Radio's Latest Believe It Or Not

Look what the Three Stooges of radio consolidation are up to.

These are things that have happened within the past few weeks at Citadel, Clear Channel and Cumulus that will make you laugh out loud (if not shed a tear or two).

Cumulus Pays $500 If You Refer an Employee and They Stayed Employed

Stay employed?

Are they kidding?

Arguably the most employee-unfriendly company is asking the employees they have left to actually recommend new ones -- you know, maybe their cheaper replacements.

As Cumulus said in their recruitment piece:

“We understand our success is driven by the quality of our people. We want to reward YOU for assisting us in identifying exceptional individuals to join our organization by your recommendation”.

Here’s how it works (and yes, I'm not making this up -- I couldn't -- it's too bizarre).

Current employees are asked to review the openings on the Cumulus CSOS website. Then, recommend someone that Cumulus should contact (would you really set up a friend to get that call? Friends don't let friends get recruited by Cumulus).

The employee gets a $500 referral award --- but don't start counting the money so fast.

Let’s let the Dickey Nation tell you in their own words:

“A $500 Referral will be rewarded to any Cumulus employee that nominates a person who a) gets hired and b) that stays hired through the standard probationary period of 4 contiguous months of employment. We appreciate your referrals as they will enable us to build upon the reputation as THE broadcast company where exceptional people aspire to have a prosperous and rewarding career”.

Oh, you must also turn over your second born child to the Cumulus family. Okay, I made that up, but the rest is real even if it is a way for the Dickey Doos to dream on.

The fact that the Dickeys actually think employees would recommend people -- good people -- to work for a company that has a reputation for being so mean and vindictive shows how out of touch with reality they really are.

It's like asking your friends if they'd like to be kidnapped and held against their will.

No More Paper at Citadel

And when I say "paper" here, I'm not talking about the term used when some lenders make loans although there is plenty of that at Citadel.

Their company is going to hell in a hand basket and what does the ultimate bean counter, Farid “Fagreed” Suleman do?

Not hire more salespeople.

Not improve local programming.

No, he hires vCreative to take Citadel’s six Knoxville stations paperless.

Nothing against vCreative, but really ...

Now these stations are both gutless and paperless. I mean, what kind of move is that when you’re in bankruptcy? I know. It’s saving on paper clips. But if they really wanted to save money, cut the corporate compensation to $1 a year until the bankruptcy judge approves the transfer of equity for debt to the lenders.

I know I am not a bean counter but doesn't that sound like a lot more savings than going paperless?

Clear Channel’s Do-It-Yourself W-2s

One of my Repeater Reporters tells us that at the Evil Empire, even IRS rules don’t apply:

"Here's something for you... Clear Channel Radio San Antonio did not mail out ex-employee's W-2s. They are making us call in and beg them to mail them out. I am going to the IRS office tomorrow to report them."

Well, here’s what the IRS reportedly said:

“They told me there was nothing they could do about not getting my W-2 until after February 15th. That right (it) is crazy because they give employers a cut off date of Feb 1st this year and they won't enforce it until February 15th!!!??? I was also told one of the guys that didn't receive their W-2 was sent a link to retrieve it off the Internet”.

I guess with Uncle Lee and Uncle Bain, less means never having to say you got your W-2 on time.

Cumulus Brags About People Who Work Overtime Without Pay

Talk about asking for a lawsuit.

Lost in a news release that was widely regurgitated in the happy talk press last week was this apparent admission by Cumulus that it not only allows but rewards employees who work seven days a week without receiving the appropriate extra compensation:

“JEFF ANDREWS has done an absolutely fantastic job with the launch and ratings growth of the new i94/INDIANAPOLIS. His dedication as PD and air talent have included 202 days on the air (including weekends) out of 206 days on the job. Congratulations, JEFF. Your dedication represents the CUMULUS Gold Standard. JEFF looks forward to joining heritage Top 40 WHHY (Y102)/MONTGOMERY as PD”.

This is a promotion?

It probably will help a lot of ex-Cumulus people in their lawsuits for back pay. Many states including California have tough laws about allowing employees to work without commensurate compensation. The courts order back pay in cases where employees file suit.

What speaks volumes is that Cumulus is asking for a lawsuit by seemingly rewarding such behavior and bragging about it in a news release.

(TiVo and DVR Alert: Tomorrow I will tell you about one of the big consolidators that is getting sued by -- sit down for this -- a terminated employee who has hired a major law firm. Oh, and they want you to join in).

Robbing Peter to Pay Lew

An ex-Dickey Nation employee sheds light on how corporate allegedly uses local stations to generate income that goes directly into the Atlanta coffers – bypassing market manager budgets and therefore avoiding compensation:

1. "Corporate Allocation charge--It was a line item under G & A to 'pay for corporate's services'. I managed (several) markets for them) and this expense was about $1600 per month per market.

2. 'Independent Music Promoter Money'. As a PD in the 1980's I REFUSED to work with Indies--I thought it was shady and illegal. In the late 90's people like Jeff McClusky made arrangements with stations in writing, above board. There was no telling stations what to add, but rather exclusive reporting to McClusky and based on the market and your station averages adds per year, they would pay for promotion, billboards, etc. When I went to work for Cumulus, McClusky had a deal with ALL of Cumulus markets--although the $$$ was never shared with the markets. It went straight to Atlanta. As time went by and the markets saw decline or down years, the promo slush fund we enjoyed at (my previous employer) was not available with Cumulus. And of course Tricky and his brother Abel, I mean John, cut promo dollars out of your budget first. Crazy huh?"

Consolidators have long since abandoned “legal payola” since an attorney general named Eliot Spitzer began going after them.

These are just a few of the many outrages that, in my opinion, have contributed to the demise of a great industry.

Lack of respect for people, their working hours and family.

Dirty deals that bypassed station coffers to enhance the corporate pot – especially when the corporate pot was ransacked by family members.

Petty savings such as cutting back on paper when that and a million cutbacks like it are not going to equal cutting executive compensation.

It’s all very sad, but sadder yet if radio consolidators got away with it without anyone shedding light on another installment of Radio's Believe It Or Not".

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