Chicago Tribune Features Story On The Reign Of Randy Michaels
January 16, 2013 at 5:56 AM (PT)
Current MERLIN MEDIA CEO RANDY MICHAELS is largely skewered in a multi-part article in THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE. MICHAELS was brought in by SAM ZELL to run THE TRIBUNE COMPANY, and many at the newspaper immediately had problems with the radio executive's management style and plans for the paper.
THE TRIBUNE writes, "MICHAELS said he saw things differently. If the radio industry had taught him anything, it was that market power flowed from size and scale. The more he studied the company, the more he believed the newspapers and TV stations should be closely tied rather than urged to do their own thing. Centralizing operations would cut costs and allow the company to take advantage of its national scale when selling ads and buying TV programming. He viewed newspapers as tired, and he said he thought he could reinvent them for a new audience. In a memo he wrote to ZELL charting his first 100 days, MICHAELS argued for radical change in the content and design of the company's newspapers to make them more appealing."
Change never comes easy, and MICHAELS encountered a lot of resistance. "MICHAELS, though, said he found it difficult to stop pushing as long as employees resisted change that he believed was key to the company's success," writes THE TRIBUNE. "He said he recognized that he might have pushed too far at times but equated letting up with settling. 'I didn't want to dial it back,' he said. 'I'm not wired that way'."
The end for MICHAELS at TRIBUNE was played out in the papers. "In early OCTOBER 2010 came a bombshell: a front-page story in THE NEW YORK TIMES alleging that MicHaels had created a hostile workplace through sexist comments, 'frat house' antics and other inappropriate behavior," notes THE TRIBUNE. "Days later, LEE ABRAMS, whom MICHAELS hired from satellite radio to be chief innovation officer at TRIBUNE CO., sent an e-mail to employees containing a link to a joke video with nudity and profanity. CHICAGO TRIBUNE employees responded by signing a letter of protest, and the paper wrote a story about the controversy. ABRAMS resigned. A week later, as the CHICAGO TRIBUNE prepared to publish a story on MICHAELS' role in creating an inappropriate work environment, he decided to resign. MICHAELS has continually denied allegations of misconduct."
Read the full report here.