The Best & Worst Radio Groups

I've been polling my readers for the past week or so to get their thinking on which radio group is the best and which is the worst.

The voting has been ongoing -- and will continue until the end of the year.

You see, unlike New Jersey, Chicago and Florida, you get to vote only once here.

I'm kidding -- I'm kidding.

But unlike those places, my readers can change their votes based on current events.

Unfortunately current events in radio fail to bring any good news.

For context here, we pulled our candidates from the BIA list that is readily available on the Internet. We combined the two Cumulus companies (Susquehanna and the original Cumulus mess) together to reside as one on the ballot.

You can see the voting up to the minute by clicking here.

Inspired by the late NBC newsman Tim Russert who used a simple chalkboard to explain presidential elections, I'm going to give you my interpretation of how the industry is voting for The Best & Worst Radio Groups on my digital chalkboard.


Cox is first with around 18%, Bonneville running a close second at 15%, Greater Media (at 10%), CBS (at 9%) and Saga (8%).

There are no surprises here.

These groups have generally been acknowledged as the best -- and I concur. The best way to think of it is -- which group would you like to work for if you had a choice? And Cox, Bonneville and Greater Media always show up.

Saga is interesting because I hear increasing complaints from some Saga people regarding the cutbacks, and CEO Ed Christian's compensation. But then again Saga is probably the best company at managing its debt service and I think people must be giving them credit for that in this poll.

CBS is run by a solid radio man -- Dan Mason. He knows how to do good radio but unfortunately he also has the pressure of meeting corporate cutback levels. And although I have never asked him about it personally, I just know he must hold his nose every time he has to cut a morning show, dump a format and go with a cheaper one and do all the things all the rest have to do.

Dan Mason, tied and gagged, is more radio smart than Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey with his Harvard ring.

And there is another good point -- these top groups are winning by small margins.

Some 18 or so percent for the best radio group.

Look closer and you'll see most radio groups don't even get 5% of the Best Group vote. And Clear Channel with John Slogan Hogan ordering all his minions to vote CC as often as possible has not been able to garner even 2% of the vote.

That says it all -- most people are not impressed by radio operators and why should they be? These are the devils who have dragged the radio industry into the toilet.

And speaking of toilet...


Breaking News...Cumulus is out Clear Channeling Clear Channel 43% to 30%.

This may be the surprise of the polling unless you work for Cumulus.

The Dickeys have gone and done it. Maybe they can't drive their stock prices up beyond 63 cents but they have finally managed to beat Clear Channel at something!

And that's remarkable because Clear Channel, like Bubba the Love Sponge, is the "Original" Evil Empire.

Apparently the spying, hard knuckle tactics, institutionalized paranoia, centralized command run by dodos (pronounced dough-doughs), and ineffective human relations has caught up with Lew Tricky Dickey because Dickey has done for Clear Channel what they could not do for themselves -- make Clear Channel #2 in the "Evil" department.

By the way, the Wiki definition of dodo birds is:

"The phrase "dead as a dodo" means undoubtedly and unquestionably dead, whilst the phrase "to go the way of the dodo" means to become extinct or obsolete, to fall out of common usage or practice, or to become a thing of the past".

Just sayin' -- if the shoe fits, wear it.

This just in -- Developing Story ...

Citadel is the third worst group at 10%.

Again, thank you once again Mr. Dickey.

Citadel's Farid "Fagreed" Suleman has clawed his way to the bottom of his industry as a bean counter turned radio CEO. He's fired, cut, nipped, tucked -- emboldened the anti-Dale Carnegie Judy Ellis and somehow -- Citadel's public image got away with it all if you believe the voting.

Either that or Fagreed is hiding under his desk calling Mel Karmazin on his Blackberry and asking him what to do next.

Or, Cumulus and Clear Channel are literally so bad that even China looks better when it comes to human rights violations.

What's significant also is that hardly any other radio group on the ballot got any significant voting for Worst Group.

I'll say that again -- after Cumulus, Clear Channel and Citadel -- no other radio group got any statistically significant voting support for "Worst Radio Group".

Either these three are so bad that they pale in comparison to the others or voters think the three bad guys start with a "C".

Here's where we stop having fun ridiculing the Worst and feel the sadness and perhaps outrage.

Could it be that a handful of despots tanked the radio industry because of their own greed, ineptitude and arrogance? Well, if you've been reading me for any part of the past almost three years you know that is my take.

You see (here's the sad part), this could have only happened with consolidation.

The same consolidation your NAB fought for and sold mom and pop down the river without a life raft.

The same consolidation that has killed the U.S. economy in many other sectors.

Hell, a recession is only part of what is wrong. When a handful of guys lead good people to walk the plank for their own personal gain, then you see what has happened to radio.

Because while these "C" level CEOs have been playing in their sandbox supplied by your elected officials and government bureaus, the world has changed and the radio industry has failed to keep up.

Failed to keep pace with the Internet, mobile devices, social networking, podcasting, a new on-demand generation that wants more than "teen" radio formats -- you get the idea -- because you know what is wrong.

Just as The New York Times (as good as it can be) is clueless about newspapering in the Internet space, radio execs have no idea what the audience wants, what to do -- or even who the audience really is.

Can you say HD, Repeater Radio, tight playlists, less local involvement, no live personalities?

Just as Yahoo blew it.

AOL lost it.

Radio has let it all slip away.

What do these three have in common?

So, the voting will continue day-by-day -- and unlike Iran, there is no Ayatollah to speak to the disgruntled voters -- this vote is real.

And while I can't call a projected winner in the "Best & Worst" election, I can predict a projected loser.

The American listener who has radio available for free everywhere and still wishes they had WiFi available everywhere.

The destruction of radio could not have occurred if realistic station ownership limits had been retained. I know the FCC is reading this so please take this as another plea that we want re-regulation.

No, not the kind that tells us what to do or say (like "equal time" Fairness Doctrine laws).

Just keep order.

Keep the playing field fair and level.

Don't give anyone too much power.

The Mays family is the poster child for what happens when all the power goes to only a handful of people.

And if you want to get America working again, how about giving the radio industry a fighting chance -- not against competitors -- but against its own kind that decided to eat its young and get rich at any cost.

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