Sunday, December 18, 2011

It’s Not Too Early to Ask Some Hard(line) Questions – Part 4(a)

Some Confessors are tired of this series.  Sorry.  There will be two more after this.  This one will address a topic everyone seems to want to comment on, so here goes. 

The consensus, with which I agree, is that listeners want Mike to re-up; that Mike wants to re-up; and that Cumulus will probably get the job done.   In fact, I think it’s overwhelmingly likely that Mike will sign a new contract.  

[For those of you who believe there is no chance Mike will leave and/or have no interest in a hypothetical to the contrary, stop reading now and spare me the comments asking why I'm wasting my time and yours on this.]

 But let’s play a little what-if. 

What if Mike decides he’s had enough, that he has enough bank, and it’s time to – hell, I have no idea what he’d do if he weren’t broadcasting.  I also agree that it seems inconceivable that he would move to a competitor.  Hard to catch lightning in a bottle; even harder to pour lightning from one bottle into another.  

But never mind about the circumstances.  Let’s assume Mike doesn’t return.  Whence The Ticket?

A number of commenters have expressed the thought that BaD would move to the Hardline’s slot, and Corby/Danny would – well, no one’s quite sure.   I don’t know if there is any evidence for this.   It does make some sense; I can understand why some think this is the natural progression of things.

I’m skeptical.

Put yourself in the position of the CTO who has to make a decision of what to do if Mike leaves.  He’s (could be a she, I guess) looking at his lineup and the ratings.  He sees a boffo Number 1 BaD in afternoons, and a boffo Number 1 Hardline in PM Drive.  Been that way for years.  Loyal audiences who love things the way they are.   He’s losing one guy on one show.  A real important guy, it’s true, but one who some would say is not even the dominant influence on that show, and one whose interest seems to flag from time to time.  I don’t agree with either of those as the show is currently conducted, but that thought is abroad.

Which is the least risky thing for the CTO to do? 

Possibility (1):   Uproot these two ratings-busters – half of the programming day – and hope that what would be new audiences (at least to some extent) for each show would stick with the new show in the time period in which they were accustomed to tuning in; put Corby (and Danny?) into what is (possibly unfairly) regarded as a less glamorous time slot, assuming that the only thing that happened was that they would just do a simple switcheroo, which is itself by no means certain.  That is, moving BaD to drive wouldn’t necessarily dictate that the remaining Hard Guys would be placed in afternoons.  And if they didn’t move Corby/Danny to afternoons, then they have to come up with a new show for afternoons, and figure out what to do with Corby, who is unlikely to be overjoyed at any move at all, with attendant political problems in-house.  And that same CTO may be casting a nervous eye at late mornings and wondering what Norm is thinking about his own retirement. 

Let’s think about these audiences for a minute.  True it is that many P1’s like both BaD and The Hardline and would be happy enough to listen to Bob and Dan and Donovan during drive.  But surely the daytime audience is not entirely congruent with the drive audience.    It’s clear from the commenters on this site that both shows excite some fairly negative feelings.  Some folks, who knows what percentage, have a clear preference between the two shows, and you’ll be asking those people to listen to a show they’re disinclined to like in the first instance.  I have heard that BaD has many female listeners – would they like a Corby/Danny show as much as BaD (if Corby/Danny settled there)?   And BaD is much sportiser than The Hardline – will the people tuning in to The Ticket looking for more pop-culture/guy talk after a hard day’s work enjoy SportsSturm as much?  Dan’s acerbity?  HOCKEY? 

And we haven’t considered the host’s own preference.  Bob has an admirable attachment to his growing family, and he’s making a name for himself as a hockey broadcaster – how would a drive assignment affect those things?  

You can brush off any of these considerations and possibly be absolutely right.  But remember, you’re a CTO.  You have to answer all of these questions in a positive way in order for this move to be comfortable.   


Possibility 2:    Find a replacement for Mike on The Hardline.  I tend to agree with those who say that a Corby/Danny-only Hardline would probably not work, much as I like both performers.   Impossible to find a replacement, you say?  Certainly – Mike is irreplaceable if you want the New Hardline to sound exactly like the Current Hardline.  But freshening up the sound of The Hardline and keeping these shows in place might well be preferable to our risk-averse CTO.

In this connection, let me hearken back to something I said about White Elephant Day.  I said I was listening for something and that I heard it.   What I was listening for, and what I heard, was Corby doing a very good job as the primary host for the morning show.   He was smooth, he put aside the naughty-undergrad persona, and he was entirely credible as a more mature-sounding broadcaster.  Bits were good.   I think Corby’s range is somewhat underrated and I think he could work well with any number of different types of partners, including one who wasn’t as tolerant (and encouraging) as Mike is of Corby’s snakier offerings.

