“”Heave Ho-Ho-Ho”


It didn’t matter if they’d been naughty or nice.

Last Thursday (12/6/12) yet another several hundred radio employees across the nation were unceremoniously heaved out the door in time for Christmas by Clear Channel Communications, including many who had been at their respective stations for many decades. For any practical purpose, most are discovering they have no place to go. Traditional business models in the broadcast industry have been savaged by unrestrained self-interest. Make no mistake. These are not “layoffs”. They are career executions — loyal service and consistent performance reflecting a job retention value of ice cold zero.

Why not ignore former pledges to serve a community by fulfilling FCC license obligations on airways owned by the people with dozens of employees covering important assignments in news and public affairs programming when you can get away with effectively not offering anything to anyone? After all, isn’t that what makes a market free? Reducing statutory obligations to a desirable state of functional impotency until they mean absolutely nothing?

An accompanying Clear Channel Corporate Press Release patronizingly states: “Like every successful business, our strategy continues to evolve as we move forward as a company; this creates new jobs and unfortunately eliminates others. These are never easy decisions to make.”

What nonsense. Clear Channel has become alarmingly facile in reaching such determinations, particularly since Bain Capital got involved four years ago. Last week’s gallows drops brought the total body count to over eleven thousand dismissals in the wake of industry consolidation driven by governmental deregulation and the escalation of leveraged borrowing. As far as being a “successful business” is concerned, even as many banks are celebrating the end of a banner year boasting record profits and payoffs, Clear Channel is now over eleven billion dollars in debt with major balloon payments due just around the corner.

This is a pernicious pattern we see elsewhere, most notably in recent days with the much discussed and disgusting Hostess Brand debacle in which 18,500 employees are paying the price for decades of miserable mismanagement — malfeasance continuing with the absurd allegation that demise of the “Ding Dong” represents an unavoidable consequence of American unionism.

Ultimately “Twinkies”, “Ding Dongs” and “Wonder Bread” will rise again as these valuable franchise names are sold to new owners, but with a work force severely crippled in consequential compensation. Meanwhile, former bosses have personally made millions of dollars wheeling and dealing their way out of self imposed crisis after crisis, funded by fast times, hot action and easy money. You can bank on that.

Wild gambits have been paying off far too often for wily gamblers at the escalating expense of all not financially fixed in a wretchedly rigged game.

That’s why I’m so happy Massachusetts Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren (D) is said to have been chosen for a leading role on the new Senate Banking Committee in our 113th Congress about to convene in January.

Harvard Law Professor Warren handily defeated incumbent Republican Scott Brown in November to become the first woman senator in Massachusetts state history and now inherits the seat held for 47 years by the late Edward Kennedy.

Senator Warren’s position on the Banking Committee will come nearly two years after oppositional forces successfully campaigned against her from running the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau she both envisioned and created.

Now she’s back to address desperately needed changes, including the introduction of appropriate remedial legislation and reinstitution of the Glass-Steagull Act — abandonment of which in 1999 lead directly to subsequent economic nightmares in 2007.

Here’s hoping 2013 will witness Senator Warren decisively delivering a retributive “Ho-Ho-Ho!” against all those banks that feed wild corporate greed. Wall Street has regarded Elizabeth Warren as an enemy ever since 2008 when she served as chief watchdog in overseeing the seven hundred billion dollar bailout, taking both the institutions involved AND the Federal government to task time and time again for ineptitude and incompetence.

It’s taken her five years to reach a position of prime power.

The last laugh is the longest.

2 Responses to ““”Heave Ho-Ho-Ho””

  1. Charles Walker Says:

    Peter C, I sincerely plead ignorance here. I know nothing about the current state of radio. Frankly, unlike days past when I snuck my little Motorola under the covers to listen to “Let’s Pretend” or “Gunsmoke” and rushed home after school [2nd grade?] to listen to “Big Jon and Sparky”, or the late 50s, 60s and early 70s when the AM band was all there was and I tuned you or Dandy Dan in as I drove my ’54 Buick Special up the hill to LeMoyne [“Oh, boy! We’re sliding on the ice! Hold my beer and watch this!”], the only time I listen to radio today is when the battery on my MP3 player dies.

    While I have no doubt that the lords of Clear Channel are the despicable poltroons you describe, it would seem that the decline of the pictureless television has as much to do with the tastes of the public and the state of technology as it does with the capitalists at Bain. Doesn’t “progress” usually bring economies of scale? Don’t advances in technology effect broadcasting just as it did the buggy whip industry 115 years ago? I can remember you and my dear departed friend Greg “Bear” Paul running the 5000 watt stations in Syracuse with analog equipment fired with vacuum tubes and big honking dials. That era would seem to be gone the way of carburetors and Victrola needles.

    I too lament the death of Glass–Steagall at the hands of “Blowjob Billy” and his merry band of tricksters including Bobbie Rubin. It hurt the insurance industry as bad or worse than many. In my former life I testified in front of the House Banking Committee against repeal as a representative of the insurance industry. However, I’m not sure the decline of radio can be solely blamed on the repeal of the law. I’m guessing the overcrowding of the market along with the loss of advertising revenue plays a big part as well.

    I sure hope it won’t affect my pals, “The Love Doctors” here in Vero Beach.


  2. Bill Hennes Says:

    Peter, you are the most intellectual radio broadcaster in America. You are way too bright for the room. You are correct on each and every point. I am glad to call you friend.

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