Thanks�but no thanks
In the spirit of the holiday, Clear Channel again gives �thanks� to employees as the company�s termination tournament continues. Five Clear Channel employees in Syracuse, have less to be thankful for this week as the Clear Channel ax chopped their jobs in an effort to improve the bottom line.
The blood letting has hit Atlanta too, as morning talent Tom Hughes after almost three decades of loyalty at WGST was axed along with a 15 year vet, Kim Peterson and two local show producers. Clear Channel has decided to discontinue local programming in favor of stuffing the station with syndication from their Premiere Radio outlet.
They join a flock of Clear Channel employees in Baltimore, Maryland; Cincinnati, Ohio; Charleston and Greenville, South Carolina; Hartford, Connecticut; Indianapolis, Indiana; Lexington, Kentucky; Macon, Georgia; Manchester, New Hampshire; Memphis, Tennessee; Minneapolis, Minnesota; New York City; Miami and Orlando, Florida; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Providence, Rhode Island; Rochester, New York; San Francisco, California; St. Louis, Missouri; Spokane, Washington; and Tallahassee, Florida who head into the holidays minus a job.
It comes as no surprise that almost all of the cuts have come at the expense of programming.
Trying to sooth the ruffled feathers of employees nationally, Clear Channel honcho Mark Mays attempted to sell the company�s recent actions but probably fell short when he ended his remarks with �On a personal note, I�m very pleased to let you know that both Randall and I will be staying with the company in our current positions�
Meanwhile, a class action lawsuit has been filed charging the company and its directors breached their fiduciary duties to shareholders when they agreed to sell Clear Channel at a �wholly inadequate� price that would leave the Mays family and their equity partners in control.
= = = = =
"More" - Gave Less
The decision by Clear Channel that it will sell 448 radio stations outside the top 100 US media markets can only be good news for radio and the communities they serve.
During the run-a-way deregulation of the past Clear Channel paid more attention to dollars and cents than to exercising common sense. While �less is more� surfaced as a more recent statement by Clear Channel to explain their need to reduce over commercialization, the company�s need to own more and more radio stations has given less local content to the communities they have been licensed to serve.
One of the more sensible rules of past ownership required a licensee to provide local news and information. As the owner of Premiere radio, Clear Channel was more intent with spreading their own syndicated programming than providing local content.
The greatness of radio�s past came from those small to medium sized markets where programming and talent was given a chance to explore and grow. Rush Limbaugh started his career in radio in his home town of Cape Girardeau, Missouri; Larry Lujack in Caldwell, Idaho; Don Steele in Kennewick, Washington; Robert W. Morgan at Wooster, Ohio; Gary Owens at Mitchell, South Dakota and Rick Dees at Greensboro, North Carolina.
Radio in most recent days grab many with little or no radio experience and throw them on the air. Minus the knowledge that comes from experience, radio today reeks with mistakes that not only chase listeners away but give heart burn to many of radio's veteran contributors.
If radio is to continue as an important industry, it must return to giving a stage for talent to hatch. This has not been allowed during the monopolization of the media in recent years. Radio and the recording industry both need more leadership from those who truly care about it.
The announced sale of Clear Channel will fatten the fortunes of the Mays family by an estimated billion dollars. With the compassion of bankers, they will have taken far more than they gave to the industry.
We can only hope �local� radio returns to those markets Clear Channel is now shedding.
Meanwhile, while the Clear Channel board has announced the acceptance of a 26.7 billion dollar sale to private equity partners, the deal could still turn sour, as Clear Channel has the right to solicit other offers through the first week of December this year.
One thing seems certain, with Clear Channel getting out of the water, that makes it better for new swimmers.
= = = = =
Rock n' Roll Hall of Shame
Once again despite the backing of almost 10,000 fans, the induction committee of the Rock n� Roll Hall of Fame has overlooked Pat Boone for the year 2007.
Any attempt to rewrite history by judging the validity of early rock n� roll by today�s standards is to deny Pat�s contributions during the gestation of rock�s history. At a time when R&B music was seldom heard on radio, Pat built the bridge that black recording artists would cross over into mass appeal acceptance. His recordings delivered financial success to the writers and publishers of R&B music.
While our campaign will continue at www.BackPat.org to see Pat Boone inducted into the Rock n� Roll Hall of Fame, it is evident their are hundreds of recording artists with little or no recognition for having made major contributions in the world of music. For this reason the time has come for the
Hit Parade Hall of Fame.
While refreshing your memory or learning about those who�s legacy added to the enjoyment of millions, you will soon be invited to vote for and participate in the induction of your favorite recording artist, country, rock or pop into the
Hit Parade Hall of Fame.
Playing Chess on the Radio
Leonard and Phil Chess played a key role in the promotion and acceptance of black music at a time when racism was a fact of life in America. In the 1940�s their �Macomba� night club on the south side of Chicago provided a stage for black performers when few venues were open to them.
