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October 22, 2010


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Herman Humongous

I never met the man. WGN sounded better AFTER Randy left, when compared to when he arrived. He brought his own crew into Tribune, to change the stagnant mentality there. PPM changed alot of ratings in Chicago, including WGN.

Eric Rhoads

L.O.L  :-)

Pay Four Value

Class acts like Randy Michaels and Eric Rhodes are why the radio industry is regarded as one notch below 900 #s in the entertainment industry's hierarchy.

Deck Chair Rearranger

Let's talk about what's not addressed - the fact that RM brought in a whole slew of people - friends & family - who do little or nothing and take home huge salaries while the rest of the Trib employees have lost their jobs or have been in a wage freeze for going on three years. When it all shakes out and The Clear Channel gang gets walked out the door - they are going to do it with nice parachutes and current employees are going to be told that three percent pay increase they were promised this year doesn't exist.

Chuck Lontiine

Dear Eric -

Wow, what a storm of opinion.

I barely know Randy Michaels. And, barely means barely. I have no opinion of the man beyond a very short encounter.

The first, and only time I met him was with Bobby Lawrence as they showed us all the door when I was a manager for Noble's KHOW during the Jacor takeover in Denver in 1996. Frankly, even though I was making an exit; I kind of liked the way he broomed our team and re-engineered the cluster.

From there, I worked for Tribune as a manager (also, for its Denver cluster) for 3 years in the 1990's. That Tribune Company is long gone and had zero resemblance of todays Tribune under Sam Zell.

So, to a limited extent, I can under stand the hub-bub over the reported zeal with the companies iconic image in the NYT.

When I first read the New York Times piece, the first and only thought that went through my mind was what a brilliant way for the NYT Company to stab the heart of a direct newspaper competitor in Chicago and more importantly, in Los Angeles.

Michael's may have given them the sword, but I assure you the Carlos Slim Helu controled NYT's, is as fierce a competitor as Zell's attempt with Tribune.

Maybe just without the cigars...

Chuck Lontine
Marconi Media Ventures


Your defense of Randy Michaels is pathetic. Genius? Can you provide some documentation to this claim? I spent 25 years in the radio biz and am not familiar with anything that he did to put him in this category. And there is no excuse for sexual harassment...especially at his level. This guy represents everything that is wrong with radio today. Let's hope he doesn't find a way to snake back into the business.


Apologies to Elizabeth Grattan. She is not a man.


LOL! Only men are defending Randy Michaels. Misogynists of a feather flock together. Go create your own privately held company and be as immature, 'playful and rebellious,' misogynist and boorish as you like. We won't miss you.


Eric, I was at a dinner at the NAB in New Orleans years ago with Randy and his staff from the research company. We were at the famous Brennan's and he was hosting. Before the meal arrived at our table, Randy was wielding dinner rolls through the fly of his pants, asking the women at the table to "take a bite"...one actually began to cry. We were asked to leave. That kind of borish behavior seems to be the standard of his long career. It might be time that he be put to pasture, to play with his money, and stay out of the public eye and away from those that he thought humurous to bully with his twisted antics.

what ever

I guess in order to see this article for what it is, you would need to be a woman who was actually harrassed from numerous jerks in the buisness over at least two decades, kept on the low paying shifts, nights and overnights, and yes the part time weekends. The guys would whisper to each other how it was so wrong that the bitch got a job they should have had, she must be sleeping with the boss, right? You know people, this has to be the most pathetic story I have read in a very long time. It makes me sick, really. And I have not even got to the part about how Randy ruined radio for everyboy, even the guys, in order for a few greedy people to become super wealthy on wallstreet, and a bunch of narcicistic dudes doing a circle jerk about how great they feel to control employment situations of women.


Hello Eric!

The man is scum.

He was bad for radio, not good.

Who are you going to make excuses for next?

How about priests who molest children.

How much did he pay you?

Cmon already


Is the pro-Lee article next?

Cmon already

Really, Eric? What about the people driven out of the business by the behaviors? Those who lost jobs, or chose to leave that culture and then who then couldn't feed families because of this?

Just askin...

Elizabeth Grattan

You know, I'm really tired of hearing the haters slam Michaels.

Thanks Eric for reminding people that the NY Times is the *competition* and clearly forgot to be objective.

Perhaps you will appreciate my take:

(hope it is okay that I linked it, feel free to remove if not)


Steve Casey

Fascinating set of comments. To me, the overall mood expressed here is more intensely negative than those expressed after Eric's post about Lowery Mays.

Maybe some of these comments are right. But they don't seem to be from people with true first hand knowledge. I worked with Randy for about 7 years. I can speak truth.

Randy has an intellect I have rarely seen in my 40+ years in broadcasting. "Brilliant" is something he wears like most of us might wear an old sweater. It is very comfortable on him.

