The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

03 March 2008

Suleman's Destruction Of Talk Radio Fuels Calls For Termination


CEO Not Held Accountable For Citadel-ABC Radio Collapse

As another wave of destructive layoffs hit Citadel- ABC Radio today, the man responsible for his company's spectacular collapse still refuses to take responsibility for the extraordinary damage he has done to the nation's largest and most successful talk radio stations.

Between burned investors, compromised radio stations and a talk format now in poor shape going into a crucial election season, failed CEO Farid Suleman is busy making enemies from coast- to- coast.

Today, calls for Suleman to be fired have grown, including USC Professor/ industry analyst Jerry Del Colliano. At Inside Music Media, Del Colliano points to Suleman's huge salary at the very time he is wiping out programming schedules across the country:

He has earned the right to get a pink slip for many, many reasons. Among them:

1. Presiding over a company that is virtually worthless to its shareholders. Over $10 a share a year or so ago and $1.10 a share when it closed Friday. I mention shareholder value first since it is the Holy Grail of consolidators. The shareholders should call for his head based on that alone. But, there's more.

2. Farid has presided over the destruction of the once proud and profitable ABC radio stations and network. He lusted after them like a true dealmaker with eyes larger than his stomach, but in the end his actions or inactions ran ABC into the ground, too. Cutbacks may be the magic of bean counters but they are not what success is made of for operators. John Hare was pretty good in comparison, wasn't he -- when we look in retrospect.

3. Gutting the treasury of a troubled company. My old friend and RBR publisher Jim Carnegie reminds me that Farid was compensated to the tune of $17 million last year -- excessive even if he succeeded and that the company has taken care of his capital gains situation. If you do that for a failed CEO, what do you do for one who delivers, say -- a $2.00 share price for a radio stock? $34 million -- Double! Insane.

4. Farid's first response to each financial crisis at Citadel is to fire the staff. The Chicago Tribune reported what staffers were calling a "bloodbath" at Citadel--owned WLS in Chicago. But wait, The Trib got it wrong. It reported Citadel, "fired a number of staffers, including several news veterans, as owner Citadel Broadcasting slashed costs nationwide during one of the biggest advertising downturns in radio history." What? No the media is drinking the Kool-Aid of these desperate consolidators.

What about the several year trend downward in share price -- before the economic downturn? There are cutbacks at other ABC stations. Washington. Atlanta. New York. The "leader" is assuring his shareholders that he's in charge. Here's how he's quoted by Frank Saxe in Inside Radio, "Suleman says 'The time for talk is over and it is now time for the walk.' Suleman says the biggest "disappointment" has been the big markets where national revenues have been "a complete disaster." It's those former ABC Radio stations which Citadel bought from Disney last year." Farid has had plenty of time to walk the walk. Instead he stumbles.

5. A total lack of understanding on how to create and market content. That's why he's shown little sensitivity to the fact that Paul Harvey is his biggest star at 90 years old. The bean counter will try to slash that expense when his contract is up soon. Unable to grasp the business he is in -- programming and marketing content -- Farid does the only thing he knows -- playing with his -- numbers.

Of course, he forgot point number six: Suleman wasted most of 2007 courting crusty has- been Don Imus with a huge pay package rather than saving his company from ruin.

With the company reporting massive losses from declining sales, poor programming choices and valuation issues, the damage seems too severe to repair even with the most talented future management.

Meanwhile, the already- staggering body count grew today, as additional hosts, producers and other staffers were sacked in additional cities, now including San Francisco and Dallas- Fort Worth.

Especially shocking: highly- rated KSFO morning host Melanie Morgan was among those let go. Co- host Lee Rodgers, who had already cut his schedule to just four shows per week, will now be expected to carry on alone. This has sent shockwaves through Bay Area media circles, where even longtime entertainment reporter Brad Kava, a leftist, has expressed his alarm.

Elsewhere, we are still awaiting word on additional sackings expected in various cities.

For conservative talk radio, this represents a crisis, as some of the biggest syndicated names in the business will soon be affected by Citadel's failure. While many conservative bloggers still seem unaware of the issue, a few liberals have attempted to assign partisan motives to the meltdown.

