Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Radical Proposal on Ticket Tech

Okay, I think we've established that Ticket tech is truly bad. Or, at the very best, not appropriate for The Ticket.

And many thanks to the Anon, obviously either a Ticket, Cumulus, or radio insider who's picked up the news somewhere, for his authoritative disquisition on the OpX system.

What I can't figure out is -- why?  I suppose it's a word that Mike uses -- "leverage."  The audience is the biggest and best, it won't stop listening, Cumulus makes enough money with it, so why improve (1) signal, (2) remotes, (3) in-studio tech, (4) Internet stream?   Small expenditure, big revenue.  Leverage.  What's not to like, as a CTO?

Now, let us confess (of course):  We can hear the station.  It broadcasts.  We like it.  The negligent IT and tech administration doesn't render it unlistenable most of the time.

But the persistent failure to fix problems that have existed for years is not only disrespectful to the listeners, it's degrading to the amazing talent that has assembled there and remained over the years (for which the CTO, let us further confess, deserves some unknowably small amount of credit).

Which leads me to a question that I was going to address back before I gleaned that Mike had signed his contract without the benefit of the conclusion of my highly speculative series awhile back on Mike's new deal:

What does the CTO care about?  Well, I would think they would care about keeping their talent, even if they don't care about giving them appropriate tools and a grown-up signal. 


Which is why, if I were a host in demand in the market, as each one of them must surely be, and my noncompete weren't too long, and I really, really cared about the IT and tech  .  .  .

.  .  .  I'd start holding out. 

No -- no, first thing I would do is call a meeting of my fellow hosts, or at least those maddest about the situation.  Oh, this is much better: 

I'd see who was interested in taking the Ticket act, en masse, to another station.  Don't sign the damned contracts, or -- no, this is even better -- make any noncompete contingent on a new signal, appropriate in-studio tech, and a couple of new mobile remote suites, fixing the Internet stream.  That way, if things didn't improve, an entire showgram whose hosts (and essential Y-monks) had signed such a contract could quit and move instantly if promises along these lines were not kept by a date certain.  Producers -- doubt they even have a non-compete, George and Craig and Gordon could take Fernando and Jeremy right along with them, and adios Cumulus.  Cumulus wouldn't go for it?  Well, that's nut-cutting time, isn't it?  You either stay and live with the crap, or you go to a competitor.  Or retire.  Or go to another market that the noncompete doesn't reach.  The more showgrams signed on, the greater terror they could inflict on the CTO.

This assumes, of course, that there are other stations to go to.  It's dreaming (even more than I'm dreaming by even proposing this) to think that anyone would uproot their entire programming to take on The Ticket guys, but on a showgram-by-showgram basis?  ESPN or The Fan?  They'd love to have The Musers.

Don't leave comments telling me I'm crazy.  (Oh, all right, go ahead.)  It's not that crazy.  Some of these hosts are angry.  And they should be.

Horrifying thought:  Is it possible that some of the guys, a little bit, like being The "Little" Ticket (I'm not necessarily referring to Mike here).  They like being the scruffy, underpowered, tech-challenged underdog constantly whipping the be-jeebers out of coddled lame-o sister stations and better-financed and reliably audible competitors? 

I hope not.  I personally don't find the meltdowns amusing (except for the way that Danny handles them on The Hardline, which can be counted on to crack me up), and from the comments it seems to me that the Nation doesn't perceive any benefit there, either.   And, again, I find it insulting that Cumulus offers an audio product this lame especially since AM technology has been around for over a century and FM for over 60 years and stations have been doing remotes for decades?

Hosts, arise!  You have nothing to lose but your comfortable incomes through the noncompete period!!  (I wonder if Lenin got his start this way.)

Mike, you really should have waited for my advice.

* * *

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ausgang said...

