Clear Channel’s Latest Salary Dump

Wednesday, after I wrote about the Broadcasters’ Foundation selling out to Lowry Mays’ image rehabilitation program – a donation for an award named in the founder of Clear Channel’s honor – one of my readers wrote to remind me that it was probably an April Fools joke.

In radio lately, every day is April Fool’s Day it seems.

But my reader has the right idea for Phil Lombardo and the Broadcasters’ Foundation – just declare the “The Lowry Mays Excellence in Broadcasting Award” an April Fools joke.

Donors have written to say they are pulling Foundation funding as long as the Mays funded award exists. One even sent me a copy of a letter he wrote to the Foundation to inform them they will be getting no more funding from his group.

The Foundation insult has turned into a lightning rod for the thousands of talented radio people who have lost their jobs at the hands of the big radio operators and their lemmings – most notably Clear Channel, Cumulus and Citadel.

Lest we forget, one year ago Clear Channel orchestrated its second mass firing almost as if it were a promotional activity. The timing couldn’t have been more insulting since it was Inauguration Day.

I thought you’d appreciate an update on the people who lost their jobs and the kinds of under the radar tomfoolery the consolidators are still trying.

It’s awful – on one hand you get slapped in the face by a Foundation that supposedly exists to help out of work and downtrodden radio people and on the other that same Foundation names an award for the biggest unemployer in the history of broadcasting.

Last year's Inauguration Day massacre was sold as a necessary step to right the Clear Channel ship. Many victims of Mays and company have not been able to find employment in the industry they love. Some have told me they subsequently went to work at Wal-Mart. Others have taken non-industry jobs to pay the bills – obviously they are not getting rich like the Wall Street equity holders who screw up and take a bonus.

Few victims are still working in radio.

Some are ill – or they have family members who are sick. They just want to get through it.

Another thing I’m just going to put out there so you can hear it – is that many, many fired radio people have lost their self-esteem since their livelihood was taken away. Fired en mass in some cases. Relieved and then shown the door in others without being able to say goodbye or take their personal belongings.

Nothing about these layoffs has been done with dignity.

Cumulus, the lean mean Dickey machine, has even been accused of trying to keep people they discarded from working for competitors by threatening to enforce non-competes. In other cases employees were forced to sign non-competes after they were let go to get their final paychecks.

Citadel is apparently coming up lame with severance money – guess that bankruptcy is just another excuse.

And Cumulus among other radio groups is being accused by former employees of not paying commissions owed upon termination or resignation.

Bullying is a big tactic as lawsuits are being threatened against fired employees as a seemingly standard operating procedure.

I wish this were all a bad dream and we could wake up and take radio back, but what I am relating to you is what I have been hearing from other victims of radio’s demise. The very people who built radio into businesses that investment bankers overpaid for in the first place.

But it gets worse.

Clear Channel is back to salary dumping again apparently learning that mass firings come off like the executions they are so now the new way to put people out of work is to do it quietly and not tell truth about it.

Look at Clear Channel.

They fired two top rated personalities in Pittsburgh within the past few weeks. See the stories at these links. Click here and here. Note the repeater radio that is used to replace some of the fired --- cheap programming from their bevy of Prime Choice, Tainted Chuck or whatever they call syndication programming that isn’t as good as local radio.

It’s not an isolated example, Clear Channel did the same thing in San Diego – another week/another market. Dumped a huge morning show in San Diego, Dave Shelly and Chainsaw who'd been at KGB for over 20 years.

Clear Channel said they couldn’t reach an agreement but they then ran an add looking for a morning show for KGB – a cheap morning show.

And in Texas, Clear Channel is ever so politically correct as it ditches Lex & Terry as a local show on KEGL, Dallas which had served as their flagship station. Their syndicated show survives to help eliminate the need for local talent salaries in other markets but as far as KEGL -- well, they want more music, less personality and cheaper talent even if it happens to be local.

But it's not just Clear Channel.

Here’s what a former radio employee named Ted Turner had to do when he ran up against the Lean Mean Dickey Machine:

“After working over 10 years for the money grubbing Dickey's they let me and several others go - yet wanted me to be bound by my non-compete. I had to hire a lawyer to make the non-compete go away. For others who have been intimidated by the Dickeys and their non-compete contracts.

"My Lawyer pointed out that they have been inconsistent in enforcing their non-compete clauses and in my case owed (me) more more (sic) as stated in my contract......We got the money and the non-compete was never an issue again. Don't let the Dickey Boys and their in house Lawyer frighten you. That same lawyer tried to call me after being contacted by my Lawyer that I was represented by him as my Lawyer. He then had to refresh the (Cumulus) Mouth piece about Lawyering 101 - " All communication must go through my Lawyer " We never heard from them again”

But the worst of all is that one year almost to the day after Clear Channel fired 1,850 more people – and 11 months after they started exterminating careers more quietly under the radar, guess what the Evil Empire does?

Participates in the PhoenixHires job fair in Phoenix according to local TV station and becomes one of 21 companies who the TV news site said were ready to hire people on the spot.

On the spot!

Just like Cumulus hires wet behind the ears cheap workers to replace higher salaried and more talented employees to continually trim the budget.

So here is my conclusion.

The major radio consolidators disrupted lives, ended careers and doubled or tripled workloads to get an opportunity to cleanse their groups of people earning a livable wage.

One year later, never forget – what’s happened to radio is what has also happened to the country and our economy.

The banks have had their way with the radio industry propping up the likes of Dickey, Mays and Suleman and they skate away having ruined the industry and decimated the work force only to live another day under bankruptcy protection with all the radio stations they've compromised still firmly in their possession.

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