The Lowry Mays Excellence In Broadcasting Award

I’m going to puke.

And apparently you are ready to lose it, too, if my mail is any indication.

Excellence and Mays in the same sentence – are they kidding?

If you haven’t already heard, The Broadcasters Foundation of America has created the Lowry Mays Excellence in Broadcasting Award to “salute” the founder of Clear Channel.

Is this a joke?

Yes and no.

It’s true enough alright but it is still a joke and an affront to an industry that has been ruined by the very consolidation tactics Mays and his family used to line their pockets and reduce great local stations to repeater radio.

The Broadcasters Foundation of America has in the past been a pretty good group of people who, as part of their mission, offer money to out of work or down on their luck broadcasters in radio and television.

And no one has done more to put broadcasters out of work and down on their luck than Lowry Mays and Clear Channel.

I’ve never been much for political correctness so no one is going be tempted to give me any award even for trash collector. I’m just happy to have your vote every morning when you click to read me.

But are we all going to seriously sit around and watch a travesty put out there by this group that is embraced and promoted by the happy talk press?

I’ve got my baggage with Mays and Clear Channel so I’m going to lay it out there for those of you who don’t know before I say another word. We have no secrets. We tell each other everything.

Mays and Clear Channel sued my publication Inside Radio for $100 million. That’s right $100 million. Alleged RICO (racketeering). Said I made up the stories but never proved it. Ran a website that Clear Channel called a parody that denigrated my Italian heritage, insinuated that my father was in the mob (he was dead at the time and a good man, I can assure you).

I countersued for $125 million. Texas lawyers (theirs) vs. New York lawyers (mine). That alone could have stimulated the economy. Sit down for this. I spent $800,000 of money I really didn't have fighting them (selling my house, my office building, etc.) until they suddenly had a change of heart and decided to buy Inside Radio and make me richer than I deserved to be.

Money is nice but that's no way to get it. I was fortunate.

So, you can see why I am seeing red this morning when this group is trying to make that man a nice guy.

But if all of that never happened to me, how about the thousands of radio folks – many my dear friends – who were first asked by Clear Channel to take on more work, then hog tied with budget cuts and finally laid off (their term for fired). These folks are good people trying to send their kids through college, earn a living and do what they love to do – radio.

They didn't ask to be rich. Just employed.

Some were humiliated – sent home on the day they were fired with an escort to the front door, not allowed to clean out their desks.

Others were ill, some critically who were also compromised at a time when employment was crucial.

Clear Channel even made a promotional event out of firing by conducting a mass firing in the thousands like it was a sweepstakes on Barack Obama's Inauguration Day.

I’m sorry Lowry had a stroke. I really am. I’m not like that and I don’t wish personal harm or illness to anyone including him, but this urge to deify a “bad motorcycle”, as my 50’s readers might call him, is just plain misguided.

And … an insult to radio people who have seen their jobs vanish and the industry they love in various stages of decline at the hands of the likes of Mays, Suleman, Dickey, Hogan and the entire bankruptcy team.

That’s right – they made a fortune on the way to bankruptcy or at least selling out to avoid bankruptcy.

So now, a suck up foundation is going to make a saint out of this devil?

Not so fast.

Sometimes before we meet our maker we want to right our wrongs and show remorse for our sins. Even death row prisoners do this occasionally.

But I don’t hear Mays apologizing for anything at all – nothing -- and I have certainly not ever heard a word of remorse from this guy and believe me, I hang onto his every word as you might imagine after my brush up with Darth Vader.

If you’re not livid by now, take a look at what passed for a news release yesterday and how full of bull it really is.

Warning: You are entering a bullshit zone.

“Clear Channel Foundation and the law firm Wiley Rein have contributed $125,000 to fund the award, which BFA chairman Phil Lombardo says will honor a broadcaster each year whose work exemplifies excellence in broadcasting, with elements of innovation, community service, advocacy and entrepreneurship”.


Clear Channel’s favorite law firm of the month gets anointed in a saintly fashion, too!

Have they no shame?

I wonder what it took to make the law firm of Wiley Rein to dig into their pockets and contribute to the $125,000 price package – perhaps a look at how much money they make suing people for and defending The Evil Empire.

My friend, John Rook, the outstanding and legendary program director was bankrupted by Mays and his crew – left virtually broke and with his three small stations hijacked because he couldn’t pay the lawyers to fight them.

But there’s more from the press release …

“I am humbled and honored by this tremendous gesture,” says Mays.

He should be ashamed for letting the Foundation embarrass themselves or asking them to.

“But, more importantly, I invite all broadcasters, no matter how long they’ve been in this great business, to contribute to the Broadcasters Foundation of America so it can continue its great work in helping others in the industry who have run upon difficult times.”

That’s it. I’m done.

This man put together the Evil Empire. He caused more difficult times than anyone up until recent days. Now he wants us to contribute to the Broadcasters Foundation in his name to help the kind of people he harmed en mass.

The Foundation is looking for nominations for this bogus award by February 15th and the first recipient will be named at the Foundation’s choke-and-puke fest at the NAB in the spring.

I would consider entering the witness protection program rather than have my name associated with the mass career murderer of the radio industry, I don’t know about you.

So, play nice if you must.

Piss and moan privately if you have to.

But I am no longer going to run free publicity for the Broadcasters Foundation of America as I have done in the past even for a good cause like helping broadcasters out of work or down on their luck.

Not when they honor the guy causing all the unemployment.

And I am certainly not going to ever write a check to this group.

The best way to send a message to Phil Lombardo and his brownnosers is to cut off the funds. It’s quite simple -- if you want to help broadcasters down on their luck, give them a job -- don't fire them.

And boycott the Las Vegas awards banquet and keep the pressure on until The Foundation recants and renames the Lowry Mays award.

Something like "The Lowry Mays Execution in Broadcasting Award" and there will be plenty of his friends and fellow consolidators who will be proud to receive it.

Let’s get this nightmare over with and move on to the promise of the digital future.

For those of you who would prefer to get Jerry's daily posts by email for FREE, please click here. Then look for a verifying email from FeedBurner to start service.
Thanks for forwarding my pieces to your friends and linking to your websites and boards.

The people attending my Media Solutions Lab next week in Scottsdale are going to get a full dose of innovation about the digital future and the new mission for radio – learn from the best innovators, how innovation can change the future, ways to start your own media businesses with the skills necessary to succeed.

Want to attend?

Register for my Media Solutions Lab here.