One last thing:  RaGE hasn’t made a dent in The Hardline’s popularity.  But it’s still there.  We can think what we want about the quality of Richie/Greggo’s offerings, but our fictional CTO might think:   Which would be more likely to cause people to experiment with punching in 105.3:   Corby/Danny with some plus-ones or a new co-host, where Hardline-curious listeners would at least tend to stick for awhile, even if they didn’t fall in love?  Or BaD Radio plopped into Hardline country?

Don’t think about these questions as a listener – think about them as a CTO whose career is on the line.  

Under Possibility (2), who might join Corby and Danny?  I have a couple of candidates in mind, neither one of which the Nation is likely to endorse, but I’ll save that for Part 4(b).

*     *     *
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The Plainsman said...

Promise: I wrote the above before I heard the AP-recommended clip on Bob Sturm talking about being outside his comfort zone:

"Noon to 3 is a very nice place to be," he says. Interesting.

Thanks, AP.

Shaggy said...

How about Bob, Dan, and Corby doing drive-time with Cirque or Soul Patch + Donnie?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Do you have a link regarding Mike's contract? I thought he just signed a new one a couple of years ago.

This is all pointless.

Anonymous said...

I guess the last Anon neglected to read the Plainsman's fine print disclaimer/warning...

If you're going to post a bitch and moan/told ya so/gotcha comment, at least bother to read the entire post before you make said comment, ya dummy.

Anonymous said...

"I guess the last Anon neglected to read the Plainsman's fine print disclaimer/warning... "

Which one? The one that says, "If you're reading this, and don't want to read it, stop reading?"

Come on, man!

Anonymous said...

This disclaimer:

"[For those of you who believe there is no chance Mike will leave and/or have no interest in a hypothetical to the contrary, stop reading now and spare me the comments asking why I'm wasting my time and yours on this.]
But let’s play a little what-if."

So...You're given the thrust of the post followed by the warning and request. But you still kept reading anyway. And I'll bet that you've read previously related posts, so you knew what the post was going to be about...but you kept reading anyway. And then you made the whiny, bitchy comment.

Anonymous said...

As to Bob's comments about his comfort zone, etc.: While they might be revealing where Bob's psychological makeup is concerned, keep in mind that he did in fact do/still does all those non-comfort zone things. After a period of time, what was once uncomfortable becomes comfortable. Also, Bob is smart and is careful with his words (some might say too careful, as in his "care" he often arrives at his statement in serpentine fashion). Of course he's going to say "noon to 3 is a very nice place to be." That's not to say that he doesn't mean it; I'm positive he does. But it doesn't necessarily imply that he has no other aspirations. Within that same exchange with Ralph, Bob also says working the booth for a hockey team has been his lifelong dream. And if anyone heard Ralph jokingly-or not-flat out say Bob's not going to be getting a job in that particular industry, Bob went silent for a second. You could tell that Bob didn't enjoy hearing that from Ralph. Boy howdy, listening to Ralph unfettered like that really brings home all the stories about his ADD and obsessive/compulsive/addictive personality. He's all over the place. (I haven't listened to the link provided, so I don't know how much of the segment was posted.)

birq said...

As far as possibility 2 goes, I see several possibilities for a Mike replacement. There are 3 ways that I see they could go with it.

1) They could promote someone from JV. I think it would have to be someone of a sportsier bent like Stu, Newberry or Scot Harrison, with Scot being the front runner in my mind; he's sportsy but can veer off into guy talk easily enough, and has the mentality and personality of a show runner.

2) They could try to woo one of the bigger name go-to fill-in guys like Followill (not likely) or Rhads (please, god, no). I can't think of someone that would fit well that would actually do it. I really like Followeezy, but he's a much better +1, and there's no way he'd give up the Mavs gig. I can take Rhads for about 2 minutes at a time before I need an hour away from him. I can't see him being a good fit at all.

3) They could bring in someone from another market. The CTO have lots of contacts around the country and could open the search nation-wide. Assuming they know what they're looking for.

However, Plainsman, your entire article is based on the assumption that the CTO in question knows what (s)he is doing in the first place. From what I've seen and from what I read in Full Disclosure, the overlords in the past have taken a trial-and-error approach, brought in consultants, or just made blind moves. I don't think the CTO have any better of a handle on what's going on, and as I've said before, I think they've just taken the admirable "if it ain't broke" tack. I don't have a lot of faith that the CTO will make the best move for the station and the listener when the time comes.

Cumulus Employee said...

I think it's funny so many of you refer to the Program Directors as "CTO". There is no board of decision makers glaring down from high above. It's just Catlin (PD) and to a much lesser extent Rich Phillips (APD). If something really big needed to be decided like a contract or major legal problem the market VP Dan Bennett would be involved.

Also I think too many of you speculate way too much when it's not really needed. Much of it is a pretty sizeable stretch when it comes to 'future movement' when it involves the air staff.

This place is good for a giggle.

Anonymous said...

