Radio’s Believe It Or Not

The New Year has hardly begun and my Repeater Reporter network is back in full swing again reporting abuses and out of this world real stories about the consolidators who are running radio.

They are burning up the phones to 1-800-CALL JD.

Just as in Ripley's Believe It Or Not that inspired this series -- these deals, bizarre events and items are so strange and unusual that readers might question the claims.

As incredible as they may seem, sadly, there is no shortage of bizarre stories like these in the radio industry today.

Here are the latest allegations:

Cumulus Writes Up a Sales Rep for Too Much Business

A well-experienced sales pro rats them out:

“When the new management team came in 1st month I was "written up" for too much agency biz. Never mind I was the top biller I was also told I made too much money? I brought in huge amounts of local direct but I also brought in too much agency. I was fired 3 months after the new manager was brought (in) … The manager was 34 and left Cumulus less than 1 year later. The worse radio company I have seen! Lew Dickey came in once and called us by the wrong frequency? He was there to fire our GM and bring in the new manager."

Lew, don’t answer the phone. This person is hiring an attorney.

Over 60’s Working Up to 80 Hours a Week at Clear Channel

Does this mean that John Slogan Hogan likes older employees like himself or is he trying to get them to quit. You be the judge. Let’s go to the tape:

“People over 60 that had been working double shifts and up to 80 hours... that's right 80 hours a week to keep the fire going. They replace them with younger, hourly staff. It really hits home. It is a desperate move. I have heard they are going to centralize both production and traffic reports. That is the next phase”.

Next Media Owes Commissions, Too

Here’s is a person who is owed significant money by one of the recent radio groups to file for Chapter 11 protection. Good luck with that!

“…Due to their size they don't get much negative publicity and they are deserving. As an aside, Cumulus isn’t the only group withholding pay...NextMedia still owes me commission and I know of several people who earned performance bonuses in 2008 and 2009 that were never paid. Next (to last) Media just ignored the fact that they owe folks money”.

No Yom Kippur at Cumulus

“I have another friend who is Jewish and she had counted it as a legal holiday on her days off. (Gary) Pizzatti actually said, ‘do we recognize Yom Kippur’ as a legal holiday? I would have asked him if we recognize Christmas as a legal holiday … How ignorant of him … so she was forced to use it as a personal day”.

Clear Channel Cuts a Cancer Patient’s Salary – But Only His

When I owned Inside Radio I wrote about stories I uncovered where Clear Channel employees were put at a disadvantage when they were most vulnerable – during illness. You can imagine how sick it made me to get this email with the same old allegations:

“I wanted to tell you how cold Clear Channel really is. There is an on-air personality in Memphis, TN who contracted Cancer, actually leukemia - a very aggressive and fast moving form. While he was out the company acted like they cared and so on and so forth and then once he was 1 day into being home and considered in his first stage of remission (sic) he was told his salary, only his was going to be cut by 10% for 2010.

When he asked if he was the only one he was told yes and he was also told that this would occur during his second round of Chemo-Therapy. Can you believe this group of nuts?

Can you believe how selfish and self-motivated they are that a single dad with a survival rate of less than 5 years is going to lose 10% of his pay? How do they sleep at night?

The employee in question was receiving his second round of chemotherapy just before Christmas.

Cumulus Allegedly Threatens An Advertiser Who Asks for a Payment Plan

Think the money’s a little thin at Cumulus? Well, this reader reports what he/she thinks is no way to treat a usually good advertiser who got behind on payments.

"I found this interesting as well, when my client's check bounced I got a text from my former gsm saying that the comptroller was going to call the sheriff and press charges and a vm from my market manager saying the same thing. I called my client and told him.

I have never heard them say that they were going to do this in the past. My client spent over $20k and the check that bounced was $4k, he wanted a payment plan when I left and I gave them his contact information...I have just never seen them this mean or desperate”.

Cheap Channel Cuts Back on Light Bulbs

Let’s end on an enlightening note from one of my readers praising the virtues of local owners who care.

“A few years ago I worked with Ed Schultz while he was syndicated by Media America. I visited him in Fargo and couldn't get over how dark and barren the radio station building he was in appeared.

Two years later the new owner of the station cluster, James Ingstad asked me to visit their talk station KFGO in the same building. The Ingstads are a local family with a long history of local station ownership. They hired GM Nancy Odney.

On my second visit, I was stunned how the building was bright, light and vibrant. I mentioned this to Ms. Odney who revealed, "Clear Channel, the prior owner, wouldn't replace the burned out light bulbs." Really.

The Ingstads doubled the local on air staff, eliminated virtually all syndicated shows, rewarded the news department and in the process likely saved lives in last Spring's massive floods. (And won many awards.)

Take a look at the ratings for Fargo. You'll (see) all the Ingstad stations doing very well, growing, including their new Sports station KVOX which they signed on last year.

Local works”.

The good news is that there are still local operators who don't skimp on light bulbs, don't screw their employees when they are sick or down on their luck and don't threaten otherwise good advertisers who happen to be in short pants these days due to the economy.

No management school in the world would teach operating a business the way these consolidators carry on -- believe it or not, they keep inflicting harm to themselves and others even as their actions cause continued financial stress.

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