Wednesday, July 19, 2006


You probably missed the latest radio news. Not news ON the radio, news OF radio. Just as well. It was more staff cutting - this time the blood bath at CBS stations. As you may know, my history includes 30 years plus in that biz, which has changed to a shadow of its former self. Someone sent me the item below. I think it's worth putting up for those who may care. The author, if it is the one well known, was highly placed in several companies along his career path, and was a good guy, highly talented.


by Steve Rivers
July 13, 2006


The other night I was walking through downtown Burbank and saw a homeless
guy sleeping on one of the benches. As I normally do, I stopped and offered
some money, which he gratefully accepted. I asked if I could sit and ask a
few questions. The guy said, "sure," and we struck up a conversation.

I asked him what his story was and how he ended up here. He told me he was
a Vet, a former Marine and he has struggled on the streets for many years.
He's tried panhandling, a task he finds demeaning and how he has to compete
with other day workers just to survive. He's tried temp-work until that
dried up. I asked him why he didn't just stay in the Marines. He said they
didn't want him. At the time he was in Corps, there was no major combat
going on, since it '75 and we hadn't seen the likes of Desert Storm yet. As
always, the truth is always somewhere in between. Who knows, maybe he was
discharged on a Section Eight., but I don't think so. He was lucid and

With over one million veterans homeless and on the streets you would think
America could come up with something positive for these brave men and women
who served their country. Think about it - one MILLION vets out there on
the streets, discarded like trash. Yesterday's news. That's certainly no
way to show respect.

It got me thinking about our business. Aren't we guilty of the same thing?

Because of companies gobbling each other up in a shark feeding frenzy, good
talented people have been displaced, forced to take some other line of work
and to leave the business they love, spent their whole life in. Sure, there
are some who probably deserved to be let go, but when I read about the cuts
going on in one of the radio stations where I used to program I had to shake
my head. Some of these people had been at that radio station for 10, 12,
even 20 years. It's that kind of stability that made that radio station
GREAT. Their knowledge of the market was an intangible that money couldn't
buy. When will this industry wake up?

Bean Counters

The bean counters are running the place and they make their decisions in
some cushy offices somewhere in Austin, New York, Atlanta or wherever
without giving any thought to the lives they are affecting. To them, the
cuts are not personal - just business. Bullshit. It is personal, and for
what? A few pennies here and there. What corporate radio doesn't
understand is that without special, creative people to man their stations
all they have is a shell of a radio station. If you don't believe that,
just scan the dial. There is nothing magical happening.

Growing companies larger has been good for the owners, but that's about it.
We've created some piss-poor version of a cookie cutter assembly line.
We're certainly not creating great radio. And HD Radio - what a joke. A
band-aid on a car crash victim.

I have to laugh today when I hear some of the same verbiage I used in
liners, sweepers and IDs over 20 years ago. The same formatics heard today
on many stations have not been updated for years. I don't get it.

The promos heard on these stations make me cringe, and I don't think the
fault lies at the station level. We're cutting staff and doubling or
tripling their workload. Programmers are asked to "oversee" two, three or
four stations. There is no way you can give any of those the proper
attention, so they go on autopilot. And they sound like it.

I gotta give Jeff Smulyan credit to have the balls to do what I thought
would never see happen - take his company private so he can better control
his destiny. I've always admired Emmis. They're great broadcasters and
truly care about their people, and they create great radio.

So, Mr. Corporate Radio, instead of worrying about listeners using I-Pods,
downloading music or switching to satellite radio, why don't you do
something about it? Give your stations back to the people who can create
magic. Radio is not dead - but we have placed it on life support.

Radio stations can be magical places if given the dedication and time to
nurture them so they can become part of the community they serve.

To that homeless Marine I found in Burbank this weekend, if no else gives
you the respect you deserve ... know I do. Semper Fi!

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