Randy & The Rainbows

I saw a video of Randy Michaels speaking to a group of newspaper people at the Allentown Morning Call.

I’ll say this – he hasn’t lost much. He’s the same old guy. Still able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Seated next to wackadoodle Tribune owner Sam Zell and some poor exec from the Morning Call who looked like, “what planet are these guys from?”, Michaels rolled up his sleeves and went to work.

Randy called for honesty. More ideas. Hard work. He talked about the reality of today’s newspaper business.

It’s a good rehearsal for what he’ll have to say if and when he and Zell acquire some of the Clear Channel properties from Lee and Bain – assuming the banks finance the deal and it closes. The Clear Channel shareholders are not the only ones crossing their fingers while the parties try to reach a compromise on a $36 dollar reduced purchase price.

You may have read that Randy rankled the Los Angeles market recently when he made some untrue claims that the LA Times was bigger than almost the entire radio world out there. He raised the ire of Mary Beth Garber, the outstanding radio advocate who represents the Southern California Broadcasters Association. She’s so good she could even sell CDs to an 18 year old.

Garber skillfully disputed Michaels who was loose with the facts, but it is still classic Randy Michaels. You were expecting a change?

What doesn’t change is his passion to do almost anything to win – a quality an ice hockey fan like me kind of appreciates in some ways. Today, he’s wearing the hat of newspaper publisher. Tomorrow, could it be radio group head?

Zell has again promoted Michaels to in effect make all the major decisions now on running the newspaper and TV company.

Those poor newspaper guys must be thinking a cup of hemlock must be looking awfully good right now.

Plus, they see this band of desperados ride in from the radio business.

Lee Abrams – now that’s a real newspaperman if I’ve ever seen one.

Jerry Kersting – never met a newspaper he didn’t like to read. But acquire more newspapers for Zell? Doubtful.

The usual retinue of Michaels followers are in the house. Bobby Lawrence, Pam Taylor, Frank Wood and a small group of Clear Channel defectors.

I call the entire group -- Randy & the Rainbows.

They have arrived on the scene to create a new age Zelldom for a group of troubled businesses – local TV, newspapers and maybe – just maybe – radio.

This is a corporate statement if there ever was one – a Shirley MacLaine mindset – that through means yet defined something cosmic is due to happen over the rainbow.

Hey, I’m a believer.

While it’s hard to comprehend newspapers doing anything more to become popular in a world that doesn’t need printed publications, Randy & the Rainbows just might do it. Maybe sell the papers as fish wrappers with a code to access the real news online.

Local TV is at a crossroads – it’s main profit staple, local news is being cutback and the available audience is getting older – Randy & the Rainbows just might reinvent television – maybe as a log burning static picture like the ones we see at Christmas time except this one can actually warm the room and save on fuel costs. Who knows?

And radio – well, isn’t that why Randy hired such good radio people to cross over to the dark print side for a while. They are awaiting the arrival of tons of troubled radio stations, the way the medical residents on Grey’s Anatomy await ambulances full of potential surgery patients.

Randy Michaels is having fun again.

And he’s doing it the way he always has – a hard fighting competitor who won’t accept anything less than winning.

And when he tweaks the broadcasters in LA, one of radio’s largest markets in the country, some see a turncoat – a modern day Benedict Arnold.

I see – a calling card.

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