This is the diary that I've dreaded writing all week. I've thought about dour titles; I considered and rejected variations of "the day the music died". If you're on the walking papers end of a layoff, it is a dire situation indeed. And CEO's rarely lay themselves off, so the bad personnel decisions they make almost invariably hurt the most vulnerable, the most dedicated, the ones most dependent upon paychecks. And seniority matters not at all across the hierarchical divide; CEO's of six months tenure regularly lay off workers who have been on the job for decades. I was laid off after 33 years on the job. Yes, I hate layoffs.
Another big black eye for radio
This is the aftermath of the call to a hospital impersonating the queen to obtain personal health information. Who would have thought a prank by Australian shock jocks could top Rush Limbaugh's three day Sandra Fluke rant for "global revulsion"?
Here's the Rush news
Hat tip to el dorado gal; Rush (on KMOX) is now playing second fiddle in St. Louis. The once number one talker across the country has fallen behind The Dana Show starring Dana Loesch on KFTK. This follows Rush falling to number 2 in streaming audio metrics for iGadget listeners, behind Michael Savage.
Flush Rush and Stop Rush activism is not focused on listeners, it is focused on advertisers. Thus, Limbaugh fully owns any decrease in his listening audience, and it is nice to see that by that measure, he is losing all on his own.
Clear Channel's devastating layoffs, after the jump
The day the music -- was denied?
In case you hadn't noticed, Clear Channel is killing rock and roll in favor of the top 40. (It is also killing jazz, bluegrass, local content creation and progressive talk, mostly for generic sports talk and moribund, increasingly ancient conservative talk...)
With just slight modifications, the following articles could have been written for most any city in the U.S.
In August, Clear Channel flipped Active Rock WKLS (Project 9-6-1)/Atlanta to contemporary hit radio (CHR), rebranding the station as "Power 96.1."
Katie Diem, a third year psychology major, sat down to study, having no idea that she was about to assume the role of a renegade.Another activist born out of Clear Channel's one-size-fits-all, cram this hit music down your throat mega-corporate mentality.
Diem took a break from the books to turn on WKLS’s Project 9-6-1.
The station, known for its hard rock and alternative format, was playing “Freebird,” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Diem was confused, especially when the DJ announced they were going off the air after that night’s broadcast.
After frantically searching for answers, Diem discovered that Clear Channel had sold the station to Ryan Seacrest. Project 9-6-1 was to become “Power,” a Top 40 pop music channel.
"They just got me on the wrong night," Diem said.
[Then] she stumbled across a Facebook page that had already been erected in protest of the station’s demise, calling itself "Save Project 9-6-1"...
"'There’s really no true rock ‘n’ roll stations out there anymore,' said Anthony Brown, an employee of Mixx 104.5 in Dalton, Ga."
So it seems.
My Thoughts and How to Fight It!
An article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution describes just how bad it can become:
This is Bieber’s first chart topper in Atlanta, with the credit going primarily to two Clear Channel stations: the new Power 96.1 played it a whopping 141 times while its sister station Wild 105.7 added another 125. Q100 spun it 23 times.Radio analyst Jerry Del Colliano refers to this as "whoring out of radio stations." He explains, "Bieber is also the top attraction at Q102, Philadelphia’s Jingle Bell Ball which means the stations owe him airplay without disclosing the link between airplay and the personal appearances. These appearances are not done for direct cash just promotional consideration and at no point does any Clear Channel station disclose what that consideration is."
I can’t say this is necessarily a coincidence, but Bieber is headlining the first Power 96.1 Jingle Ball in Atlanta at Philips Arena Dec. 12.
We may turn to Wikipedia for a possible explanation:
Payola, in the American music industry, is the illegal practice of payment or other inducement by record companies for the broadcast of recordings on music radio in which the song is presented as being part of the normal day's broadcast. Under U.S. law, 47 U.S.C. § 317, a radio station can play a specific song in exchange for money, but this must be disclosed on the air as being sponsored airtime, and that play of the song should not be counted as a "regular airplay".In this era of Citizens United style decisions at the U.S. Supreme Court, it appears that Clear Channel isn't too concerned about flouting the spirit of the law, if not the law itself. Maybe this isn't flat out illegal. But it stinks, and when corporations seem able to do no wrong, no one is investigating.
Such circumstances result in various activist efforts, such as this Facebook contribution:
National "Demand Radio Diversity" DayTip to callers: the mega-corporations are firing station-based program directors, and are centralizing that functionality, either in each radio station cluster, or even nationally. The trend is decidedly against diversity, against locally generated content, and toward all radio stations throughout the country sounding exactly the same.
On Wednesday, December 5, 2012, call or email the program director of your favorite radio stations and demand they play more local and independent music.
Even the auto industry is sounding a warning note about radio industry homogenization:
Ford executive, asked “Will AM/FM radio always be available in-car?”
He was interviewed by Jacobs Media for the Arbitron Client Conference session “What The Connected Car Means For Radio,” co-presented by Fred Jacobs and Valerie Shuman, VP of The Connected Vehicle Trade Association.
Yes there is such a group, evidence not that the-future-is-now, but rather that the in-car media future arrived last decade, with Ford’s trailblazing Sync, and GM’s On-Star, and other Jetsons-like new-tech now increasingly commonplace.
“Local content” will ensure radio’s place in the mid-dashboard array now being called “the stack,” in the opinion of that Ford exec. His words would’ve comforted the several hundred radio folks attending, had news not been breaking that Clear Channel firings were underway nationwide.
