The real danger of being surrounded by sycophants

May 10, 2010

Where are they now? A roundup of recent radio activity:

Charlie Warner

  • Chicago broadcasters remember‚ Charlie Warner as the innovative radio executive who "discovered" programming genius Bob Pittman and transformed the old WMAQ into the country music powerhouse of the 1970s. Today, Warner is a respected elder statesman in the business, drawing on his career as a journalism professor, author, management and sales consultant, AOL Interactive marketing chief, and founder of DailyComedy.com. In his Media Curmudgeon blog Friday, Warner took on Tribune Co. CEO Randy Michaels for surrounding himself with old radio cronies --  a recurring theme on this blog, too. (Here is the link to Warner's post.) In part, he writes:
"What does a beleaguered mainstream media company executive trying desperately to emerge from bankruptcy do? Innovate? Find new sources of revenue? Inspire the troops? No, he does what he's always done, surround himself with cronies. Cronies are loyal; no matter how many stupid mistakes you make, how many employees you harass, or how you completely demotivate associates with top-down, silly directives, such as Michaels' banning of 119 words in newscasts on Tribune-owned WGN-AM, cronies will tell you how brilliant, funny, and absolutely right you are."
  • It's good to hear Dave Stewart on the radio again. The veteran news anchor and City Hall reporter was ousted last January after 28 years at news/talk WGN-AM (720) in the same belt-tightening purge that cost Bob Sirott his "Noon Show" job.‚  Now Stewart has landed as a part-time news anchor and reporter at Citadel Broadcasting news/talk WLS-AM (890). WLS operations director Drew Hayes says he hopes to expand Stewart's duties in the near future.
  • Eddie Webb, who signed off April 2 as afternoon personality at Emmis Communications classic rock WLUP-FM (97.9), debuts next week as host of a nationally syndicated nightly radio show, jointly produced by VH1 Classic and Westwood One. Based in New York and airing from 6 to 11 p.m. weeknights, "VH1 Classic Rock Nights" will feature a live studio hotline for call-in requests as well streaming audio and video from in-studio interviews. Webb's opening night guests will include Ray Manzarek and John Densmore of the Doors, Mick Jones of Foreigner and Paul Rodgers of Free and Bad Company. No word yet on a Chicago outlet for the show. Webb had two runs at the Loop -- one from 1998 to 2000 and the other from 2008 until last month.
  • Steve Edwards, best known for his eight years as host of the daily newsmagazine "Eight Forty-Eight" on WBEZ-FM (91.5), most recently has been acting program director of Chicago Public Radio (whose parent company also owns Vocalo.org and this blog site). Now he's taking on a new challenge as content development director. In his new role, Edwards will lead a small team of multiplatform producers in devising new ideas for all of us.
  • The only person who ever held the top programming jobs at both WGN and WLS has run out of Chicago news/talk stations to direct. Bob Shomper, who exited in January after little more than a year at WLS (following a two-year stint at WGN), has landed as news director and assistant program director at KTAR-FM in Phoenix. "Bob is one of the most well-known programmers in news/talk radio," said Russ Hill, Shomper's new boss at the Bonneville International station. "He will help us as we transition from our current position of dominating in radio to owning the digital space as well."
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