Radio’s Believe It Or Not

April Fool's Day just passed and all the pranks and outrageous behavior are behind us -- right?


Lately in radio every day is Fool's Day as witnessed by these real life stories of radio CEOs being radio CEOs.

You would think that the recession was over a long time ago the way radio companies are spending their money – not just the bankrupt ones.

Have you noticed how people are still being fired even though many of the firing companies are hiring again?

No joke.

That Clear Channel spent more money in the last quarter of 2009 on lobbying efforts than they spent in the same quarter a year earlier. Fighting attacks on their outdoor eyesores and trying to keep the return of the Fairness Doctrine from ever happening and advocating free speech issues.

No cutbacks on legal fees, apparently.

Clear Channel has found in the neighborhood of $3 million a year for lobbying efforts while making employees do voice tracking as an expected part of their original compensation or as I like to call it, a twofer.

The cutbacks are being exposed for what they really were – a means of reinventing local radio to resemble an efficient Wall Street takeover.

Well, there is something to look forward to.

Just six months until Oliver Stone brings us the “reformed” Gordon Gekko in "Wall Street II Money Never Sleeps”.

On that note, let’s look at this month's Radio’s Believe It Or Not:

High Salaries at Clear Channel During Cutbacks

Clear Channel is paying its new Chief Financial Officer, Tom Casey, $750,000 a year to replace Randall Mays.

Sound like a bargain?

Read the Form 8-K – Ex-10.1 employment agreement and see if anyone in San Antonio thinks financial sacrifices apply to them. Casey was recruited from Washington Mutual:
  • Eligible for annual increases in compensation.
  • 20 days of paid vacation
  • $1 million bonus. That’s right. Here’s the wording: “For calendar year 2010 and each calendar year thereafter, subject to annual increases as may be approved by Company, Employee’s target bonus (“Target Bonus”) shall be equal to One Million Dollars ($1,000,000.00), subject to bonus criteria of 70% Company financial performance-based and 30% MBO-based”.
  • $500,000 signing bonus (guess he wouldn’t sign this agreement without a little extra financial motivation)
  • Employee may participate in employee welfare benefit plans in which other similarly situated employees may participate as stated in the Employee Guide.
  • Travel and entertainment expense reimbursement – wouldn’t Clear Channel employees love to be reimbursed for taking John Hogan to dinner in a recession?
  • Relocation policy for 24 months – that sounds like buying his house if he can’t sell it.
  • 250,000 stock options for starters.
And this is the financial guy who is responsible for making the numbers work, right?

Oh, and keep in mind that Randall Mays still draws pay as a "consultant". The money is still flowing in the executive offices of Clear Channel in spite of all the firing the company continues to do.

Free Overtime

An ex-Cumulus employee snitches on their potentially illegal employment policies:

“I can tell you that not only does Cumulus 'encourage free overtime' they bully and intimidate people to work overtime and not report it on their time sheets. I had several conversations with employees who were afraid to report overtime, and they BEGGED me to please not make an issue of it. I encouraged people to keep track of their time and do the math so they would see that they were actually working for less than minimum wage. This issue goes beyond sales people, and is the status quo at this company. Unfortunately the employees are afraid to speak up, and therefore, Cumulus will continue to get away with this”.

The solution may be found at the US Department of Labor's website.

Radio employees should keep documentation of all of the time they work, and of all conversations with management regarding overtime pay, etc. One day they will find another job, and when they do they will not be afraid to speak up for fear of retaliation, and if they have everything documented they can file a claim for back pay.

A Tricky PPM Loophole

From a Repeater Reporter:

“Check this out: Cumulus buys a station, in KC does not use their call letters, just calls it The Dam and jiggers it, using some HD signal, and since there are no DIARIES then the PPM will give credit to their ailing rock station 101.1 the FOX! If it's not illegal, it's definitely immoral and sneaky”.

Read details here.

Entercom’s Version of Less is More

From another reader:

“Here in Greenville, Entercom's Talk station has been trimulcasting on one FM and two AM stations for quite some time now. Two others were sold off to time brokers. So the number of commercial avails has shrunk”.

We’ve seen stations do non-commercial (KING, Seattle), heard of Internet stations charging listeners $50 a year to listen (KPIG) and now what I expect will proliferate, increased simulcasting or trimulcasting of signals to reduce costs and pressure inventory.

When Clear Channel’s John “Slogan” Hogan applied the term “Less is More” did he actually mean “Fewer Is More” – like in fewer original stations competing for ad dollars?

Let’s end this edition of "Radio’s Believe It Or Not" with a scary thought from one of my Citadel readers who toils for one of the three most employee unfriendly radio groups. He reminds us of a quote from Stephen Covey:

“Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers”.


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