Layoffs, more layoffs, and even more layoffs (oh my!)
There are accounts of Clear Channel layoffs coming in from all over the country.
Another Round Of Layoffs At Clear Channel
ALL ACCESS has learned that CLEAR CHANNEL is going through another round of layoffs today. The reductions in force appear to be covering several of the company's clusters.
The All Access article triggered scores of comments, including:
"Hey Pittman is this how you're making radio "cool" again? F***ing loser."
"Hope you die a painful death CC. You have destroyed good radio throughout the years and will suffer the consequences for it."
"I was let go from KYLD(WiLD 94-9) in San Francisco over four years ago after a fourteen year stint and have been looking for work ever since."
A few news snippets:
"A Clear Channel market manager told the Detroit Free Press that the company is taking advantage of new technology and continuing to update its operations. It creates jobs, and it eliminates jobs... The radio group has developed a reputation for pruning its workforce at the end of the year. A quick glance at RBR-TVBR archives demonstrated that the company engages in workforce reductions at other times of the year as well."
"Getting fired from your job is never fun; having it happen three weeks from Christmas can only make it worse... there are also those who remain on the job and are tasked with carrying out the unenviable assignment of carrying out the company order. Not only do they have to deal with taking away the livelihood of their co-workers and lose friends, the question they will always ask themselves is Am I really safe?
"One programmer we reached out to Thursday morning was about to go into a meeting where he had to let 10 people go. Ten seemed to be the number we heard a lot on Thursday. Many markets we heard from Thursday had lost about 10 people.
"There's no real way to know exactly how many people were fired yesterday, it's not something a company puts on a press release. It's safe to say the carnage was in the hundreds. And, it didn't matter if you were a weekend jock or a 20-year veteran. This round focused a lot on the bigger markets like Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Columbus, Detroit and Denver, just to name a few.
"More layoffs are expected today and we've been told, but have no way to confirm, today will focus more on management cuts."
The layoffs impacted old timers (nearly 40 years with the company!), and sports figures, and minority voices, and local managers, and programmers (which will translate into even less local input into content choices).
A familiar tactic: use front line managers to lay off the workforce, and then lay off front line managers. Why do we still play this game?
The reference to Minot is an important one:
Clear Channel still haunted by Minot toxic spill disasterClear Channel wants robo-stations -- robot stations with NO personnel. Technology is allowing them to move closer to that goal, as each round of layoffs proves.
On the night of January 18, 2002, 911 operators serving Ward County, North Dakota began receiving panicked phone calls from the residents of Minot, the state's fourth largest city. "I don't know what it is but there was a huge, huge crash," one caller explained. "There's smoke everywhere outside."
"You need to stay calm until we can figure out what, what's going on," an operator told a resident. "You need to stay in your house."
But it was already too late for that.
"Female: My daughter ran out the front door.
Operator: She ran out? How old is your daughter?
Female: She's twelve . . . Is she going to die out there?
Male: I don't know.
Female: You guys have to hurry please."
What neither emergency dispatch or Minot's residents knew yet was that a railway train transporting anhydrous ammonia for fertilizer had just derailed nearby. It exploded and dumped almost 250,000 gallons of the compound near one of the town's residential neighborhoods. With electricity down, residents who smelled fumes frantically tuned their battery operated radios to KCJB AM 910, the designated local emergency broadcast station, for news.
But to no avail.
"KCJB, and every other radio station in town, were not reporting any news or information about the anhydrous spill," explains New York University sociologist Eric Klinenberg in his gripping book Fighting for Air: The Battle to Control America's Media. "Instead, all six of Minot's name-brand stations—Z94, 97 Kicks, Mix 99.9, The Fox Classic Rock, 91 Country, and Cars Oldies Radio—continued playing a standard menu of canned music, served up by smooth-talking DJs trading in light banter and off-color jokes while the giant toxic cloud floated into town."
Local also gives way to syndication in Chicago, and even gospel loses out:
Quiet Storm ... is expected to be replaced by The Sweat Hotel, a syndicated show... Effie Rolfe, midday host, assistant program director and music director of gospel [was also laid off]Unable to hide such sweeping dismissals they way they've hidden their continuing stealth layoffs, Clear Channel issued an official statement:
We are constantly looking at all aspects of our business to ensure that it reflects how the best organizations work today, taking advantage of the latest cutting-edge technology and organizational structure so we can continue to operate as effectively and efficiently as possible. Like every successful business, our strategy continues to evolve as we move forward as a company; this creates some new jobs, and unfortunately eliminates others. These are never easy decisions to make. In the process of making these recent changes, some employees were affected. We thank them for their service and wish them all the best for the future."Radio analyst Jerry Del Colliano's response to that statement: "Successful business?"
Since Bain bought Clear Channel, it has eliminated an estimated 11,000 Clear Channel jobs.
If Clear Channel fired Rush Limbaugh, his $400,000,000, eight year contract could pay ten thousand radio industry workers a salary of $40,000. Clear Channel prefers to keep its bigotry and bloviation, while eliminating the jobs of working people.
And I close with a prediction:
The diarist is active in Flush Rush on Facebook:
|Rush Limbaugh's talk radio career is in a slow downward spiral in part because of the activism of consumers, volunteers, and activists who seek to hold Rush accountable for his hate speech. One very active group in this cause is Flush Rush on Facebook. Flush Rush and other, similar groups use the StopRush Database to inform advertisers about where their ads are appearing.
Please consider joining. Small donations are also accepted to fund data storage; visit StopRush for more information.