Friday, February 7, 2014

Breaking: The Latest Cumulus Bloodbath; KGO Radio Traffic Layoffs; Only Mark Nieto Spared; SF Cluster Gloom At 55 Hawthorne

 Cumulus, the company that might as well adopt consolidation as its corporate logo, has let loose again--this time at its SF headquarters, more commonly referred to as the 55 Hawthorne cluster.

Late Thursday, the cloud company had another bludgeon; a mini-downsizing if you will.

This time, KGO Radio was the latest recipient of the Dickey family consolidation.


Those let go involved the entire traffic division. Google Radiate.

Those receiving their walking papers are not household names although I'm sure some of them have house payments and families to feed and will no longer be employed. They include Clark Reid, Paul Rogers,  and Sherry Brown ,  Carolyn Burns. There's others on the list but I was not able to confirm the  names through some of my sources. Only morning drive traffic anchor, Mark Nieto was spared.

I also heard they let go of some reporters--this MO might be a chance to explain how they operate. Or, as a staffer told me:

 "We're a news station in SF with NO air coverage, and we outsource traffic to a place in Dallas where they pay them Less than they do here. That's LIVE and LOCAL for you."

About reporters, Cumulus' lean and mean cuisine is nothing new in the broadcast community. Only here, the carving has been minimized by the presence of the union at KGO. The motto: We hire someone who will work for less with no experience.

*Developing ....

*Follow me on Twitter

50 comments:

  1. Where's the guy with a red carpet in the back of his truck who Tweeted Rich is always wrong? Where are you Mr. Entertainer? Rich called it and he was right. AGAIN!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rich is STILL WRONG! Where's the bloodbath???

      Delete
  2. I have read so many "bloodbath" stories on this site that I'm amazed any Bay Area radio/tv station is still operating. How about just giving us a behind the scenes story when something a little more substantial than a few traffic department layoffs actually happens? And I am a robot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We must stop discrimination against robots! Cylons have rights too! We were just born this way!!!

      Delete
  3. KGO can't compete with KCBS on traffic anyway, because they scuttled the use of reporters in planes when Cumullus bought the property back in 2012. KCBS still uses airborne reporters. Two folks who do the traffic at KGO: Robin Winston and Mark Nieto do as good a job as any in the bay area however, but they're never given much credit. I guess they're also 'too insignificant' to warrant a small mention from Rich in his blog!

    ReplyDelete
  4. That was the only reason that we still listened to KGO

    ReplyDelete
  5. So Lieberman is up in arms because three people in the traffic division were let go? Who cares except for Lieberman apparently believes big media companies shouldn't run their companies as efficiently as possible?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Guy Serving You Your Fucken Lunch.February 7, 2014 at 2:40 PM

      What is efficiency? Efficiency at what cost? Having people hate their jobs? Having people not care about their work? Do you think Cumulus is creating a BETTER product by having NO ONE working locally? Is it better for the cities that these stations exist? You have a SF station being staffed by people in lower paid states? That's a GOOD thing? Get your head out of your ass. No one is suggesting companies shouldn't try to make money, but at what point does profit maximizing destroy the incentive to do good work? These same companies that want to make sure workers have no protections? Have no unions? That's a GOOD thing? You're a fucken dolt. Shut your dumb mouth before someone actually hears you.

      Quick. Someone go ask Lew Dickey how NASH FM is doing in New York. Let me give you a hint: Pretty fucken terribly.

      Delete
    2. Thanks for the touching essay.
      What is efficiency?
      the ability to do something or produce something without wasting materials, time, or energy
      Efficiency at what cost?
      Efficiency inherently means: at less cost.

      Delete
    3. 2:40, if you're so smart, morally superior, and got everything figured out, start a radio station. You'd be universally loved by the listeners, employees, and unions for your altruistic views.

      Take the computer you used to create your potty mouthed post and apply your logic to it. It would cost 3 times as much and be no better if not worse. Do you drive a california made car? Don't say no because they make them...Tesla.

      Grow up and tone down your emotions. Call your local(liberal) law maker and demand change....deadend. Surprise...the corporations bought them off.

      We're doomed. Positive change won't happen in our lifetime, not with a 2 party system.

