|05||| 31 |||09|
Sadly, The Demise Of CC Would Change Nothing
Is Clear Channel headed for bankruptcy? Will the company be broken up? Honestly, at this point, I'm not sure if it even matters anymore. Splitting up CC will change nothing because the damage has been done: the business model that commercial radio is based on is broken - possibly beyond repair.
Ten years ago, I was working at a major market leader that only ran eight minutes of spots per hour and we made money hand over fist. Today, I doubt that same station is breaking even despite having sliced payroll more than in half.
Until someone finds a way to turn a reasonable number of spots per hour into profit, nothing will stop the death spiral radio is in. The issue isn't ownership anymore - It's advertisers - and I'm shocked by how few people seem to understand that.
Higher ratings won't wipe out corporate debt.
Higher ratings won't undo fifteen years of greed.
Corporate greed devastated the media business model.
To suggest otherwise is ignorant.
In the old days, you could flip a station, build ratings and sales could go out and sell it. Start with cume, then build TSL, blah blah blah, today's listeners turned into tomorrow's dollars. It was great because it was a fight people like me could win.
Win in the halls: make the staff believe!
Win on the air: make your listeners love it!
...and sales would take care of their end.
It was a winning formula that only failed me when some overdressed dufus from out of town got in the way. Usually it was the boring consultant who thought the night guy wasn't yelling loud enough, or the slogan wasn't long enough. Good lord. But a good PD and GM could still win that battle.
Then came the mega-mergers. Stations were bought or traded so fast it was hard to keep up. These fools thought they were building media empires, but really they were building financial black holes. A station that practically printed money before the mergers suddenly came with a pile of debt that was never going to be paid back. This brought us:
- More spots.
- Fire the overnight jock and track it.
- More spots!
- Even more spots! 16 minutes an hour isn't so bad.
- Sell the promos.
- Sell the contests!
- Fire the part timers and VT their hours.
- Sell the hour of music!
- Undercut competitor's rates.
- Sell the sweepers!!!
- Undercut your own rates with combo buys.
- Regional contests!
- National contests!
- What about contests where we don't have any actual winners? That's Genius!
- Fire salespeople. "What?!? That makes no sense!" Do it anyway. Give their clients to the remaining salespeople.
- Take the company public! Hello IPO!!!
- Add micro spots!
- Fire middays! Track it.
- HD! We need more signals! Even though we're struggling to survive with a stripped down staff, clearly more signals is the answer!
- Fire some engineers!
- Naming rights! It's no longer our contest. Now, it's Verizon's.
- Cut the length of spots in half and charge more for them! "WTF?" Just do it.
- Sell every single benchmark every single jock does.
- Fire nights on every station but one. Beam the remaining jock to the rest.
- More naming rights! It's not even our morning show anymore!
- Take the company private!!!
- Get Seacrest for afternoons! "...we've already got him on middays."
- Literally sponsor anything. Did a jock take a crap? Fish it out and find a goddam sponsor for it! "Uhm, we don't HAVE jocks anymore."
Greed and gluttony devastated the basic business model commercial radio was built on, and still, it wasn't enough. How could it ever be enough? The mountain of corporate debt is too high. Even if all of the debt were magically wiped off the books, how do you get advertisers to pay what the airtime is worth? Come to think of it, what exactly *IS* the airtime worth these days? Our stations aren't local, our content isn't compelling, and our listeners use us more as a utility than a passion. Oh, and by the way, nearly fifteen years of piss-poor radio has created an entire generation of passionless listeners.
If Clear Channel were to be broken up, how could any of this change? How would any of the individual stations even be able to afford to stand on their own?