The problem with that approach is that this has occurred despite the success of right- leaning talk, due to entirely epic managerial incompetence. And for those inclined to play that game, just take a look at Suleman's liberal political contribution history.

In addition, Suleman was behind the baffling elimination of Rush Limbaugh from his longtime home in Providence, WPRO-AM.

But this isn't just about the wipeout of major- market conservative talk radio during an election year: many of those who have seen their careers ruined are reporters, producers and support personnel. Many are hard- core liberals.

There are bad managers and there is Farid Suleman, in a league of his own. We can either keep him fat and happy in his Greenwich estate or save this popular and productive medium from a complete wipeout.

Which do you choose?

FOR New England regional talk radio updates, see our other site.

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  • Brian;

    You may not be willing to make this connect-the-dots, but I will.

    1.) Suleman is a noted liberal.

    2.) He goes to great lengths to acquire the largest Talk Radio network there is; ABC networks.

    3.) The year of a Presidential election, he runs it into the ground.

    Suleman has everything to gain politically from this debacle; and is set financially already from his grossly inflated compensation.

    Somewhere, George Soros is laughing out loud.


    By Blogger J.D. Long, at 03 March, 2008 18:53  

  • JD may be on to something, but all I know is this: I used to have every single radio in my house slaved to WABC as the startup station, so they'd be the first thing I heard when I woke up and hit the "On" switch on my nightstand, to the bathroom, all the way to the kitchen.

    The he fired Curtis & Kuby. Button #2, WNYC, switched places with Button #1.

    Now, after ditching Gambling (whose Friday show with Mayor Bloomie is about to implode, because there is no way Nannie Mikey will put up with Curtis's BS for longer than fifteen minutes) and uber newsman Weber, you couldn't pay me to play that station on any given weekday.

    The WABC ratings are about to take a massive hit. Limbaugh, Hannity and Levin ain't gonna save it.

    It's like "The Day the Music Died" all over again.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 03 March, 2008 20:45  

  • "Especially shocking: highly- rated KSFO morning host Melanie Morgan was among those let go."


    "There are bad managers and there is Farid Suleman, in a league of his own."

    Brian, what could possibly make you think this realignment will begin and end with Suleman, or Citadel?

    Did he personally instigate or preside over consolidation, the true culprit?

    "I used to have every single radio in my house slaved to WABC as the startup station, so they'd be the first thing I heard when I woke up and hit the "On" switch on my nightstand, to the bathroom, all the way to the kitchen."

    Unhealthy, TC. You KNOW that.

    "The he fired Curtis & Kuby. Button #2, WNYC, switched places with Button #1."

    Curtis was never fired. He was kept on to fill Gambling's slot, he sounds even more apelike without a foil, and he will be just as unceremoniously dumped at the end of his contract because he is ridiculously overpaid and is a subpar national political commentator.

    Morans like Beck or even Boortz come far cheaper and, believe if or not, they will sound better to WABC's suburban audience.

    "...because there is no way Nannie Mikey will put up with Curtis's BS for longer than fifteen minutes..."

    Agree. And, during Curtis' eulogy to Gambling this morning, he paid homage to both the Gambling's Friday interviews and Bloomberg himself without adding that those interviews will continue as before.

    "...uber newsman Weber..."

    Disagree. Anyone fool enough to be quoted in a social situation, with media whores present, words to the effect that the real news doesn't really matter, so you give the people what they want, has serious judgement issues that render him a corporate liability. Every item had a ridiculously blatant and unashamedly right-wing spin, Weber was not "New York" and he wasn't worth half of what he was paid.

    "The WABC ratings are about to take a massive hit. Limbaugh, Hannity and Levin ain't gonna save it."

    Ultimately, not as an exclusive preserve for conservative radio, no.

    "It's like "The Day the Music Died" all over again."

    Just because I've predicted all of this for several years doesn't mean we have to be maudlin about it...:)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 03 March, 2008 22:43  

  • JD's last sentence may be pregnant with meaning. Soros & friends may have a kamikaze business plan for talk radio that enacts leftie legislation by buying and torching.

    The hilariously misnamed Fairness Doctrine enacted by rich liberals?

