Clear Channel Radio, the General Motors of the radio station business, axed more employees today. As Jerry Del Colliano, the Jeremiah of radio, pointed out this week, CC is beating the drum for what they say is their “local” campaign, while chopping local station staffs and increasing the delivery of networked radio shows from out of town. Radio was constructed to be a hometown electronic medium. Radio station people have been running as hard as they can from that model for decades — it isn’t all the fault of CC and the other consolidators — standardizing programming through imitation. Radio people love to talk about being local, but they really always preferred to simplify the lives of their sales departments. Ratings technology required standardization. One piece of news caught my eye today — the CEO of a medium-sized station owner, New Northwest Broadcasters, announced he was leaving his job today, taking the company’s Billings, Montana, stations with him. This could be a signal that the company has a plan to sell off all their stations. They named their CFO — that’s the company numbers freak — to lead the company. You don’t put the head accountant in charge if you’re planning to run your stations creatively. I take this as a hopeful sign, that the radio speculators are getting ready to cut their losses and liquidate. Can’t happen fast enough for me. Maybe there’s a new generation of people who actually love radio who’ll see the opportunity and step up. There’s time to do it; listeners still love and listen to radio, even though the corporate stockbrokers have debased and demoralized the business by treating it like a burger chain rather than a powerful local medium. But now I’m just ranting. Later.
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