      Delete
    4. "The Guy" is correct. It's at least 5 or 6 people that have been dismissed. If you heard some of the traffic reports coming from Dallas, you'll quickly know why you cannot outsource something that actually requires local knowledge. The amount of money saved must be a pittance anyway since "Radiate" was a cut rate pay scale to begin with. Horribly embarrassing cheapening of product. Some real pros have lost their jobs for basically nothing. This company is simply pathetic. Rich's indignation here is totally justified.

      Delete
    5. Awesome Rant!!

      Delete
  6. Hey 1257...You are not only a robot, you're a moron. Truth hurts? The truth about radio going down the shitter makes you cry, "Shitter's Full?" Are you a paid intern at KGone making minimum wage and getting college units and were told by the brainiacs to post this on the site?

    Are you Col. Jessup and can't handle the truth?

    Facts are facts. Truth is truth. Radio and television are going into the abyss. Newspapers and magazines are already there. Media is already just a megaphone for slick marketing types who want their agendas pushed into the public eye. Media is so overworked that they don't give a shit anymore. Muckraking is just a passing thought.

    Wake up you moron...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Down-sizing is a way of life in all businesses. Why do you think the radio business should be any different?

      Delete
    2. 2:25, it's not a long-term beneficial way for human businesses to exist. Unless humans start downsizing the human population.

      Cylons rule!

      Delete
    3. OK 3:01, I'm convinced. KGO should keep extra employees on their payroll regardless of whether they are needed or not.

      Next time you get your house painted, be sure to hire some extra painters to stand around and watch.

      Delete
    4. The thing is, the KGO employees that were axed ARE needed. They provide a better service (traffic reporting) than someone remote in Dallas.

      Tell you what. Next time you're sick, how about you consult a doctor in India? They're cheaper, and who cares if they're remote?

      Delete
    5. 4:03: No one is suggesting that companies keep unneeded employees on the payroll. But these are positions that are clearly needed. The difference is Cumulus has decided to move these positions to Dallas to save a few bucks. Do you actually believe that someone in Dallas who has absolutely knowledge of the Bay Area can do even an adequate job of reporting traffic here? Same thing goes for news, and I guarantee you Cumulus is sending news jobs to Texas as well.

      Delete
  7. What's unusual about this? This has been Cumullus' MO since they moved into the bay area 8 years ago. They could care less about quality or serving the public, or the legacy of KGO. All they care about is PROFITS and KEEPING THE SHAREHOLDERS HAPPY! They certainly wouldn't have gotten into the broadcasting business before 1996 when deregulation torched the industry. The saddest part of that was that the vast majority of naive Americans have no idea, nor could care less that it happened!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course America doesn't care. They are dealing with it at their offices as well. This is an America for Corporations, and you have people like Ted Cruz and a Supreme Court making it more so every day. Have fun with it.

      Delete
    2. Actually, Bill Clinton was in power when the deregulation of the broadcasting business took place in 1996. Or perhaps history isn't your strong point.

      Going to vote for Mrs. Clinton in two years? You might want to rethink that...

      Cylon power!

      Delete
    3. They care about 401k and IRA's not their neighbors job. They want a good deal on the crap they buy at Walmart too.

      Delete
    4. Pretty sure Newt Gingrich was head of the house, and Strom Thurmond head of the Senate when that bill was passed. Written by Congress, of course. Certainly not a crowning achievement, but inserting accuracy into a conversation with a Conservatives isn't something their into. There was more than 50 radio companies when the bill to "foster competition" was signed, which to me, sounds more like a Republican talking point, no? Now there are less than 15. Sounds about right. Now if the assumption is that Hillary is Bill, or vice versa, I would suggest looking at her track record. Then again, Republicans always want bipartisanship, and the lax laws on business, so is someone here both for these things, and against Clinton for signing a Republican bill? It's all SO CONFUSING!

      Let me sum it up: You're a fucking dolt.

      Delete
    5. Someone brought up Bill Clinton? Why? What point you trying to prove? You're talking about a bill that was signed almost 20 years ago, that clearly wasn't good! Do you think he signs that today? "Was in power?" Did he write the law? Was he in charge of a Republican Congress that shutdown the government?

      End of the day, Conservatives are on the side of corporations, and you can be sure the Dickeys are just that. The radio business has been trashed by Bain (who bought Clear Channel) and the new firm running Cumulus.

      But this is the America conservatives want. Less regulation, and more corporate dominance. This is deregulation, no? Moving jobs to Texas because of the internet, right? I'm not sure Newt Gingrich or Bill Clinton saw that coming.

