. Let's be kind and only deduct the million.


Something is wrong.

Mark Mays has given back all his compensation under my plan and I've hardly gotten started. And if I invite you, my readers, to suggest take backs by clicking on "comment" below, he might owe Clear Channel even more money. (Be careful, you might want to remain anonymous -- after all it was once called The Evil Empire).

What a concept.

You perform, you get rich.

You under-perform, you're lucky to get paid.

What's wrong with that?

Well, apparently some shareholders are currently looking to acquire the power to vote on an advisory resolution to ratify compensation of the top executive officers of Clear Channel each year.

Clear Channel's board is recommending that shareholders vote against the proposal.

The company has a good chance of prevailing because shareholders were dumb enough to buy and hold Clear Channel stock and it's been in the dumpster for quite a while.

What's an extra $9.2 million to them?

I mean $18.59 million -- don't forget brother Randall.
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