...don't even ignore 'em.
-- Samuel Goldwyn

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Radio: the more things change...

In an article in the latest Business Week, a reporter writes about a visit with the young management team at the San Antonio HQ of Clear Channel, the 800 lb. gorilla of commercial radio. Sorry, the link takes you to BW's home page; though I got a look at the article via somebody else's direct link, when I went back to get the link for this post, I had to register, then was told I'd have to be a subscriber to see that story online. Which is what you'll have to do to see the whole thing. But never mind, here's the point:

Radio stations have always been small businesses, units of ten to forty people, often family-run, quirky, entrepreneur-driven dictatorships, resisting all self-imposed attempts at modern management. Hey, it's home-town show business, sort of. The BW reporter finds...

Chief Executive Mark P. Mays, 41, in khakis and a short-sleeved plaid shirt, bounds into the office of his brother, 39-year-old Chief Financial Officer Randall, carrying an enormous loose-leaf notebook....Mark, Randall, and John T. Tippit, senior vice-president for strategic development, are in their weekly strategy session. Huddled over notebooks filled with employee suggestions, the Texas-raised Ivy League MBAs gather, as they do each Monday, to plot their course in the lightning-fast world of media...."Let's get moving. I have another meeting in 45 minutes," says Mark. Hungry for innovation, the three begin poring over some 300 proposals winnowed from their 35,000 U.S. employees who were asked to pitch ideas for changing the company's business as usual.
Amazing, no? 1200 stations--including the best stations in the biggest markets; 35,000 employees--arguably the cream of radio's talent pool; and here are the two white-guy MBA sons-of-the-founder and one non-family radio guy, screening stuff from the suggestion box, looking for strategy for the entire enterprise. As if they'll know what the big idea is for New York or, say, Yakima, WA, if they see it. It's so comforting to me to know that consolidation hasn't spoiled radio.

No comments: