Monday, December 12, 2011

It's Not Too Early to Ask Some Hard(line) Questions -- PART 3

After ascertaining that we like Mike  (LINK) and that Mike wants to keep broadcasting (LINK), we were left with the question:  What does the CTO think?

[CTO ("Cumulo-Ticket Overlords") can be singular, plural, or a synecdoche (i.e., a singular indicating the plural, like "P1" to refer to all P1's).  It may take a singular or plural verb, as the spirit strikes me.  Some Confessors would prefer that I not use it.  Sorry.  I do care what the Nation thinks.  I don't mind criticism of this site's habits.  I just need some shorthand to refer to management generally.  I could say "management" but it's too .  .  .  generic and robotic.]

A rational CTO, one would think, would understand the centrality of Mike to the success of The Hardline, and, in some ways, to The Ticket as a whole, as he is its most prominent public face.  One would think that the responsible CTO would put aside his or her animosity towards Mike and make him a reasonable offer and secure his services for as long as possible.

Not the CTO
But that's not a certainty.

The first thing that's not a certainty is that the CTO is rational.  I'm not in the industry but some years ago I gave some thought to buying a small radio station and I started to follow industry news.  I was amazed at some of the absolutely idiotic personnel decisions that station and company management would make regarding on-air personnel, TV and radio.  The urge to fiddle with success to justify one's job, compensation, and self-image must be overwhelming, because time after time station and network executives would make on-air personnel changes that any casual viewer/listener could have told him/her were destined for catastrophe. 

Reminds me of sports, come to think of it.  I followed a football team once that hired the consensus hottest coach hire in the business, a guy everyone wanted.  Guy comes in and proceeds to put half the defense in positions they'd never played before (hyperbole), and instituted an offense that was absolutely guaranteed not to make first downs (not hyperbole).  You knew, you just knew, that this guy had been grossly overrated and he knew it, and was trying to overcompensate by making counterintuitive moves that he was praying would work out and would support his earlier genius press clippings.  Uh, no.

So while I have had more than one occasion to say nice things about the CTO (example: LINK ), it is by no means impossible that someone who hasn't had a career bump in awhile might be thinking that they will be the one to save Cumulus Mike's salary and start the dominoes falling among those damned high-and-mighty on-air guys who need to be taken down a notch or two anyway and who need to know that everyone is expendable, and with the resulting revolutionary programming changes for which I will take credit The Ticket will achieve even greater glory.  It can happen.  There are men -- and women -- out there who think this way.  The further they are away from day-to-day broadcasting, the more they think that way.   And the hell of it is, after they ruin a broadcast property, they find another job. 

Now, I think it is unlikely here.  The CTO have for the most part kept hands off the successful formula developed very early on in The Ticket's history (for which, I am guessing, Mike was something of a template).  But I have seen it happen in major markets with high-profile local programming.

That coach found another job too, come to think of it.  With the same results.

Here's another thing we don't know:

How big a pain in the ass Mike is to his supervisors.

We love the guy, but there comes a point even with the biggest stars at which insubordination tips the scales away from perceived value.  (See, e.g., Charlie Sheen.  Yes, I know 2.5 Men isn't as good or as popular without him, but the point is -- Charlie's gone.)

This site occasionally hears from persons who give some sign of being informed insiders, or with access to informed insiders, who say that the animosity between Mike and CTO is real.  But my very uninformed guess is that Mike's not near an asshole enough off the air to suggest the wisdom of nonrenewing his contract.  I doubt he talks much to any managers, including America's Catman, and while he may not listen to them, either, I doubt that the actual friction in the executive suite(s) is at a point where anyone is feeling the need to rid the joint of a temperamental performer.   They might prefer if he'd read the memos, but his failure to do so isn't killing camaraderie or morale.  It may be a bad influence on Corby -- Danny, I doubt, cares very much -- but that's like John Dillinger being a bad influence on Baby Face Nelson. 

And as we said last time:  Mike has toned down the badmouthing of management, and he's a very loyal and reliable broadcaster.  Sponsors like hiring him to do recorded and live spots.  (Those E. Smith ads are classics.)   The CTO is going to break bread with the guy, irrespective of their irritation with his acting as though they don't exist.

So where are we with our irresponsible and rude speculations?  We want Mike; we think Mike wants to stay; we assume the CTO wants him to stay.

A lot of verbiage for not-very-controversial conclusions.  But we have to ask.

What's next in our series on What's On Mike's Desk?  One of Confessors' favorite topics.

*     *     *

Follow Your Plainsman on Twitter:  @Plainsman1310


birq said...

