Randy Michaels In At Tribune ... And The Fireworks Begin
December 20, 2007 at 2:23 PM (PT)
As reported here yesterday (NET NEWS 12/19), RANDY MICHAELS has officially been hired to a high-level executive post at the TRIBUNE CO. New Chairman/CEO SAM ZELL named MICHAELS EVP and CEO/Interactive & Broadcasting. Also appointed to a senior post is GERALD SPECTOR, who'll be EVP/Chief Administrative Officer.
New faces at TRIBUNE's Board of Directors will be ICM talent agency Chairman/CEO JEFFREY BERG, GREENSPUN CORP. Chairman/CEO BRIAN GREENSPUN, EQUITY INVESTMENTS LLC Chief Investment Officer WILLIAM PATE, CITIZENS COMMUNICATIONS Chairman/CEO MAGGIE WILDEROTTER and SECRET COMMUNICATIONS CEO FRANK WOOD.
The sooner he gets back to running radio stations -- the better off the industry will be
But make no mistake about it: MICHAELS' return to a powerful position in radio, should TRIBUNE get build a larger radio presence, creates the biggest waves. You'd be hard-pressed to find a bigger lightning rod -- and the immediate response to his appointment has been heated and divided.
Not at all thrilled with this turn of events is THE CHICAGO SUN-TIMES' ROBERT FEDER, who brought up one of MICHAEL's less successful antics. "The last time RANDY MICHAELS got his hands on a CHICAGO radio station, the results were nothing less than disastrous," he wrote. "In 1991, CAPITAL CITIES/ABC hired MICHAELS to save its dying Top 40 station in CHICAGO -- WYTZ-FM ... MICHAELS began by airing a series of announcements in Spanish that denigrated CBS-owned Top 40 competitor WBBM-FM (96.3) and insulted PD DAVE SHAKES by name.
"This was followed by one of the most offensive and ill-conceived radio stunts in history," FEDER continued. "MICHAELS renamed the station 'Hell.' ... Without warning, the mostly teen audience woke up one day to hear taped promos between songs that included such lines as 'Go to Hell,' 'Oh, Hell' and 'You've Gone to Hell.'
"An ongoing contest on WYTZ offered prizes to listeners who could repeat the phrase 'B96 sucks' as many times as possible in less than 10 seconds ... Not content to attack only his competitors at B96, MICHAELS then aired announcements that targeted such icons as OPRAH WINFREY, JONATHON BRANDMEIER, STEVE DAHL and TERRI HEMMERT.
But it was the indiscriminate use of the word "Hell" that infuriated people the most. CAPITAL CITIES/ABC bosses were flooded with protests from parents ... After one week, it was all over. Acknowledging that the stunt was a bust, the NEW YORK-based bosses aborted MICHAELS' plan long before it was supposed to run its course.
Read the entire story here.
An Unlikely Supporter
A far warmer reception comes from, of all people, JERRY DEL COLLIANO, who when he was heading up INSIDE RADIO, was engaged in a double-fisted verbal battle with MICHAELS, back when he headed up CLEAR CHANNEL. Apparently, that was then, this is now:
"RANDY MICHAELS is just what the broadcast industry needs right now," he wrote on his blog. "The sooner he gets back to running radio stations -- the better off the industry will be. He's tremendously competent. The MAYS could never have put their current cluster platform together without him. He's a combination engineer, geek, programming gorilla and soothsayer.
"What a great time to make a return. The radio industry is adrift. One group after the other succumbing to cost-cutting in the hopes of pleasing their investors but instead they have only disappointed their listeners and advertisers. And, they've lost the next generation. Even they know that now.
" I think SAM ZELL isn't just going to build a TV group and God knows the newspaper business is in worse shape than radio... ZELL buys undervalued properties. Can you say radio stations? ... It's ripe for the taking. ... If ZELL and MICHAELS assemble a new platform they will kick the asses of operators looking to take shortcuts. You know, the ones firing sales people right now at a time when they are needed the most.
"I know as well as anyone that sometimes you have to wait to be appreciated. As a former PD let me say this: if I knew RANDY MICHAELS might be coming to a station near mine, I sure wouldn't wait to step it up. It will be too late.
"Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines."
Read his entire spiel here.