It's Official: Tribune CEO Randy Michaels Resigns
Nils Larsen Named Chairman; Executive Council To Oversee Operations
October 22, 2010 at 2:32 PM (PT)
It's official: As expected, TRIBUNE CO. CEO RANDY MICHAELS resigned TODAY, ending a tumultuous three-year reign atop the 163-year-old media company. MICHAELS will be replaced by a four-member Executive Council, which will oversee the company as it deals with bankruptcy court.
The CHICAGO TRIBUNE reports that MICHAEL'S departure was precipitated by the clash between his "raucous, unconventional style [that] was intended to foster creativity at a company desperate for new ideas," and the perception by the board and TRIBUNE editors that the "tactics were more irresponsible than effective. His behavior, they concluded, not only publicly embarrassed the company but exposed the board to potentially damaging charges that directors were standing by while management ran amok."
"Some of what he was doing was necessary (to shake up a stale corporate culture)," one board member tole the TRIBUNE on condition of anonymity. "But he was way too heavy handed."
The new Executive Council is comprised of LOS ANGELES TIMES Publisher/CEO EDY HARTENSTEIN, CHICAGO TRIBUNE Publisher/CEO TONY HUNTER, Chief Restructuring Officer DON LIEBENTRITT, and Chief Investment Officer NILS LARSEN, who has also been named Chairman of TRIBUNE BROADCASTING. TRIBUNE BROADCASTING President JERRY KERSTING remains on board overseeing Talk WGN-A, the company's 23 TV stations, and cable network WGN AMERICA. COO GERRY SPECTOR also remains with the company, reporting directly to the Council.
"These appointments are designed to ensure a smooth, seamless transition of management responsibilities to a group of experienced executives who have a strong understanding of the company's media businesses," said Chairman SAM ZELL. "The Council will provide the company with stability and continuity as it enters what is traditionally the busiest time of the year for its business units and their advertising partners. TRIBUNE has strong brands, valuable assets and innovative, dedicated employees. Its media businesses have generated solid financial performance through the first three quarters of 2010-- the company is building on that momentum."
And What Of Randy Michaels' Recruits?
While MICHAELS and Chief Innovation Officer LEE ABRAMS have gone, several other RANDY MICHAELS recruits remain with the company. Their future with the company was not mentioned in the announcement or the TRIBUNE story. TRIBUNE INTERACTIVE Pres. MARC CHASE told the paper that he "now reports to [TONY] HUNTER and that 'I have no plans to leave.'"
In what now seems like an appropriate illustration of the RANDY MICHAELS era at the TRIBUNE, the newspaper also reported that "on WEDNESDAY, the day after news broke that MICHAELS planned to resign, a fake Halloween tombstone emblazoned with R.I.P. appeared in his office on the sixth floor of Tribune Tower. While many believed some wag had put it there as a final salute, sources said the gesture had come from MICHAELS, who put it there himself."