      Times have changed. Workers can't care because they're worried about their next paycheck.

      Delete
    6. Hey 3:03: The congress was stacked with people that would have overriden a veto anyhow; this occurred right at the waxing of the Ken Starr days.

      Delete
    7. "Conservative" and "Republican" are often not synonymous. Conservatives despise country club, corporate, crony capitalist Republicans as much as any liberal does. Constitutionalist conservatives are nothing like chamber of commerce style Republicans. Or hadn't you noticed there is what amounts to a battle for the soul of the Republican Party?

      Delete
  8. On a slightly different subject (awful radio nonetheless). Rich, check out KSCO's new show radio airing right now. They have a bunch of hacks doing karaoke. Hideous radio! How can this garbage go on air and you not have a show on that station? Geez man.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I hope they don't stop...byebye, Karel.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One could only hope. " I bought the car sight-unseen..." ***rolls eyes***

      Delete
  10. Rich: I also feel for those persons who have lost their traffic jobs at KGO. However; I tune into KCBS for the hourly headlines and to Ronn at the start of his show to know who his guest will be when in my car.. There is never a care for traffic reports. If I am caught in a traffic problem I turn on the satellite traffic reports for San Francisco on the 1's. I have no idea where these reports originate from, but they are good. Perhaps KGO will be using the same people/company.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sirius/XM traffic reports for SF are done locally at Clear Channel's traffic division.

      Delete
  11. "We're a news station in SF with NO air coverage, and we outsource traffic to a place in Dallas where they pay them Less than they do here. That's LIVE and LOCAL for you."

    Median Home Price in Dallas TX: $170,000.
    http://www.forbes.com/places/tx/dallas/

    Median Home Price in SF Bay Area: $510,00.
    http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/Bay-Area-median-home-price-hits-510-000-4520145.php

    What we have are 'Low-Wage Conservatives' running America.
    Yep...Keep voting against your own and America's best interest!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I miss the original He-Man, not that Dolph Lundgren horseshit.


    I have the power! Rrrrrrrr!

    ReplyDelete
  13. You are all missing the real point. With smart phones traffics apps (like Waze) and smarter in-car GPS , the need for the public to rely on local radio for traffic reports diminishes. It's just the reality of your business; there is less demand for the product.

    And, I hate to break this to you, describing traffic is not a highly sought after skill set. So there is that. You should have all stayed in engineering school.

    ReplyDelete
  14. The sad and, actually, the sick of it al: Karel keeps his gig by sucking up, Ryan Scott still "Chefs" on air, Hangin' with Langan continues and god know what's next. I can understand the cuts to traffic and am sorry, for those including Paul Rogers, who are well liked, but I find it sick to take six hours of weekend airtime each for most of the above.

    I mean, if Cumulus wants to make a definitive statement of "change" -- rid themselves of the obvious. Is Ryan Scott really needed? No. Is Karel really needed? Absolutely not. Is Langan the "comic" really needed? No, not at all. These are fill-in stop gaps to what amounts to five hours out of 24 on Saturday and six hours -- one fourth of the day -- on Sunday.

    Radio needs to realize that weekends are an opportune time for listeners to recycle audiences throught the week. The way Cumulus does it is a half-assed, bush league way of either being a weak training ground for untested talent or a freak show with the likes of Karel.

    Less traffic is find, but it only expands by five minutes an hour more of the circus that is on the air. Cumulus must dig deeper or lose more. AM radio isn't growing, it's dying. KGO is a prime example of being on the deathbead..

    ReplyDelete
  15. When you've got fighter jets in the sky and no one to report or even explain what the hell is going on, you bet you want live and local radio. This happened two weeks or so ago and you might as well have been living in Idaho for all the news coverage it got.

    That said, Charles Schwab is letting go 1,000 people and it's said that they have a hard time getting employees to want to come here because of the living costs. How about employing folks who already live in the Bay Area?

    Back to radio. If you have to rely on people who want to be on radio just because they want to be on radio, or on TV, or be "famous", you are really just selling ad time. Karel may as well be a 3-hour ad for himself, so I won't miss it if he goes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I heard the military jets too and went outside to look. This used to be common around here with the Navy base in Alameda. It didn't freak me out but I was curious. It didn't require a report from the news media. There is military in this area even though it is less visible now and sometimes the jets do flyovers.

