The Church of Ahern

According to an article from Robert Feder in today’s Sun-Times, CBS-owned WBBM-TV GM Joe Ahern threw himself a big birthday party at a trendy Loop restaurant two months ago. Guess who got the tab…. some of the station’s employees.

After Ahern sought reimbursement from CBS, Channel 2’s controller turned him away. So, he made the department heads and managers pick up the tab instead, ordering them to write personal checks to him for $100 or more. No word if anyone wore an usher suit and passed around a collection plate at the station to collect the tab.

This comes after reports surfaced that a new marble shower was installed in the washroom of his office – not to mention recently having a lunch that cost $5,000.

Wait, there’s more. A Tribune story last week blasted Channel 2’s new video screen outside its new soon-to-open Loop headquarters with many complaining about being too tacky, too small, and being a distraction.

All of this expense comes after the network – fiscally ruined for life by penny-pincher Larry Tisch (who once owned CBS) – made cutbacks and laid off a lot of staff at its owned-and-operated station division. Tisch made similar moves in the late 1980’s where during his tenure, CBS fell to third place (fourth place in younger demos behind up-and-comer Fox) in the prime-time ratings and WBBM-TV’s ratings almost dropped to the basement.

(If you’ve read Three Blind Mice: How the Networks Lost Its Way– a book by Ken Auletta about the networks and how they survived after they were each sold in the 1980’s – then you know what I’m talking about.)

So can anyone figure out why Ahern still has a job? Easy. They belong to the Church of Tisch. It’s a denomination where you don’t stack ’em deep but run ’em cheap. That’s how you keep your job. Dawn Ostroff is a member: she still has a job at The CW (which is co-owned by CBS and Time Warner), where she continues to lead it right down the toilet. I guess soon, we can expect Ostroff to hit up CW employees to keep the network running. What else do you expect from the Church of Tisch, where Ahern, Ostroff, and CBS boss Lesile Moonves are direct descendants? They are the “ministers” while the congregation foots the bill.

Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!

CBS founder William Paley must be turning over in his grave. I know Larry Tisch is smiling in his.