Not that this question doesn't interest me, but what I'm more curious about is the current development with Clear Channel's consolidation of local stations. In case you're not aware, Clear Channel has announced that they're going to get rid of dozens of stations' local presence and just simulcast a signal originating from one of the coasts. I don't know which ones in our area are CC stations, but I assume that the Kiss 106s of the world will lose their local voices. Not that there's a lot to distinguish them from market to market, but there are local personalities that people know and recognize.

What interests me about this is how Cumulus will view it. If CC sees success and cost savings with this, what will Cumulus do with its local voices? I don't think The Ticket is in danger of being East Coast-ified, but what if Cumulus sees The Ticket as the leader and the template in its talk radio stable? Could the CTO decide that The Ticket needs to be its sports talk voice of the nation, and what would that mean for the content of the station?

birq said...

Also, since he's "The Catman of the Americas", I think it's technically correct to refer to him as "Americas' Catman".

The Plainsman said...


With thanks.

Anonymous said...

A lot of FM stations already do this. Clear Channel has been doing this for years in various markets, especially with the KISS format. There's a KISS station in every major market with exactly the same playlist as the one here. The radio personalities do what's called "voice track". Major market talent does this for small markets all the time. It's quick, it's easy and costs next to nothing. Music playlists are often loaded days in advance, the talent can then log into the system, see what is coming up and pre-record their stopsets. Look up local information online, like concerts, area events and voila!!! You have a somewhat generic sounding yet centric enough voice to pass off as a locality. It's already happened here, look at the stations that have Seacrest, John Tesh, Delilah. Those are just the well known ones.
FM music radio is a completely different scenario than AM talk radio which is a completely different beast than AM sports talk radio. Look at the AM talk stations in town. Almost all of them are 75-100% nationally syndicated with the occasional station having a local morning show or night time program with the "pay for play" type programs on the weekend.
With sports talk radio, there will always be a local desire for the local angle on local teams. Especially in a market with teams in all four major sports. All the CTO's have to do is look at the success that ESPN is having with a mix of national/local sports talk and compare it to the success of the Ticket. It's this way in every market that has both an ESPN affiliate and a local sports talk affiliate. The desire and need for local sports opinion is much greater than the national scene. It just wouldn't make sense for the CTO's to decide to start syndicating The Ticket. They would lose success here in this major market and attain mediocre success in other smaller markets.

East Texas P1 said...

Saw a small article in Saturday's DMN about radio ratings. Don't recall that it had #'s but it basically stated that the Ticket continues to dominate.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about all of this Rhyner speculation. Especially 3 lengthy posts worth of it. It's your blog and your time so do what you will. But don't you think that Rhyner has been at this game long enough to know how to have proper relationships with his bosses? Maybe it's all an on air bit? I tend to see it that way at least. I know there's been comments here from supposed insiders that tell of Rhyner's testy relationship with the Cumulus higher ups, but what does that really mean? I think we all know that 98% of 'insider' comments are bogus, no matter the blog. My guess is that Rhyner's going nowhere anytime soon. He has a perfectly fine relationship with his bosses. And that what you hear on the radio as far as disgruntledness goes is a bit.

Anonymous said...


Seriously, dude; it's a good topic. I don't know why your ego has to ruin it.

P.S. before the obligatory "don't read this blog if you don't like it, jerk" posts: I read it. If the blog host can contain his ego long enough to write a coherent post and foment discussion, I will engage in a civil and constructive manner. In case of something like this (Norm voice) "abortion," I shrug my shoulders and attempt to remind the host and readers that this could be a much, much better place.

Anonymous said...

So I take it you're some sort of masochist? Here's (perhaps) a new one for you: Since you believe yourself to know quality--and I assume also how to produce it--why don't you start your own kick a blog, chief? Or if that's too much work for you, why don't you post a constructive comment that sheds light on the topic the way you think it ought to be done?

It's just a (constructive) thought...

Anonymous said...

LOL. Plainsman posting anonymously.

Anonymous said...

Do you know what it means for someone's ego to get in the way of something? Or for an ego to be considered "big"? Please give a specific example of the Plainsman's writing that you feel is egotistical (specific citation, please). Perhaps then we all can understand what your "ego" comments mean.

Anonymous said...

Nope. Not the Plainsman, pal.

The Plainsman said...

I LOL too, but no, it wasn't me. Could have been, though, you can kind of see the ego peeking through.

But Anonymous's (5 back) posting puzzled me a little.

He says "tl;dr". But then -- he/she did read it.

