Some say Clear Channel (CC) is the Evil Empire of radio. One of its many nicknames is Cheap Channel, which is certainly a well-earned nickname, given how many people it has fired in the last few years. CC likes to call mass fires a "Reduction in Force (RIF)." Let's call it what it really is, letting talented people go for no reason other than to make more money and boost their bottom line.
A new player has entered the game of cheapness, Connoisseur Media. I've heard from numerous people that they rival Clear Channel in cheapness and its stations are even worse places to work.
Let's talk about the utter destruction of WBZO/B103 FM, here on Long Island. Connoisseur Media left the station alone for roughly a year after buying it, but then destroyed the station in one swoop.
Connoisseur fired twenty-year veteran afternoon host and Assistant Programme Director (APD), Keith Allen as well as newsperson and morning cohost, Frank Brinka. Connoisseur moved Programme Director (PD) and morning co-host, Bill Wise, to afternoons, where he is voice tracking, that is, pre-recording, his show. Lastly, Connoisseur moved mid-day host and voice talent, Jim O'Brien, to mornings.
To add insult to injury, Connoisseur imported Jen Wylde, from Florida, to voice track mid-days. Ms. Wylde quit after one week that shift runs on automation, now. I guess she wasn't getting enough money to work an hour a day, from home, to make it worth her while.
Connoisseur recently bought WALK-AM-FM in a very convoluted deal involving Quantum Communications and Clear Channel. How long is it going to be before they tinker with those stations? I can see them simulcasting WHLI-AM on the AM side and, possibly, simulcasting WKJY-FM on the FM side. No matter what, cutbacks will happen.
Willie Nelson tells momma's not to let their kids grow up to be cowboys. I say don't them grow up to be disc jockeys. There is no such thing anymore. Records are long gone from studios, as is the thrill of a cool segues. Do you remember trying to act like an octopus, doing three or four things at once, today that’s call multi-tasking, with only two hands? I miss those days.
Between deregulation, computer automation and Wall Street, what we knew as radio forty years ago is long gone. There is no more training ground for new talent, since stations automate on weekends and overnights or air syndicated programming. The small town AM stations, where we all got our starts at are long gone, either bought up so their signal wouldn't interfere with a larger station on the same frequency or it's all syndicated talk dreck.
As radio has gotten more corporate, it has become more cookie cutter and programming homogenized. It's hard to tell one Clear Channel station from another one without the station IDs. How many stations can they call Mix, Hot, Mega, Now, Amp and other silly nicknames?
Cumulus Media rolled out their Nash brand a year ago, with its flagship station here in New York. There are only two live shifts left on the station, Kelly Ford, from 10 am to 3 pm, and Jessy Addy, from 3 pm to 7pm. Mornings are hosted by Blair Garner, Terry Clark and Chuck Wicks. The night shifts belong to Shawn Parr and Elena Smith, broadcast live from Nashville, the home of country music.
When Cumulus converted many of their stations to the Nash brand, air talent was let go, mostly live and local morning shows. These layoffs went largely unreported; the silence deafened. I wonder where those people went.
No matter how much we cry, moan and lament about the "good old days" of radio, they are long gone and not coming back. Innovative radio programmers, such as Rick Sklar, Larry Berger, Bill Drake, Paul Drew, Les Garland and Ruth Meyer are retired or passed away; only John Rook remains, chronicling the halicon days of radio on Facebook. What irony is that?
Would they or could they achieve the same success today as they did in their heydays of the 1960s and 1970. The corporate handcuffs are so tight, these creative men and women wouldn't be able to do anything new or imaginative.
Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.
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