    By Blogger dave in boca, at 04 March, 2008 01:27  

  • Well said. This can't be an accident; those beady-eyed leftists know exactly what they're doing.

    By Blogger ProudGulfWarVet65, at 04 March, 2008 06:11  

  • Hey hashie? According to local idiot/WABC producer Frank Morano, they're gonna take Sliwa national.

    Soon the entire country gets to listen to that jibbering idiot.

    Gawd, I can't stand the sound of his voice, and I freakin' sound like him!

    By Blogger Unknown, at 04 March, 2008 09:35  

  • Rolling on the floor laughing once more, from the paranoid, delusional wing nut... The "libs" and George Soros are behind the destruction of Citadel and the firing of that vile whore Morgan!!! Libs!!!! Libs!!!! Libs!!!!

    it's called the "free market" wack jobs and the "free market" is deciding the fate of the dying format of conservative talk radio, only so much money you can make with an undesirable demographic, as others have pointed out on this bklog. Con talk radio does not make money, and many spots on these shows are FREE spots, where advertisers pay based on response from an 800 #. Repeat: conservative radio does NOT BILL WELL. The illusion that this kind of talk actually has an audience is fading, and reality is setting in. 25 years of this garbage, this money loser, is catching up to the suits.

    Remember how cons would shriek "there is no market for liberal radio", appearantly their NO longer is much of a market for wing nuts like Melanie Morgan.

    All of a sudden the "free market" can not take hold and eliminate the trash infesting the airwaves, which nobody is listening to except retired people??? bu bu bu libs? Try bu bu bu bu free market.

    What's next, the government intervening and giving money to wing nut radio's survivial? I suppose that is what the psuedo-cons are hoping for, after all McCain is tight with media lobbyists. America is rejecting the message, listeners are not responmding to the advertisments, the wing nut demos, obviously have no money to spend, the revenue is down, nothing to do with Soros, or libs, it has all to do with the free market.

    Deal with it

    and I joyfully read ther stpry of Morgan being canned... good riddance to bad rubbish.

    By Blogger Minister of Propaganda, at 04 March, 2008 09:57  

  • What's next, the government intervening and giving money to wing nut radio's survivial?

    No, MoPee. Since you are an obstinate idiot, I shall, without requesting my usual fee, explain it to thee:

    1)Suleman has destroyed Citadel's equity.

    2)Shareholders are pulling their hair out, reaching right through their skulls to get them by the roots.

    3)Some guy is sitting in a hedge fun/commerce-as-vampire office, and is saying to himself, "Self? Do I know anybody that understands radio? And does that person understand the new metrics?"

    If Number 3 knows the right guy (or girl), they will scoop the whole shebang up, throw everything smelling of Citadel away, and restore one of that industry's primary brands.

    Or else ABC Radio will be one notch above pirate radio... which means it will still laugh at you.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 04 March, 2008 10:44  

  • I don't know why MoPoop and Che Hashbong think they are relevant. They say the same meaningless leftist rants over and over again. I guess they subscribe fully to Josef Goebbels's school of journalism.

    By Blogger PCD, at 04 March, 2008 10:49  

  • Mopoop and Che Hashbong's icons reported the Right-wing conspiracy caused Randi Rhodes to fall while walking her dog.

    Wow, those wingnuts are all-powerful!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 04 March, 2008 12:44  

  • Citadel station WMAL on Friday fired Republican anti-illegals crusader Chris Core after 33 years on the station, an amazing display.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 04 March, 2008 13:11  

  • Free market catching up with the perpetual moneyt loser, conservatalk radio, a Failure, a huge money loser. again from radio advertising experience, 80% of the comercials on talk radio, are FREE spots, paid by the sponse per response by measuring the calls from the 800#.

    only the facts. conservative talk radio makes no MONEY. This pattern is finally being exposed, Citadel will not be the only company firing wing nuts, they are money LOSERS. FACT. When 8 out of 10 spots are free radio spots, how are they possibly making money?

    Theyu are not. Ask a ad sales person, selling conservatalk radio is impossible without the pay-per-response deal.

