Major Cumulus Staff Cuts Coming

Recently Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey proved once again why he has earned his nickname “Tricky” Dickey.

Lew fed the happy talk radio trade press red meat recently when he proclaimed Cumulus had hired 50 sales people in the past year and planned to hire 50 more.

Perhaps you saw it.

Of course what Tricky Dickey failed to mention was all the careers he ended this past year. Politically correct as he thought it might be to emphasize hiring, Lew for some reason or other just happened to leave out all his firing -- go figure.

In one account, Dickey was quoted as saying, “We hired 50
new sellers in the last six weeks, and we’ll hire 50 more before year’s end.” He credited the recovering sales market that is spurring the new hiring.

Dickey seems to want it both ways.

At the same time he says things are getting better, he tells analysts “It could be ten years, or maybe 2016 before we reach $21.5 billion again” referring to the radio industry high from three years ago.

Dickey is both optimistic and pessimistic at the same time.

Must be nice to be the boss of a family-owned dry cleaning business – I mean, media business.

That’s why Lew goes on to perform another one of his “now you see it-now you don’t” tricks. Dickey says Cumulus will key on cutting expenses at the exact same time he is managing by cutting back.

There you have it -- guns and butter at the same time.

Hiring and cost cutting all at once.

This man is a genius.

You may wonder how CEOs like Dickey get away with such illusions as part of their quarterly reporting of revenue. That’s because the analysts who are on the conference call are just like him.

Here’s what is really ahead.

Insiders at Cumulus say more staff cuts are in the works:
  • No more Senior VPs . Does that mean that corporate henchmen like Gary Pizzati and Mark Sullivan will be Market Managers again?
  • More Market Managers to be changed out. New hires come in at much lower compensation and fit into Dickey’s plan to continue to cut costs. Most Market Managers will likely have more than one job because it will save the company – well, you get the point.
  • More cuts in market sales management on the way. Sales seems to be a big area of focus not in the way you would think. You know, the economy is down, radio is hurting, let’s get more AEs on the street selling. Not that kind. The let’s hire inexperienced people to drum up new business and give the prime accounts to a chosen few – for the purpose of …? You guessed it, saving money.
  • Potentially more changes in account executive compensation.
  • Almost all stations will have syndicated or non-live AM Drive shows.
  • Voice tracking will handle the remainder of the day except specifically approved markets where a one-person PM drive show may be allowed. That person may also have to multi-task in promotions and/or other jobs in the stations.
And before you dismiss any of this, keep in mind that the Cumulus M.O. is to deny everything while they are implementing it.

I’ll say this for the Dickeys. They sure don’t let failure stop their plans for future failure.

They have had their way with people’s careers as well as surrenderedtheir fiduciary responsibilities as licensees in markets where they really don’t do much local programming.

Cumulus sales initiatives have done no better than Clear Channel or Citadel – in fact, Citadel lost a little less money and you know who Citadel has a date with ...

Judge Shorty Long at bankruptcy court.

I feel badly for the fine people at Cumulus. They, like their brethren at the other two nearly bankrupt consolidators, are helpless to do anything.

These employees could turn the ship around but not while the know-it-all Dickey brothers are playing monopoly.

One reader sadly wrote about a friend of his at Cumulus, “The one guy said, ‘you think you know what pressure is.... You have no idea! Not only is the pressure intense, but at Cumulus no longer does anyone have any friends.... people are afraid to talk with each other! They are afraid to use the phone! Some people leave the bldg to use the rest room. They go to their car to use their cell phone."

So, what have we learned from all this?

If Lew Dickey tells you that Cumulus is hiring, it is code language for firing (just the first letter is different)?

If Lew Dickey says radio will be in the toilet until 2016, why is he the Happy Warrior at just about every convention he attends (and that's a lot of them)?

When Dickey says the only way to hold out until 2016, he means turn his radio stations into dry cleaners. Reduce the costs, cut the hours, hire the cheapest employees, use toxic chemicals (okay, I’m lying about the last one, but the others are good).

And if you don’t believe that these Dickey brothers are nincompoops then perhaps you haven’t heard what "Other" Brother John Dickey said about Apple.

Check it out with Cumulus employees, some of them have already heard what I'm going to tell you.

Seems that John Dickey, also known as Fredo to some, told a stunned sales meeting a few weeks ago that these cockamamie Cumulus policies (spy meetings, sales initiatives, cutbacks) should be viewed and thought of much like what Steve Jobs is doing at Apple – always innovative, daring to be different and cutting edge versus their competitors.

Needless to say the staff was dumbfounded by this unbelievable analogy.

The Dickeys have it all wrong.

Apple is hiring.

Apple is not firing.

People want to work for them.

Apple employees love to work for their boss and Cumulus employees can’t wait to leave.

Apple's CEO is quirky and odd but at least he is successful.

Harvard, the school that brought you Lew Dickey, is renown for teaching business by examining case studies.

Here’s some homework: Read this article about Apple CEO Steve Jobs and tell me whether it is describing Lew Dickey, too.

We report. You'll split your sides laughing.

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