Clear Channel's Repeater Radio Sham

Clear Channel's latest managers meeting has produced the industry's biggest bait-and-switch plan to nationalize and regionalize its programming to save money.

The company is burning through cash at a record pace and the largest radio consolidator, now owned by Lee Capital Partners and Bain Media, has resorted to selling snake oil to the public, federal regulators and lawmakers.

Under the guise of producing better radio, Clear Channel has announced a quality improvement plan.

As Inside Radio put it, "CC PD's to Focus on Quality".

That's really odd because Clear Channel PDs had no problem focusing on quality before now.

It's actually the other way around: The new owners are too focused on the bottom line.

After all, they built the company the Mays family put together on expensive credit.

To listen to Clear Channel, there must be a quality problem now. At least as part of their latest scheme to demean their workers to justify more cutbacks.

The bait-and-switch that Clear Channel is trying to sell to the public is basically this: we cut back local programming and at the same time announce an empty shell that it touts as increasing local public service programming and outreach.

If you're looking for more smoke where the sun don't shine, consider this news account:

"The multi-point programming initiative gives PDs a newly-created analysis tool to assess which air talents are delivering the biggest audiences. PDs also get new content options to plug into their line-up. Clear Channel also announces it will expand public service efforts, including establishing community advisory boards".

The facts are PDs will have little say over these decisions. They've been lamenting a loss of control over programming for a long time but with all the corporate cutbacks many have had to go along with the company's misguided plans just to keep their jobs.

"A newly-created analysis tool to assess which air talents are delivering the biggest audiences."

They're kidding, right.

Bill Drake is laughing in heaven right now where he is no doubt counting down the musical history of the Ages (in order, of course -- as we "Drake PDs" know).

The new content options Clear Channel PDs get to plug into their lineup are Ryan Seacrest, Steve Harvey, all things Premiere Radio Network and whatever they're told as long as they don't hire local talent.

Hell, the company has gone nuts. It employs so-called yield managers to do what the best employees in the business who work for them already know how to do.

And if you're wondering why newspapers are going out of business, take a look at this cream puff piece in The Denver Business Journal that couldn't be written any better if Radio President John Slogan Hogan did it himself.

It's a sham.

Bait and switch.

Brother Love's traveling salvation show.

All rolled into one.

Let's cut to the quick here.

Lee & Bain know nothing about running the almost $20 billion company they overpaid for. John Hogan knows next to nothing.

It's all about saving money because if you read my piece yesterday (scroll down one), you'll see that no one wants to own radio stations. The market is dead. Lenders are getting screwed and they can't even opt to take their borrowers down with the threat of bankruptcy. They don't even want the stations back.

Clear Channel has been quite transparent about the real intent of their plans all along.

National or regional programming that the Big CC PR Machine is going to say listeners want more than local radio. Now, that's pretty damn self-destructive.

As we said a few weeks back, Clear Channel has a plan in place to make sure there is a warm body on duty at every studio site -- looking ahead to possible FCC objections to turning their local broadcast licenses into a network that has basically nothing to do with the local city of license.

Mr. or Madam Congressperson -- check five years ago and compare with today -- are your radio licensees making their audiences any better off today for cutting local programming and firing local talent? Go ahead, document the changes.

Is this what a license has become -- a license to steal local radio stations from the public airwaves?

And that's exactly what Clear Channel is trying to get away with.

You know what happens next -- the bottom feeders, Citadel, Cumulus, Regent -- and the others, will likely follow in lock step. Some groups have already panicked into slice and dice mode because they are bleeding red ink.

So, look...

Is Clear Channel capable of being honest about anything they do?

If they want to do Repeater Radio why don't they just have the balls to admit to it. After all, it's their plan, isn't it?

If they have to fire more people because they can't operate their company profitably even with the mega monopoly they have, why not step up, Mr. Hogan, and say so?

Why insult everyone's intelligence by saying your local programmers need a new quality program?

Why force national programming down their throats while calling it more options? Hell, most PDs if not all will opt for local given the choice.

Why try to mislead the federal government by having a low-wage employee sitting in a studio somewhere so when tragedy occurs in some of your markets you have a defense for not having live local employees to handle it?

Why lie about your managers having the autonomy to make decisions? As The Denver Business Journal news item says, "Managers will have the latitude to choose content and talent for their stations as a way to generate more audience and ultimately advertising dollars".

They don't.

And they haven't had the autonomy they needed to run a local station while Hogan and his crew are playing chutes and ladders with their assets.

It's one thing to say, it's our company and we'll do as we please.

Quite another to expect anyone with half a brain to believe one word of the dribble Clear Channel is trying to sell the public.

Maybe they don't like the negatives of Repeater Radio.

Maybe they like Regional Radio or No Brainer Radio.

If you want to see why a handful of cluster f#@ks have fatally wounded a business, look no further than the latest charade which is tantamount to nothing more than playing monopoly with themselves.

So knock yourself out.

Former and present Clear Channel employees and others who love radio can't stop you, but they're waiting for the day all hell breaks loose in one of your local markets --- the ones Hogan thinks are better off with national programming.

That minimum wage body you've got in the potential hot seat is going to earn their money as your only defense for stealing radio licenses and making a mockery of them.

In time, Clear Channel will self-destruct.

I say, self-destruct because no one could harm the Evil Empire more than their own actions.

To Clear Channel employees out there -- many of us admire the hell out of you for giving so much and putting up with such nonesense because you are professionals.

Every dog has its day and your day is coming.

Clear Channel guaranteed it when it nailed down Repeater Radio yesterday.

I don't know one radio person who would have picked John Hogan out of a lineup to run the world's biggest radio group.

Let's start there -- the speed of the leader determines the speed of the pack.

How about a quality improvement program to hire new management?

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