Giggle away, Cumulus employee-if indeed you really are. So what if we patrons (and the proprietor) of MTC like to speculate, even wildly so? What I find giggle worthy is the person that feels the need to comment on something they judge to be inane. Neither hurtful nor slanderous nor hateful words/ideas are bandied about on this blog. So it's not as if people like yourself are battling the hateful or hurtful ignorance of others. Furthermore the subject matter here is pretty lighthearted and uncontroversial. Again, nothing that ought to provoke snark, "know it all," or just plain jerky comments. I just don't get it. I don't get people like you. Giggle.

Anonymous said...

You all should re-read what "Cumulus Employee" said. This blog has been good at times, but lately it's become ridiculous with pointless and baseless speculation.

(And I'll save one of you the time asking why I bother reading if I don't like it. Like I said, it's good at times, and occasionally, there's some insight. I mostly stick around for ap's comments and when an actual Ticket employee chimes in.)

Anonymous said...

Yeah. You said it last Anonymous. Who is in fact "Cumulus Employee" and the same Anon who keeps posting the same know-it-all comments. Go home, troll boy/girl/it.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm... is this Anon/Cumulus Employee none other than C. Millen?????

DinosaurMex said...

No way is Millen trolling this site. No way. No how. It's just some schmoe who has an opinion. Plain and simple. I don't think the Plainsman needs someone coming to his defense each and every time somebody says the site or its commenters are crazy or wasting their time.

Anonymous said...

"I don't think the Plainsman needs someone coming to his defense each and every time somebody says the site or its commenters are crazy or wasting their time."


The Plainsman said...

Hmm. Been out of town. This thread seems to have devolved into a commentary on the site. OK.

(1) Always appreciate a gracious defense.

(2) This "What's on Mike's desk?" series has gone on for awhile, and I've got two more segs in the hopper. It may be boring some. But I would ask you to remember: We did not make this subject up. Mike himself suggested, on the air and during a featured special broadcast, that this coming February might see the conclusion of his association with The Ticket. It created a furor, so much of one that he was required to throw water on it in the days following. His departure would be seismic. February is approaching. It is absolutely legitimate to speculate about what's coming up, on a single-subject site like this one.

(3) OHMIGOD. Just heard Norm wish a Merry Christmas to Carter Albrecht, having just admired a return-from-break tune of his.

(4) Yes, I don't have perfect information and zero inside information and my speculations undoubtedly suffer accordingly. However: I very infrequently hear from Ticket personnel via email -- not anonymous, these are guys using their real names. Here's what they tell me about this site: (i) they enjoy it and appreciate its tone; (ii) anonymous guys stating or implying that they are Ticket insiders are usually full of crap; and (iii) the site is frequently on the money when it tries to read between the lines. (NOTE TO JEFFCAT: No Ticket employee regularly feeds me inside dope. Speaks well for in-house morale and discipline.)

(5) Having said that, I'm sure that Cumulus Employee is probably right that Messrs. Catlin & Bennett are responsible for making most major decisions. But folks, I am here to tell you: When deciding whether to pay Mike a million bucks a year -- don't laugh, we're going to explore this topic soon -- that little budget line item is going to go even further upstairs. Cumulus is a public company and believe me, decisions like this at least get reported up and discussed beyond Dallas. If C.E. doesn't know that, then he or she must be a pretty low-level C.E.

(6) Never a problem to transmit criticism of this site.

Josh's broken groin said...

I heard the Norm/Carter stop down this morningg too..then I tweeted Sirois..very tense.

How does Norm not know who Carter is/was? As tight as the good ship Ticket is, I find this very interesting.

Good Site TP, I enjoy popping in from time to time. Stay Hard Brotha!

Anonymous said...

DinosaurMex might have a point -to some extent- where defending criticism of this site is concerned. Just because someone takes issue with MTC, doesn't mean that said criticism is invalid or out of bounds. However, I feel that either there is an actual Cumulus employee who is upset with some of the things said here because they pertain to s/he, or there is a wiseacre troll trying to stir things up (like all trolls do). If someone is going to come on here, continually whine, act like a know-it-all, and possibly misrepresent who s/he is, then s/he ought to be addressed. What is obvious is that the Anonymous who is always bitching the same storyline and the CE are the same person. You don't have to be a forensic's expert to figure that one out. It's evident in the writing. Hint: both the original Anon/CE comments and the follow up comments in support of Anon/CE always use the same syntax patterns.

Merry Christmas to all, see ya next year, out.

Anonymous said...

"Hint: both the original Anon/CE comments and the follow up comments in support of Anon/CE always use the same syntax patterns."

Not that you'll believe this, but I'm one of the original criticizers-in-chief (I'm responsible for the "yawn" post and the "Come on Man" post), and I'm not CE. I know some of you just wont accept this, but there are at least TWO readers with criticism for MTC. Probably a lot more, considering the ridiculous lengths our host has been going as of late to baselessly stir things up.

DinosaurMex said...

C'mon. I defended you before, but now methinks the humaneth protest too much. Maybe the Defender Anonymous has a point. Whatevs.