I'm a fairly accomplished guy. Randy didn't make me any smarter. But he made me better than I knew I could be. He is somebody who can motivate people to find ability in themselves that they don't even know is there. I found the same thing was true of Bob Pittman, who I worked for at MTV.
But there are plenty of people who simply don't want to stretch. And they all blame the other guy - including Randy - for their discomfort. They see challenges as threats. They don't ever want to be uncomfortable. No mooning in the conference room! Well, screw them. We get one frustratingly short life on this planet, and I'm pretty sure we weren't put here to simply never be offended, never be uncomfortable, and never grow. Randy would - and I assume still won't - have any of it. If you haven't been on the receiving end of a challenge from Randy that basically boils down to "be your best or get out of my way", then I don't think you're qualified to judge what he has done for people like me who deeply care about our business.

I can't wait to hear about his next adventure.

Frank Boyle

Eric: I commend you for your positive comments about randy michaels. As I read the negative comments to your article--I'm always amazed at how many perfect perfect people there are in our business. Let him cast the first stone.....Yes, Randy goes to the beat of a different drummer--guilty as charged on the publicized issues. But I found that the absolute best sales/ programming & Mgt folks were psychologically unmanageable. I loved hiring and working with them. They always were the most productive and yes, frustrating, as they broke all politically correct rules.Randy built Jacor and Clear Channel--picked the right stations and associates.No one has a morte encyclopedic knowledge of radio -tv physical facilities than he does.I hope Randy builds the Dandy Randy Radio group with all his historic panache a la Gen. george Patton.

Frank Boyle

Lou Kasman

Your premises is sophomoric. Eric, being a fan of Michaels doesn’t have anything to do with his management skills and ability that has no credential at all. The shame belongs to Zell, the board of directors and the bankruptcy court. Michaels should not have been hired to begin with. I am so surprised that the Court didn’t require the hiring of a major turn-around consulting firm such as AlixPartners who know how to turn-around major corporations. Obviously Zell didn’t know/understand what he bought. In my career consulting Radio/TV properties and groups I have found one singular thread in management, virtually none are true business people. How many have MBA’s? But in today’s world of radio, it’s like managing a group of Burger Kings so I guess it doesn’t matter.


You are kidding, aren't you? You don't really believe what you wrote, do you? You're doing this to stir the pot.

Why would you defend the indefensible?

Randy Michaels is what was WRONG with radio. He is now and pretty much has always been a jerk.

So your message is that you have to treat people, especially women, unfairly, unethically and perhaps
illegally to be innovative and creative?

Your comments demean the thousands of REAL people who can manage themselves properly who have made creative and innovative contributions, many more than Michaels ever has.

I reject the idea that you have to be a bad boy to be innovative and creative.

But Randy has certainly served a purpose. He's the poster
boy for what NOT to do. Good riddance.

Daniel P Mitchell

Like it or not life needs drama and characters to be fun. Political correct is boring. Wild is fun, free is fun, suprise is fun,laughter is fun. Take the drama Mad Men as an example. It is a Buzz and politically abdominal by 2010 standards, yet we all love to watch. Why? we are missing that today. Eric you are a genius, keep up your rants; it is good as wake up America business bird calls.

Naptown Steve

I heard Sam Zell speak at an NAB Radio Show. He told a dirty joke.
Enter Randy Michaels. Goodbye Chicago Tribune, goodbye LA Times, goodbye employee pension funds.
On this one, Eric, you don't know what you're talking about.

Fred Halligan

I can't believe what I'm reading here. Is this really a defense of the broadcast industry as some sort of boy's club? You're proud of that, Eric? Did you read the Times piece? Michaels offers a waitress, whom people at the table are familiar with, a hundred bucks to expose her breasts, and you feel the need to defend him?

The bottom line here: Randy Michaels is a pig. Pigs get slaughtered.

Jim Schlichting

Sorry Eric, you are TOTALLY wrong attempting to defend Randy Michaels.

You write, "His life at Clear Channel and then Tribune is like a soap opera. That's the Randy Michaels we know and love." Randy is a primary player in the dismantling of a viable local broadcast industry. There is nothing to love about that.

"In the pre-consolidation days, we understood that fun off the air equaled fun on the air, and that people who loved coming to work every day would make impossible things possible. Of course this behavior is unacceptable in the corporate world." Are you serious Eric? Responsibility on the air, not fun on the air, is what was and would again be successful in local broadcasting. It may come as a surprise to you that there are some local radio stations still operating in the black because of their community commitment.

How off the wall you are with, "The only way survival is possible is if the board is willing to stand up to constant criticism from those who don't understand the playful effectiveness and rebellious nature of Randy Michaels." Has it even come close to entering your mind that there are broadcast company boards who value and honor the traditional and legal obligations of local broadcasting.?