I'm not sure what the contract status of either The Musers or BaD. I'm fairly certain The Hardline is contractually bound for the foreseeable future. Norm? Who knows, and I don't mean any disrespect here, but does it really matter at this point? His show is neither going to make or break the (or any) station. If The Courage Boys' and BaD's contract status is in or soon to be in a state of flux, I could see (especially in BaD's case) a competitor swooping in and money and "tech" whipping them. Same goes with the morning show, but I think it would be a lot more difficult to get them to jump ship than BaD (due to being Day Oners).

Interesting stuff, Plainsman. And not at all crazy. In this economy, job market, etc., I don't see such a thing happening, but as Chris Arnold was wont to say "ya neva know."

ausgang said...

Also, I think the "we're The Little One and love it" attitude is no longer something the hosts hang onto. Much like the Mavs winning the Larry O'Brien, once you've become top dog, it's a bit silly to pretend you're the underestimated, underdog. I think they most likely feel that they are the 800 pound gorilla (and they are) that has more than earned the right to the best of everything (and they do). This includes, signal, advertising, technology, and all the rest of it. When the likes of Mike R mention "Little Ticket-ness," I think it's more of a jab at Cumulus than anything.

The Plainsman said...

Oh,yeah, Mike is signed up for awhile longer, probably another three years, and I think someone said Corby's is up next year or later this year. So with the staggered contracts, this scenario is pretty unlikely.

And perhaps I should be more specific: A guy with a contract for a particular term can't just quit and go work somewhere else even without a noncompete. He can't be forced to work for the employer he quit (Lincoln/slaves), but if he quits he can't work elsewhere through the term of his agreement unless, for example, failure of the employer to keep some contractual promise (e.g., new signal, new equipment, specific technical hires) allows the employee to terminate the contract entirely.

Not at all unheard-of. I'm aware of contracts for highly-desirable employees that contain exactly this kind of employer obligation.

What I'm thinking, and what I didn't express very well, is that the prospect of a host holding out at contract time could not be a happy prospect for Cumulus. As soon as a guy lets his contract expire and stops showing up, noncompete or no, his cell phone (or his agent's -- I hope these guys have agents) is gonna explode, showgrams are thrown into chaos, and the fragile confection that is The Ticket will start to totter as other hosts begin to understand the leverage they have.

So I guess what I'm REALLY saying is that the hosts have power, and they should spend some of it -- take some responsibility themselves -- to to ensure that a professional-sounding product goes out on the air.

Anonymous said...

One way I could see this coming about is that if a producer of note, e.g., Danny, was fired for spouting off one too many times about Cumulus. Perhaps the show would rally around him and make a stand? I'm kinda surprised that neither producer nor Ticker guy has been let go yet. I don't mean to pick on Danny, but he doesn't let up. He bitches every single day, often. In most places of employment, the constant, and quite public, harping on your superiors will eventually get you fired. The more I think about it, it wouldn't surprise me if at some point in the near future someone is let go for (actual or perceived) insubordination.

Anonymous said...

Now that I think about it, I have to wonder if the in studio t.v.s not being hooked up (are they still not working) among other things, is/was not being done on purpose? A sort of "let 'em suffer, the whiny ingrates" response by the CTO to the hosts, board ops, and producers' public bitching during and after the move?

The Plainsman said...

Cash Sirois left us a comment (see "Cirque du Sirois" comment) with a hilarious picture showing how the TVs were hooked up. Very funny.

Anonymous said...

This talk of contracts is useless without a link.

duckandcover said...

It's merely speculation and subjective opinion, smart guy/gal. It's called a blog, and these are comments. Most everything is subjective opinion. Perhaps you're new to the internet in general, and blogs in specific, but this is what mostly goes on. If it bothers you, I suggest you move on. Else, why waste your time commenting?

Shaggy said...

Diamond Talk has been running commercials for the last 20 minutes on the stream. Again.

East Texas P1 said...

The stream got really crappy around 6:00 - 6:15 today. About the time I was shutting down at work and did not hear other issues once I got in the car.