And I mean -- jeez, I'm sneaking up on 400 posts on this site. Hits and page views continue to grow steadily. How likely does Anon think it is that I'm going to change my style, long-winded and sesquipedalian though it may be? Do I do this in part to feed my own voracious ego? You betcha! I've been doing it since I had two hits a day. Just hoping readers can have some fun with it too, come along for the whole goofy Ticket ride. And I'm gratified to observe that the commenters on this site just keep getting better and better. Some really perceptive and well-written stuff. So some can fight through the ego and enjoy.

Having said that, I never mind criticism, however harsh, that is no worse than PG-13/R-rated.

And finally -- thanks to 5 Anon back for the kind words on choice of topic.

ap said...

I'm going to break up this tension for a quick moment with a semi-rhetorical question:

How much do you think the internet stream outage has cost Cumulus/the Ticket? The stream has been down since noon on Sunday, which means no Cowboys pregame, no Cowboys postgame, and no day-after analysis. Companies like Amazon in the datacenter business pride themselves on quotes like "If we're down for one minute, our client stands to lose x dollars". Just curious if Cumulus has a similar metric, since the outage apparently affected a large cluster of stations.

From August to September, the number of commercials played by the ticket goes up by at least 50%. Furthermore, it stands to reason that the day after Cowboy games would see the largest increase in non-DFW listeners, hence stream listeners. Granted, the internet commercials seem much different than those that are disseminated electromagnetically, but still, losing an entire day of internet ads and listeners must cost something, no?

"You just lost a listener"

Anonymous said...

Ty Walker
tywalkerticket Ty Walker
Not that it matters at this time of night, but the Ticket stream seems to be working again
12 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply

Mitchell George said...

Stream was working at 6:30 AM but as of Muse in the News time its down again.

birq said...

That's an interesting question, ap. I'd be curious to see what kind of ad revenue they get from the stream, and what kind of make-good policy they have for missed ads.

Anonymous said...

"How much do you think the internet stream outage has cost Cumulus/the Ticket? "

Nothing. They'll do a bunch of make-goods.

"He says "tl;dr". But then -- he/she did read it."

I read the first third or so before I realized it was the same self-serving drivel we see here much too often.

Truth is, then I went back to read it entirely, because I feel awful criticizing something I haven't given a true chance. But I found it was even worse than I thought, and no - I couldn't finish it. It was that Z-ing horrible.

The Plainsman said...

Um . . . in what sense does "doing a bunch of make-goods" not represent a "cost" to Cumulus?

Anonymous, you've lost a reader.

Anonymous said...

The last Anonymous is a troll. H/she appears to be the same troll that stops by here from time to time, posting what h/she thinks are snarky, smart critiques. The troll will crawl back under its rock in a few days time...only to return a couple of months down the road. I hope you've had fun, troll. I will leave you with this: you're not half as clever as you think you are: you're criticisms are often bizarre and confusing; you seem to not understand the meaning of certain words (e.g., egotistical) that are central to your criticisms; and when you actually do read something you disagree with, you often appear to misunderstand it. I'm only getting started here...

charlie0712 said...

I don't know about the Rhyner thing but I hope he doesn't go anywhere.

BUT, since I live in Chattanooga, TN and obviously can't turn a radio on to listen I rely on TuneIn on my phone to listen all day. I do record on my home computer but that doesn't help during the day. It is killing me not being able to listen Monday and now it's gone down again and I'm lost.

Does this have something to do with the upcoming move? I know they said they got a virus, but I have a feeling that they have more listeners that use the stream than traditional radio. Am I wrong thinking that?

ap said...

One thing we noticed over at TheUnTicket - the stream quality has been upgraded from 32kbps mono to 48kpbs stereo (CD quality) during the outage. The last time the stream was CD quality was when the Cowboys were losing 44-6 to the Eagles, and when they downgraded to 32kbps mono, the stream went down in a similar fashion - took them a few weeks before it finally stabilized. Nobody really noticed back then because it happened during the holiday season.

Perhaps they simply took the opportunity to upgrade the stream while the computer was on the fritz. They haven't worked out buffering issues though, and I'm hoping they'll also normalize and compress the dynamic range of the audio - it seems like Jub is way too tiny and Junior is shredding my earbuds.

charlie0712 said...

I had noticed George being very quiet and Junior being normal or a little louder than normal. I think they have the same thing though not as noticable with Rhynes being low and corby a little loud. Whatever the case I hope they get it worked out during this dry dock.

By the way, are Mike and Cash going to fill in any of this dry dock? If not, who is going to fill all the time?

Anonymous said...

on thanksgiving day it was the sirois show and the soul patch so I bet we'll get those.