The brothers, two Jewish immigrants from Poland, decided to expand the exposure of black artists by recording them, thus Chess Records was formed in the early 50s�, at a time when record companies such as RCA, Decca & Columbia seemed unaware of the music that originated in America�s deep south.
From their office and studio�s on South Michigan Avenue, Chess Records would become a Chicago landmark that would invade American�s Hit Parade with Muddy Waters, Howlin� Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson, John Lee Hooker, the Flamingos, the Moonglows, Bo Diddley, Clarence �Frogman� Henry, Fontella Bass, Billy Stewart, and the sensational Chuck Berry, a pioneer in rock music.
In the mid 50�s Chess gave birth to Argo Records that provided distribution for jazz artist, Ahmad Jamal, Ramsey Lewis, R&B stars the Dells and blues queen Etta James among others.
It was the music of Chess Records that inspired so many artists, including the Rolling Stones.
During an era when radio gave little exposure to black recordings, Leonard Chess would create one of the nation�s premiere black radio stations, WVON (Voice Of Negro) in Chicago.
As a young disc jockey in the late 50�s and early 60�s I recall meeting Phil Chess, who traveled the highways of the nation on the lookout for radio station towers where he would stop, introduce himself to the DJ on duty and opening the truck of his car would hand out 45 rpm�s promoting airplay on stations where black music often as not was seldom heard. It was following one of those visits that I began to give airplay to Etta James, Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry.
It was shortly after that a young Denver University student named Marshall Chess introduced himself to me. The son of Leonard Chess, Marshall will now be providing an insight into the history of recorded music. His father and uncle are no longer with us but the windows of the past will now be opened with Marshall�s first hand knowledge of an era long gone in the recording industry.
The Chess Records Hour will air each Sunday at noon, EST and will be repeated each Tuesday at 5pm on Sirius channel 74.
Playing Chess on the radio should be a treat.
= = = = =
Westwood One Loves Valentine
Originating in Nashville at WWTN-fm, Phil Valentine�s daily talk show is now in national syndication via Westwood One. His �common sense� comments on the day�s news happenings have made him a favorite not only in Tennessee, but with a national radio audience on the web and during his �fill in� sessions for other�s in syndication.
FCC�s Adelstein Warns
Warning of the threat of additional media consolidation, FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein tells northern California Bay area residents that last months unofficial open forum in Oakland provided �refreshing wisdom on the need to prevent further concentration of media ownership� as opposed to the chanting of big media lobbyists that blanket the nations capitol.
Democrat Adelstein encourages more pressure from the public aimed at their representatives in Washington D.C. The commissioner expects a decision on big companies request for an even greater monopolization of the industry in March of next year.
= = = = =
It was a marathon four hour pounding FCC Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein took from a large crowd of Angelino�s who were frustrated with plans to expand ownership of radio who many said had already abandoned service to the public that was promised when deregulation opened the monopoly floodgates a dozen years ago.
Largely ignored by the FCC is the content being aired on Los Angeles Spanish radio, but it was on the minds of many in the audience, prompting Adelstein to say, �This was a powerful statement of the deep level of concern within the Hispanic community about the state of the media in Los Angeles.
While all five were invited to hear from the public, only the two democrat commissioners attended. Let�s hope they carry the message back to the three republicans who are eager to please radio�s biggies who are lobbying for even a larger slice of the media pie.
= = = = =
Rick Dee�s to
Probably one of the smartest moves for Emmis to make, landing Rick Dee�s for their new �Movin 93.9� in LA.
A real giant of Angelino radio, Rick Dee�s is head and shoulders above most of the morning talent in Los Angeles.
I�ll predict a sizable chuck of Rick-a-holics will be locking their radio to 93.9 starting with his debut in the days ahead.
The move to pop music by LA�s only country music FM, will now require fans to "move" to an HD2 channel or hear their favorite music streaming from the KZLA website. Meanwhile, the Country Music Association has pledged full support to any LA radio facility that picks up the country music franchise. I shouldn't take long for some station to replace KZLA.
= = = = =
A study from The Future of Music Coalition (FMC) found that the vast majority of major U.S. cities has experienced both layoffs and lower wage growth within the radio profession, associated with the unprecedented consolidation of radio station ownership over the last decade. The study also shows that the job losses in radio impede federal policy mandates to promote localism and diversity in media.
�Consolidation in radio ownership hasn�t just homogenized music formats,� said Jenny Toomey, musician and executive director of the Future of Music Coalition, �it has devastated the broadcast profession and virtually eliminated the ability of radio stations to provide unique coverage of local news, music and community issues. Before the FCC moves forward to further loosen already weak ownership limits, it should understand the impact that deregulation has had on jobs and communities.�
Read it here