    This is not only done in conservatalk radio, all radio and cable t.v as well, only these deals are heavilly in the conservatard format, the only way to get someone to advertise on these shows is to offer them free spots. 80% of the spots are free and based on response in the talk radio field.
    I have bought air time for companies, I understand how it works, and I know former sales people from ABC/Cap cities.

    No reason to lie, especially to a bunch of crazed wing nuts, who will save my posts and quote me later on.

    By Blogger Minister of Propaganda, at 04 March, 2008 14:05  

  • Imus starts Thursday on Citadel-owned WJZW/105.9 in Washington, D.C. market. The station converted last Friday from smooth jazz to the "true oldies" format, firing its on-air staff in the process. More at DCRTV.

    By Blogger Everett W., at 04 March, 2008 17:14  

  • If you would take the target off J. D. Imus's back it would do a great service to your readBrian,

    Imus did not take Citadel down. They had been going down before the fine investment in Don Imus. Key to this is syndication which you fail to mention.

    Limbaugh, Hannity, Levin, Grant and Ingraham are money makers. And Imus is growing with his affiliates.

    Shedding the losing stations is the key to making the money.

    Curtis Sliwa is no money maker. Though many in the NY market liked him. And they want to syndicate him? Good grief.

    There are thousands of us that watch this same old song you sing about Imus. And your not doing anyone a service by pointing him out as a cause for Citadel's problems.

    By Blogger Bruce, at 04 March, 2008 20:41  

  • MoPee: "free market catching up with the perpetual moneyt loser, conservatalk radio, a Failure, a huge money loser. again from radio advertising experience, 80% of the comercials on talk radio, are FREE spots, paid by the sponse per response by measuring the calls from the 800#."

    The level of idiocy that statement contains is astounding. Really, I am impressed.

    Your moronacy must seep into Queens.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 04 March, 2008 23:32  

  • Melanie Morgan will be back. She is too good a talent to ignore. Somebody will pick her up. And Minister of Poop will just have to lump it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 04 March, 2008 23:58  

  • I'm speaking the truth, the secret of talk radio, 8 out of 10 spots on talk radio are given away on a pay per response basis, I know radio sales people, ad agents and former people from ABC/Cap cities

    Deal with it T.C. They pulled the charade off for 20 years, the house of cards is folding, how long can you create an illusion? The spot loads on these talk shows are an illusion, most of the spots are FREE. you were fooled by the illusion, I undersrtand the business and have some

    FACTS, T.C, this is the radio business. Not moronic, this is the radio business, and the same is true for most spots on Liberal Talk as well. pay per response, advertising, I know from experience.
    The company I work for (which will remain nameless) just ran 200 spots on Dr. Laura's network and they were all FREE, we paid based on response from the 800#...... For the amount of stations Laura is on, and the cost of ZERO down, it was a great deal.

    This is how it works. T.C. I know people in radio, in the advertising end and have worked on campaigns for my job.

    I have no need to lie, to a half-wit from Staten Island such as yourself and I live in Brooklyn, not Queens, sparky.

    If you think I'm full of crap, prove me wrong, calling me moronic, DOES NOT CHANGE THE FACTS.

    Now GROW UP. I'm probably the only one on this board, even remotly connected to the crap radio business. I used to work for Radio Today (former syndicator of Dr. Laura), I used to sell spots for the old WEVD (pre ESPN) and the old
    WLIR(former rock station in Garden City), I still have a few contacts, who worked for Disney/Cap cities before they all got fired after the take over, and still occasionally deal with radio advertising at my day job.

    When I tell you something, related to advertising, it is 100% the truth. This is how a lot of talk radio advertising is, whether it be political talk, health talk, financial talk, etc. etc. 800# driven pay per response.

    Man up, T.C, admit you are wrong. Do you have the testicular fortitude to admit you are wrong?

    By Blogger Minister of Propaganda, at 05 March, 2008 10:04  

  • "Melanie Morgan will be back."

    Maybe with the Salem apostards.

    Other than there, she's deader than Kelsey's nuts.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 05 March, 2008 13:03  

  • Minister of Poop does not speak truth. He has never spoken truth on this website before, so he won't start now. And Melanie Morgan will be back.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 05 March, 2008 21:44  

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