      Delete
    2. Not everyone has lived here since the Navy Base... It was alarming and nowhere on "live and local" radio. I imagine if it's a Sunday and something alarming happens, no one will report it on KGO.

      Delete
    3. That it was alarming to you personally doesn't mean it required a news report. There are active military bases in this area. Get used to it. Get over it. Whatever. Seriously, what did you think was happening?

      Delete
  16. By the way, those laid off did more than just traffic. Clark Reid was also doing tech reports. Others also did news updates or sports in the non-drivetime segments.

    Not everyone has access to high tech devices in their cars. Plus, the information on these devices is not always the most up to date. They are definitely handy for checking back ups but the latest accidents take a while before they show up. There is no substitute for live and local. Sorry. Cheaping out in this case sounds very cheap indeed. Just listen to some of the so called "traffic reports" on KGO this weekend. Then flip over to KCBS and compare. Very sad.

    ReplyDelete
  17. There is a very easy, tried-and-true and tested way to end this predicament for Cumulus Media and it works all over the nation in markets from LA to New York and everywhere in between.

    This is the last thing a Karel wants to hear, but it would certainly work for him, Langan, Scott and maybe others, like John Hamilton and the Rabbi.

    KGO hires "station personalities" like Ronn, Pat, Finney and Copey. They are "contracted" staffers. News personnel are "contracted". Then, with only 4 account reps at KGO, they know what they have to really sell ad "inventory" for and they focus on that talent.

    The rest of the talent is paid, as Karel is, "AFTRA scale" to be on the air. However, these "talents" must, as a condition of employment, become "independent contractors" and sell THEMSELVES to advertisers and sponsors -- selling their particular niche "programming."

    This is called "brokered programming." It's "pay-as-you-go" radio and it works very well, actually.

    KGO would, then, give 50% of whatever any ad buy for this talent would be to the air talent (since they are the ones selling the inventory) and the rest goes rght to KGO. The station offers time at a discount per hour so that if Karel wants to be on the air from 9-midnight, he pays, $150 a show -- thus making about $75 from AFTRA scale and maybe health benefits from Cumulus. He, then, must -- as he did in his failed syndication, sell ads and sponsors for the show. He could, at $100 a spot, make $50 times six an hour and net $300 an hour or $900 a "show." KGO would make the same. That's how radio makes money.

    Now, in the daytime, when KGO charges $800 a spot for Ronn, that would be impossible to do, hence, why ad execs must stay on top of agencies for the stations most focused and best business.

    A John Hamilton,, for instance, could make -- and has -- a ton selling travel. Ryan Scott could sell restaurants, kitchen ware, etc., Karel could sell, well, Pro-Flowers, clubs, clothing, beverages, etc. Langan, the same.

    Granted, it would be WORK and deals, like the trip to Ireland next month at no cost to Karel, would have to be made, but the idea is produce or be off the air. There are many talented people who could and would do this by "brokering time." It's more than just "using your talent" if that talent doesn't equate to operating costs for KGO in some way. Few advertisers are buying these shows, so, who else better to sell themselves than these talents?

    Some would flat turn it down. "I don't sell." So, then, what DO you do? You have no ratings, you are not liked and you phnne it in from home. So, what's the loss? Business is just that, BUSINESS. Other stations around and in the market do it this way. That way, if the show is any good and gets results (even if one hires sales reps to call on sponsors,) they then move into the ranks of "staff" personalities as proven talent. Saying "Ewwwwww, I don't sell," just doesn't make it. That's what radio does is sell product to listeners for income. That's what makes it work.

    KFWB in LA was, and still may, be selling weekend show slots for up to $6000 an HOUR and sponsors bought into it. Made talent happy, the station happy (a CBS station, incidentally,) and it gave the talent free-rein to be their very best. You'd be surprised how many stations do this now. You're only as good as how much income you earn for your employer, not just "talent." If it ca't be sold, then it has no value. If one can't "sell himself." then, who can?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. KGO is already mostly "brokered". Who knows where the dividing line is with John Hamilton, Karel and Ryan Scott. Sorry, but I'd rather just listen to KQED than have this foisted on me as radio instead of all-day advertising.

      Delete
    2. This is such a silly idea for a Heritage station it's almost not worth addressing, but I will anyway for the sake of the person who typed it out.

      I would agree that on a smaller station you could follow your model, but we're talking about KGO here. This isn't KCMO or even KKSF. This is a massive presence, and a massive signal. They shouldn't have to broker the programming.

