Airwaves: October 17, 2008
In an effort to prove that they, like other huge media companies, can suck the very life out of radio, CBS has begun cutting millions of dollars from their payroll across the country, including he firing of 20 people at KFWB (980 AM) and KNX (1070 AM) and the closing of KFWBs Orange County and Long Beach bureaus.
Not unexpectedly, the layoffs were of people actually doing the work, including Larry Carroll and Sharon Katchen from KFWB, and Vicki Cox from KNX. Management escaped essentially untouched.
Word on the street is that high level CBS corporate executives ordered the cuts, and that no station in the CBS chain is safe. Same goes for stations in every other huge media group including Clear Channel and Citadel. Many observers say it will only get worse as we get closer to the holidays.
Makes you wonder what ever happened to those economies of scale touted as the media groups pushed for deregulation and massive station holdings.
Just like the extra variety we were promised once deregulation was approved, it was an empty promise, a lie. The media companies have been on a downward spiral for years, beginning with the deregulation they so badly wanted. It seems that lost in all of the consolidation frenzy was a simple concept: programming.
I think the message CBS is sending is clear: buy stock in any company that offers alternative entertainment choices, since even they dont believe in their own stations. Cut to the bone the news staffs of an all-news station pair, and what do you have? Certainly nothing that matters. iPods? XM? Sirius? Apparently CBS believes more in those than they do their own stations, otherwise they wouldnt destroy them like this.
Of course they wouldnt be in this situation if they offered a product people wanted. It wasnt that long ago that radio was special to most people. Now it is a cheap commodity.
My cynical take? Bring it on. The faster that CBS and the others go totally broke, the faster we get real radio back as independent owners return. If you program two stations as one, why do you need two stations? There is absolutely no excuse for running the stations into the ground. That they have and are still doing so, shows they are unfit to hold a license. Since the FCC wont fix that, perhaps the business side will. Good riddance, CBS radio. Hopefully sooner than later.
Gil Stratton, who locally graced the sports-desk airwaves of KNX from 1967 to 1997, save for a year away in 1985, passed away last Saturday from heart failure. He was 86.
A 40-year veteran of CBS sports including local reports on KNXT/KCBS-TV Channel 2, Stratton was much more than a sports voice. He had an acting career that began in movies, then spread to radio dramas and Broadway plays.
But he is best known for sports, and his career is quite impressive. In the mid-1950s, he became sports director of Channel 2; in 1960 he reported from the Olympic Summer Games in Rome. His tenure at both KNX and Channel 2 is virtually unmatched in the industry.
He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Dee, five children, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Copyright © 2008 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.
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