(1) Mike has earned the trust of P1's for honesty and speaking truth to Cumulus. So I would propose that our first thought -- not our only one, but our first one -- is to take him at his word. The problem, of course, is that there have been two words: The campfire prediction of a February 2012 departure, and the showgram denial of any truth to it. A rather adamant denial, and one that rang true to my ears. Added to that is that the first was uttered under circumstances of fatigue, alcohol, and hypnotically dancing flames, and the second in the cleansing light of professional reality. So I am more than 50% inclined to hold with those who say -- as someone did on The Musers this morning -- that both Mike and Norm will have to have their necrotic fingers pried from the microphone before they go.
(2) How much over 50%, I'm not entirely sure. I heard the replay of his campfire remarks for the first time this morning on The Musers. The "February" statement is not what got my attention; it was what he said about -- hell, he said it in his usual orotund, circular fashion, but it was to the effect that the February date was what everyone who had been a part of the general discussion was believing. (I haven't gone looking for tape on this -- anyone who remembers his phrasing, please advise.) Whatever it was, I had the impression that he was not talking about the people sitting around that campfire, but other people -- The CumuloTicket Overlords. This suggests, contrary to my point (1), that this is more serious than Mike is now claiming.
(3) Can we reconcile points (1) and (2)? Maybe. At this point, please click on this sentence and read the first few paragraphs of this article. It is (ironically) Richie Whitt's Sportatorium article, dated February 13, 2009, on Mike's new contract with Cumulus. (Note Richie's tip of the hat to The UnTicket.) His old contract would have been up on February 20, 2009. I suggest that that was a three-year contract, and that it expires on February 20, 2012. I would further suggest that Mike has already been talking with the CTO's about what is going to happen on February 21. Consider also another clue that the Whitt article gives us -- since Mike was considering skipping to The Fan, either his old contract did not have a noncompetition clause in it, or it was a very short one -- six months max. Suggesting further that if Mike's agent/attorney was on the ball, his present contract probably doesn't have one, either. Meaning that Mike has some cards to play in negotiating a new deal if he wants to keep broadcasting, as I'm betting he does.
And negotiating may be exactly what he's doing. It explains his seemingly contradictory references to departing and staying. Just a little something to terrify the CTO's, and a little something to make them feel better -- but not a whole lot better.
|Used without permission of The (Incomparable) UnTicket|
(4) On a related topic -- everyone around that fire had had a few as well. Someone asked Mike if he was contemplating retirement, or going elsewhere. Mike didn't answer (to my recollection, at least not coherenly), and no one pushed him. Somewhere along the line a jolt of electricity penetrated the hydrocarbonic haze in that group, and they realized they were not only being warmed by a fire, they were playing with it.
(5) Here's another fun fact for you Confessors: It looks like Corby's contract might well be co-terminal with Mike's. Clicking on this sentence will take you to Robert Wilonsky's Unfair Park article of February 19, 2009, announcing Corby's new contract. Suggesting that Corby's fortunes can indeed by tied to Mike's.
Now those of you of a conspiratorial bent may recall that Corby did not show up at the Saturday night bacchanalia. I am prepared to be simultaneously laughed-at and roundly condemned for tossing out the suggestion that maybe Corby knew the topic of "jeez, what will we all do after The Ticket?" was going to come up, and maybe he crept off to snuggle with his bottle of Woodford Reserve to let Mike toss off his "February" tease without being called upon to give his reaction.
Do I really think it's that calculated? Uh -- no, no, I actually don't think it happened that way. Just having a spot of fun.
Also, note that both the Whitt and Wilonsky articles state that these are "long-term contracts" guaranteeing The Hardline's survival in its present form "for years to come." Would they say that about a three-year deal? Sure. Especially if Mike and Corby were about to fly the coop, they would have been in a position to bargain for a shorter deal if they thought the showgram was going to maintain its popularity so they could do another deal sooner rather than later. Pretty good bet, I'd say. (Unlike pro athletes, they don't have to worry about injuries shortening their career -- although considering the Ticket-wide sporting contests and stuff like the Campout, query.)
(6) Consider Danny's position. Most likely without a contract. Almost certainly tragically underpaid for what he brings to the signal. A huge contributor and multi-talented, I wouldn't be shocked if he were highly recruited around town. His status may well be an element of Mike's calculation as to his own future.
So there are a few thoughts. I can assure Confessors I am utterly without inside or industry sources on this (on pretty much everything, actually). As a result, this article is quite possibly preposterous in every particular.
One works with the clues one has. Hey, I was right about Lake Mingus, for awhile.
Cue Vanderjagt drops again.