Friday, March 18, 2016

1618 Bill and Frank are Whirling

Not only Bill and Frank, though.  Bill and Frank and Ed and Walter, and Arthur and Jack and George and Gracie and many others.

Dramatis Personae:

Bill is William S. Paley founder of CBS.
Frank is Frank Stanton its long time president.
Ed is Edward R. Murrow, the grandfather and godfather of broadcast news and still one of the best if not the best of its practitioners.
Walter is Cronkite.
Arthur is Godfrey.
George Burns and Gracie Allen.

Why?

Because the present “managers” at CBS want to either sell or “spin off” the radio division.

“Spin off” is corporate-speak for forming a new company with the assets and liabilities of a division or subsidiary, usually by awarding shares to present stockholders who are then told “OK, we’re through with this, you figure out what to do with it.”

Radio as an industry is a pack of dogs, right now.  But of the dogs, CBS is the best in show and among the few successful.  

But, say its detractors, it’s not growing sufficiently and is therefore a drain on corporate resources.

NBC made a similar mistake in 1987 when it sold its radio network to a bunch of carnival hucksters from California and its owned stations to the highest bidders.

But there’s a difference. CBS is a radio company that has television stations.  NBC from 1947 on was a television company that thought of radio as you think of your pot belly. It’s there. It’s yours. Now let’s figure out how to get rid of it.

ABC made the same mistake more recently.  And while it didn’t sell its radio network, it sold its stations which now are shadows of their former shadows.  (CBS has not said whether it would sell its radio network, which at the moment is the only one worth listening to… and then not always.)

Part of the turmoil at CBS has nothing to do with radio or even the company.  It is a spinoff from Viacom. And Viacom’s chairman, Sumner Redstone is about 800 years old and when he dies -- probably sooner than later -- there will be a cage match among his heirs and executives and that will affect everything associated with the company. And its most prominent spinoff.

So, maybe CBS needs to slim down a bit to show whoever wins the cage match by losing the least blood that it’s viable.

The current CBS top guy, Les Moonves, 66, is generally well thought of in the industry. Let’s hope there’s more to this than his sticking his thumb in the eye of the long-dead Paley who forced everyone at CBS except himself to retire at age 65.

Shrapnel:

--The New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade finally took down the sign “No Irish Gays Need Apply”completely down.  They stuck their toes in the water experimentally last year admitting one group.  And the devil didn’t come to claim the real housewives of Woodside and Maspeth as his own, so this year, they let everyone in.

Today’s Quote:
“I don’t want the b.s. And I don’t want the pay cut.” -- former New York Mayor Ed Koch asked during a conversation with your correspondent at a greasy spoon on Lexington Av. in 2005 if he would consider running for President.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com

© WJR 2016

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