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(TALENT) PitMan -- The Wonder Exec?


Modern radio, particularly music-radio, reminds me of the old Chevy Corvairs relatively cheap, air-cooled, and light on the front end. But even with Little Joe of TVs Bonanza zipping around the ranch in his Monza during the commercials, it was still a gutless wonder. What Chevy didnt do and radio did was add the equivalent of the Pintos gas tank. Consequently, we have been blowing ourselves up ever since.

Ive never met Bob Pitman and he doesnt return my calls. So, the chances of our getting together are pretty slim. Plus, he has been around Clear Channel long enough for moats and ramparts to be built and gatekeepers to be installed so as to make him utterly insulated.

To the degree the analogy holds, Bobs situation reminds me of the one President Obama inherited an economy that was sputtering along only somewhat satisfactorily. However, with the dynamics for its destruction having already been set in place, things got far worse before he stepped into the Oval Office. I am also reminded of the poor sap who buys a house, does the walk-through and finds, in the intervening weeks before taking possession, the sellers have not only taken all the appliances, but ripped out the insulation, plumbing, and wiring. The scoundrels even bored a hole in the bottom of the hot tub. Does this not fit with the Clear Channel situation?

Clear Channel is directly responsible for building and implementing the model of radio that has rendered it (radio) as an also ran among the communications and advertising industries. Not only has this model wrecked the medium, it has created a stool so glossy as to hypnotize the rest of the radio leadership into thinking it is a blazing diamond. This just in: Its not a diamond its a highly buffed and lacquered stoolie.

Thats what Bob might have found when he opened the first file drawers. Holy s***! Bob might have hollered. That he didnt run away muttering does, however, speak well to the mans character.

Within the industry, there are those who look to Mr. Pitman to save everybodys bacon the industry itself. Im pretty sure that he can flip through his contract and find none of that included in his mandate.  He is sitting on a 20 billion dollars-in-debt ejection seat wired with a hair trigger. Fixing the whole business may be a little lower on his hierarchy of values than a lot of the leadership might hope.

That he has taken Clear Channel into the E (Entertainment) business is not a good sign for those holding out for a singular fix of the radio portion of the C.C. (E.) global domination enterprise. Plus, it would not be unreasonable to project that some very serious considerations of even more cost-cutting in the radio sector is always on the table. This is the situation in an industry that has already been decimated by that very strategy. Been there killed that. At least Hannibal, when he said to one of his generals, This crossing-the-Alps-thingie is sure gonna be tough on the guys and the elephants still had guys and elephants. Radio has long been sacrificing the guys to the gods of fiduciary obligations and heartily dining out on its elephants. Big shot leadership is still whining about the cost of talent. This, even while most of the talent is already at the curb.

Although this may be bad timing on my part, a re-consideration of the contemporary, corporate way of doing things might be in order even as an aside. I claim we live in times where fiduciary duties has become a radio code-term that means and mandates: Provide the least possible quality of goods and services at the least possible cost. Use OPM (other peoples money) in the process. Take as much as possible from everybody and keep everything.

This is exactly the strategy to apply when creating massive debt, suppressing the workforce, refusing to reinvest in improvements, and making top management and (occasionally) the shareholders the only beneficiaries of the enterprise.

In the meantime, I suppose there are a few more cost-cutting measures that could be taken. Slashing sales commissions, while dangerous, is always right up there. Renting out the former jock lounges to escort agencies is another. Providing the morning personality with a pre-recorded, syndicated sidekick is something that, to my knowledge, has yet to be attempted. And if that puts a thought into any programmers mind, I apologize to whats left of the talent-base.

It is my strongly-held position that all the deckchairology that can be applied has already been applied. For more than 30 years, consultants and master-blaster P.D.s have been summoned to rearrange those deck chairs and occasionally supply paddles to the crew. But, here we are in irons lolling about in still and stagnant waters.

If radio is to make any strides into otherwise unbooked and perhaps undreamed of advertising territory while increasing the appeal to an, apparently, still available audience, it will be only as a result of a massive improvement in the delivery of our talents presentations and the design and production of our commercials. I dont know that this outcome is a priority for Mr. Pitman or if it has even been mentioned around the client enhancement, buffet table and complimentary bar.

This would also be the case and the challenge for any owner or operator of any radio station or any organization of any size. That would include the likes of Clear Channel.

When Bob was unpacking his bags, Im almost sure he didnt yank out a cape, a utility belt, and a pair of form-fitting spandex tights. Now, that may just be a man-hope on my part rather than an expression of a certainty. I mean, like I said, weve never met.

Ronald T. Robinson has been involved in Canadian Radio since the '60s as a performer, writer and coach and has trained and certified as a personal counsellor. Ron makes the assertion that the most important communicative aspects of broadcasting, as they relate to Talent and Creative, have yet to be addressed. Check out his website

(11/28/2013 8:22:30 AM)
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- Mary
(11/26/2013 9:40:32 PM)
Radio Ink Magazine

(11/14/2012 12:04:17 PM)
Further, and only because the next piece has already been put to bed, I think it prudent to mention that professional, radio broadcasters are better-served by having facts put before them.

More poor decisions are made when fantasies and/or a "Pollyanna" attitude are all that are driving the next day's efforts.

When shoddy information is the basis for making those decisions, only more problems can ensure. Radio has been working under any number of fantasies and yes, delusions - for a very long time. What other possible influences could there be for the industry - the oldest and most pervasive broadcasting medium - to be in a position of being able to garner 5% (tops) of available revenues?

This industry is scrambling - in all departments to avoid an even greater decline, but it is obvious to me that the leadership doesn't have a clue as to how to go about making the changes. They don't even know what those changes could be.

Some pundits argue for everybody to do more and work harder. Plus, the addition of online responsibilities only takes away from the time and effort it is going to take to improve what we do - talk on the radio.

Anything else is just a further waste of time and a "make work" project. Not only do we have to go back to the basics, but the basics to which we do go back must be NEW basics.

Five percent! That's another fact, and it's embarrassing, shameful and is an obvious demonstration of incredible incompetencies.

That some suggest shaking the pom-poms is the way to go only speaks to where we're at - and where we need to go.

- Ronald T. Robinson
(11/14/2012 8:52:33 AM)
Bob may want to strap in for the next one, then.
Some - maybe most - broadcasters get sick to their little tummies when presented with my material. But none of them ever come up with evidence to support the contrary.

- Ronald T. Robinson
(11/14/2012 12:25:10 AM)
I agree with Rainy Night...this guy Robinson is babbling incoherently. There is absolutely no logical point to his column.
This is an overall problem with Radio Ink...too many opionated columnists and consultants on here, all with "the answers"...If they are so smart, why aren't they running stations?
I think Radio Ink should focus on actual, real advertiser success stories from around the country, from salespeople and sales managers.
And get rid of the consultants on here!

- Bob

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