Randy Michaels Talks About Tribune Tenure, Comeback Prospects
November 1, 2010 at 4:08 AM (PT)
Former TRIBUNE CO. CEO RANDY MICHAELS gave an interview last week to the WALL STREET JOURNAL, discussing his departure from the company and defending his tenure there.
In the interview, MICHAELS claimed that his departure from the company was triggered by LEE ABRAMS' "careless" and "indefensible" memo including a video from THE ONION. MICHAELS told the JOURNAL's RUSSELL ADAMS, "I do not know how long it takes synaptic connections to establish. But however long that is, I knew it (the memo) was a problem."
MICHAELS, the former JACOR and CLEAR CHANNEL executive who took over TRIBUNE in 2007 after its ill-fated buyout by SAM ZELL, defended his tenure at TRIBUNE by pointing out that operating cash flow had risen 36% in the third quarter, outperforming other newspaper companies, and that all of the papers in the company's portfolio are profitable. He also defended the company's culture under his supervision, subject of a critical front-page article by the NEW YORK TIMES' DAVID CARR that was widely seen as a precursor to his departure, as "inclusive, tolerant, fun, creative and sometimes irreverent, but with a purpose."
His chief regret, MICHAELS said, was moving too quickly to change the operation in a change-averse culture, and said the board pushed him out to limit liability. "It's very difficult at the end of the day to replace management that is getting the job done ... They had nothing but liability ... The fact is I decided to resign because I thought this had become an issue that was distracting, that my ability to continue to lead the company was in serious question." However, ADAMS quotes an anonymous source as saying creditors were looking to replace MICHAELS even before the TIMES controversy and ABRAMS memo, saying, "It's preposterous to think the current management team could stay."
As for the future, MICHAELS said, "I may go buy some media, I may go run some media, I don't know. My phone's been ringing. There are a lot of people who look past noise and emotions and look at results ... I'll probably take a couple days, go to EUROPE, come back and make some decisions."
Read the interview (subscription required) by clicking here.