There you go Eric, "The final straw, of course, goes back to the stories the press likes to pick up -- the reported card parties with strippers, the supposed sexual harassment, the alleged distribution of pornography. It's true that those things have no place in business and they place a lot of people in difficult positions with their bosses and fellow employees. Does it actually go on? " Trying to plant a seed of doubt to justify your loyalty and admiration of Randy Michaels is nothing more than bottom-feeding journalism. You have the journalistic capability to produce confirmation or denial of what the "Michaels culture" has been. Why not use your integrity to make an accurate statement?

And you say, "Though you may disagree with Randy's over-the-top behavior, you can't deny his genius in business." I'm not sure what dictionary or standards you use but leaving a trail of stations that are damaged goods and calling it "genius in business" has no basis in reality.

Sorry Eric....Those of us who did some rather impressive radio broadcasting over the last 40 years can recognize Randy Michaels for what he is. How can you be so totally wrong?

Paul Rusling

As a Brit in England I know of Randy's exploits only through the trades and occasional gossip - but I do know that our dearest radio business NEEDS people like Randy. In Europe, where the business is really stagnating, we have always relied on visionaries and entrepreneurs who think outside the box to rescue radio from the doldrums. But now the whole global radio business needs to give free spirits their head and let them lead radio into a brighter future. Please corporate radio - take a chance, and give EVERYONE a break.

Eric Rhoads

Perhaps this read incorrectly because I had been also referencing Clear Channel.... very aware Tribune is privately held. Its the if the board is willing to stand up to constant criticism from those who
dont understand the playful effectiveness and rebellious nature which is critical in the private environment. As I stated before Zell knew what he was getting but perhaps his board did not.

Tony Gastronolis

Perhaps he's a better fit in a privately held company, where the pressures of Wall Street perceptions won't plague him. The only way survival is possible is if the board is willing to stand up to constant criticism from those who don't understand the playful effectiveness and rebellious nature of Randy Michaels.

the Tribune is privately held

Eric Rhoads

Donna: Let me be perfectly clear. I am not defending RM when it comes to the alleged issues of sexual innuendo. Ive worked at stations where it goes on and it has absolutely no place in the world of business. RM is a brilliant guy but it appears that this is his Achilles heel.

Donna L. Halper

Does sexual harassment go on in broadcasting? Yes. I know firsthand, having both seen it and lived through it. I find it depressingly familiar when somebody defends (or rationalizes) the actions of a Randy Michaels.

Eric, I could tell you stories of my own experiences during my 35+ years in the biz, but the saddest part is the men who did it were usually defended, and the women who were victimized were often got told to keep quiet and be a team player. Those who spoke out got labelled as bitches and couldn't find work anywhere after that.

Randy learned a valuable lesson during his years of treating women like sex objects-- there will always be other guys who stick up for you, Randy, and nobody will believe the women who complain.

Eric, I go back years with you and I love you dearly, but trust me, the attitude of many guys out there have NOT changed. Some guys have learned to be more subtle, while others have not. I worked at stations where I not only did not get equal pay for equal work, but I saw my male colleagues making sexual (and sexist) remarks about women; at one station, the guys gathered in the conference room to watch porn. And I personally was asked (or, in one case, told) to do certain things (use your imagination) if I wanted a particular job. I refused. And I have no regrets about refusing. But why should I have been put into that situation in the first place?

Sexism in broadcasting is a conversation nobody wants to have, because the people who went through it have nobody to advocate for them. And THAT is the saddest part of the story.

Michael Taylor

Excuse Meee... Let's be very freakin' honest here... Randy is one of the latter day saints of the biz... screw you on your vox trax complaint, that happened with the Hicks Bros (gee Tom sorry 'bout losing the Rangers to Nolan) long before Randy... he did open more than any other CEO (since the folks at Metromedia) to encourage talent to strive and succeed. The man is a massive legend alongside the folks from the 60's & 70's... THANKS RANDY FOR ALL YOU GAVE US. You were one of the last REAL radio men!!!!!!

Steven Barth

There is, in fact no defense for Randy Michaels or Sam Zell. Sam put a very small amount of his own money into Tribune and gained control by diverting cash from the employee stock option plan (ESOP) and getting large banks to back him. It is well documented that Mr Zell disrespected Tribune employees from day 1 in public statements and comments made during private employee gatherings shortly after he took control. He further disrespected employees by appointing a former shock jock to lead a stayed and serious journalistic organization. While it is true that the Tribune and many of its employees might have taken themselves a bit too seriously, using employee money to bring in a shock jock mentality never made sense from a business point of view or an organizational transformation point of view. Mr Michaels may be a brilliant business executive and I am not arguing that he isn't. However, one doesn't gain respect when one doesn't earn respect.

Not Impressed

And while we're at it, let's all thank Mr. Michaels for all of the great things he's done for radio. Downsizing, voice tracking from other markets, killing local radio, homogenized bland programming, and turning radio into an industry that serves investors and not the listeners or clients. Hip hip hooray. Nice shill job for Michaels Eric.

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