J-Hog's Plan To Downsize Personality Radio

It looks like Clear Channel had a “come to Jesus” moment recently when they rehired their morning show team on WDVE, Pittsburgh.

The Evil Empire didn’t just turn into a bunch nice “guys” when they offered Randy Baumann and Jim Krenn a chance to come back to work.

Turns out for once it was a real layoff -- not really a firing.


You kick the two off the air in January – annihilate them from the station website, allow their loyal listeners to forget that they ever heard them on the radio and then change your mind and bring them back with PR kisses and hugs.

Let’s see, anyone taking bets that the duo got a pay raise?

Okay then, how about a long-term contract?

In this case, you would be correct. Clear Channel locked in the morning team into a new multi-year agreement in a more favorable deal -- to Clear Channel.

Welcome to radio in 2010.

I guess it is becoming apparent even to Clear Channel that they can’t pipe in Prime Chuck repeater radio from Premiere to keep expenses down – at least not in big radio markets like Pittsburgh.

CBS President Dan Mason already knows he’s got to have personalities on in the morning and Mason has the same financial restrictions other operators have.

The bottom line is that a morning show generates somewhere between 40-60 percent of a typical successful radio station’s income.

And being able to sell access to morning shows by forcing advertisers to other day parts – well, it's priceless!

Clear Channel also locked in WDVE morning team members Val Porter and Mike Prisuta which at the very least is fascinating to me.

You see, they are the same company that cleaned out Gerry House's house -- letting some of his popular support staff go in a budget cut. And Gerry House generates local as well as national advantages for Clear Channel.

None of this makes any sense unless you are John Hogan or J-Hog as some of his employees call him (behind his back, of course).

Could this be the start of a new trend – recognizing that morning shows have production costs?

Or is it that WDVE couldn’t go without their star personalities another month without calling the year a financial disaster?

You be the judge.

Now that Clear Channel got its way the horse shit is flying.

Like Market Manager Dennis Lamme’s spin in the publicity announcement welcoming back Baumann and Krenn (warning: you are about to feel sick to your stomach -- remember, this is the guy that took them off the air).

"Randy and Jimmy are a great duo … with WDVE being the heritage station and the guys being together for 10 years, we thought it was important that they stay together…”

Told you it was B.S.

If they were so great, Mr. Lamme, then why did you take them off the air?

So allow me to re-write the news release in Inside Music Media style which is direct and honest:

“Randy and Jimmy were a great duo on-the-air but not at the price they wanted to renew their contract. These selfish bastards are making it hard for me to suck up to San Antonio by forcing me to show increased operating expenses for my morning show. It wasn't my fault. I had no choice. Even though they have been together for 10 years, we at Clear Channel broke their will and got them to come back at John Hogan prices”.

Now that's better.

In the past six months, radio has been seeing morning shows disappear faster than the Health Care Bill and Clear Channel has been an industry leader in firing talent and disappointing loyal fans.

They did it in San Diego not long ago to an uproar of protests.

The new Clear Channel plan to downsize the costs of personality radio is to play "you're fired" and "never mind" or at least threaten it so they can get personalities to work cheaper.

Wait a minute.

I get it.

What's the worst thing you can do to a radio personality?

Take away their show, right?

Then, when they can’t get another job in the same market, you go back in and offer them a cheaper deal. After all, they get paid too much anyway, right?


Morning shows have more than delivered their return on investment because without a morning show you’ve got a pretty unremarkable radio station and not a very profitable one.

You think Clear Channel is beginning to figure it out?

And while Citadel rolls out Donny Osmond as a bean counter’s dream, you and I both know the show will be a stiff. Nothing against Donny.

Radio loves their local personalities so if Donny wants to move to Cleveland I think he can be a radio star -- in Cleveland.

Personality fan-based radio is the one thing an iPod can never be (unless, of course, you transition these personalities to podcasting).

It’s the only thing that radio has left that breeds loyalty and return visits.

Back in Pittsburgh, the Post-Gazette reported that:

“Mr. Lamme said he has been e-mailing listeners who had contacted the station with questions to let them know that Mr. Baumann is back. He said the team plans to work Mr. Baumann's disappearance and return into their morning show comedy routines, and the station is referring to it in promos. 'They're going to have fun with it.'"

When a Clear Channel market manager uses the word “fun”, start worrying.

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