      That said, if they were going to do this, there's no way they'd pay the people you mentioned and not the others because I cannot imagine for the life of me the people you mentioned are worthy of paying. Ronn you could pay because I'm sure based on his history and time of day he's sellable. Finney possibly because he has a Bay Area presence. But you couldn't sell Thurston easily, nor you could sell anyone else on the weekend. The people in more prime spots have never accomplished anything, and the people later at night, like Karel et al, they can't garner a rating enough to prove themselves. You'd end up syndicating it to someone outside of market, or trading it. That's all.

      All this said, if you were going for this model, then you'd have to flip the station back to talk, at least for the most part. And if you did that, then maaaaybe you would create enough of an audience to make the weekends valuable enough to see. Short of that you're basically just moving the station one step further down the ladder towards impending doom, which they're probably not far away from now.

      My biggest issue with the Cumulus takeover/flip is that they have no idea what this market is. They do not understand it's inherent uniqueness at all. KQED is by and large #1, which means there are people out there looking for intelligent radio, be in public, or engaging talk. They are treating KGO as if it's a station in Houston or Chicago. It's not. It's a Bay Area legendary station.

      There's no doubt in my mind that if the property were sold to someone who gave a crap, and a GM/PD was allowed to actually program it, they would do quite well. In fact, I think it would serve as a model against the corporate takeover/conglomeration.

      I'm not of the mind radio is about to come back nationally, or that other factors haven't caused it's demise. However, I do believe the corporate owners have been throwing dirt over a live body for the last 15 years. They use the convenient excuse of the internet for destroying radio, when in fact they themselves have destroyed it. This isn't to say it wasn't going to suffer a bit, like all mediums have, but corporate radio hasn't developed a viable talk talent in the last 10-15 years that anyone can point to. They are simply beholden to stockholders, and those investors will not be happy with the results.

      Each quarter they try to squeeze a return. For these people, cutting $11 Million if you have a $10 Million loss is a gain. That's who they are.

      Lets just hope they sell off some properties, or at the very least, recognize that the Bay Area is the most unique place in America, possibly the world.

      Give them good talk radio, and you will get a proven return.

      I don't disagree with the brokered argument as a general model, but I do when it comes to the Bay Area and a powerhouse station like KGO. My hunch is as they continue to cut, they'll look to your tragic model. Treating KGO Radio like a local two-bit TV station.

      Sincerely,

      A Former PD

      Delete
  18. Anyone remember six or seven years ago when KNTV (I think) tried to outsource its weekend weather reports to a studio in LA? That didn't go over too well.

    ReplyDelete
  19. How many fulltime employees does KGO even have anymore? The only reason Cumulus didn't take a torch to KNBR is because that station only has eight or nine full time on air employees. It's amazing people still listen to their tripe with the likes of 'Fitz and Brooks,' 'Gary and Larry,' and that god-awful 'Murph and Mack' frat boy show in the morning. KNBR is lucky that the Giants and Warriors and 49ers are doing so well. Lee Hammer is a complete dolt and a Cumullus stooge!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Clark Reid, Paul Rogers, Sherry Brown, and Carolyn Burns are all veteran Bay Area radio pros. Such a f-ed up business.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. George Acevedo (aka George Matthews) was also part of the latest round at Cumulus - he worked the overnights reporting traffic and news for KGO and KSFO. He'd been on the air for both stations for over 5 years.

      Delete
  21. As a proud Bay Area native I am angry - why do I want to hear my news and traffic by some hack out of Dallas. The importance of local talent and those with knowledge of the area makes a HUGE difference in all aspects of radio reporting. I don't listen to syndicated radio for this reason. I want my information to come from someone who understands the dymanics of our area. I refuse to tune back into KGO/KSFO until they realize the value of local talent.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Glad I found this post. I was wondering where Carolyn Burns and George Acevedo were when I hear these wacky traffic reports now on KGO. Who is running that operation?

    ReplyDelete
  23. Wacky traffic reports huh? Some hack out of Dallas huh? Wow. Nice. The wacky traffic reporters I'm sure are using the same info that Carolyn and George used in their reports. It's been just a little over a month since they changed all this, give the guys/gals a chance to get up to speed with S.F. area stuff. Good God people, quit ripping on people who you have no idea who they even are or where they come from. Everybody has a story.

    ReplyDelete