Changes At Talk Radio Network: ARNN Closes, Other Programming Continues
September 9, 2013 at 1:35 PM (PT)
The situation at syndicator TALK RADIO NETWORK became unclear over the weekend, as reports from people saying they were employees of the company claimed that the company had fired several people and raised questions about the company's future.
One employee, MARY DONOVAN, issued a press release saying that the company had "suspended operations," with the staff of AMERICA'S MORNING NEWS told not to report to work.
While sources have indicated to ALL ACCESS that, variously, a large number of support personnel were let go and that no final determinations have been yet made, CEO MARK MASTERS told ALL ACCESS that the reports that programming will cease are not true.
On MONDAY, MASTERS issued a long statement that confirmed cutbacks in TRN's operations.
After starting by reiterating allegations that the DIAL GLOBAL/WESTWOODONE-CUMULUS merger "will have a devastating effect on most every area of the radio industry" and its charges in its lawsuit against DIAL GLOBAL that the rival syndicator is guilty of "improper, illegal, and/or unethical conduct," MASTERS wrote that the result is "forcing the TRN companies to cut back to the basic operating essentials pending resolution of the multiple issues raised in their legal actions against DIAL GLOBAL/WESTWOOD ONE. We had hoped that the change in management at DIAL GLOBAL/WESTWOOD ONE would bring about a new paradigm focused on correcting the prior harms in a manner which would be helpful to our companies and the industry as a whole. Sadly, recent events have shown that the opposite is true and that the behaviors that gave rise to the lawsuits against DIAL/WESTWOOD ONE are endemic throughout the DIAL/WESTWOOD ONE monopoly. The ruthless and unethical behaviors that have continued through multiple executive teams at DIAL/WESTWOOD are breathtaking in their scope and arrogance."
After urging other radio operators to register their opposition with the FTC and DEPT. OF JUSTICE Antitrust Division to the merger and vowing to pursue TRN's legai case, MASTERS wrote that DIAL GLOBAL/WESTWOODONE had "succeeded on an interim basis" to force suspension of operations of AMERICA'S RADIO NEWS NETWORK as of FRIDAY, "pending the successful outcome of its actions against DIAL GLOBAL/WESTWOOD. ARNN has arranged for appropriate feeds to be provided to its affiliates for a reasonable period of time to enable them to secure alternate programming."
But MASTERS, while repeating the allegations from TRN's lawsuit that "DIAL GLOBAL/WESTWOOD ONE has been collecting our advertising revenues, but refusing to pay them over to us or to account for them," he asserted that "the current rumors of an alleged shutdown of broadcasting operations for non-ARNN programming are unfounded. Broadcasts of the other programs are continuing without interruption."
MASTERS closed with a repeat of a call to action for broadcasters, saying, "If DIAL/WESTWOOD can do this to us, they certainly can do this to you – so you need to join together, and with us, in opposing this dangerous merger, with as much force as you can muster, so that you can have a future that is not controlled by a monopoly."
ALL ACCESS has reached out to MASTERS to follow up for additional information about the number of employees laid off and services to be discontinued.
Meanwhile, RUSTY HUMPHRIES was pulled off the air in mid-sentence at the beginning of his show today when he began to talk about the situation. HUMPHRIES posted on FACEBOOK, "I was pulled off the air mid-sentence TRYING to explain and defend the position of my syndicator. There was no bad intent nor would I have said anything negative on the air, that's not who I am but I believe an explanation is necessary. Unfortunately there are people who have never been on the air who have zero business nor common sense who are running the technical controls. I apologize to my affiliate stations and listeners ... I was there, prepared to do a good show. I was planning on giving you an explanation of a very difficult time in Talk Radio and then move on to the show. That seems to have not been an option even though I was not told ANYTHING!"