What’s traditional media’s response to a changing market? Hire the same people over and over again.
Currently, broadcast network television is relying on reboots of shows no one wants to see, junk reality competition programming, paint-by-numbers procedurals (mainly on CBS) and long-running programs that never seem to end to sustain their declining ratings.
But apparently, broadcast network execs must’ve gotten their inspiration for uninspiring programming from somewhere.
Which brings us to Chicago radio, where we not only recycle the same radio personalities – we also recycle the same executives.
Case in point: as rumored for the last several weeks, Cumulus-owned WLS-AM announced it has re-hired Erich Mancow Muller to do mornings on the 50,000-watt blowtorch beginning January 3, as reported exclusively Sunday night on Robert Feder’s website. Mancow returns to the airwaves nearly a year after he and the rest of the staff of WLUP-FM were cut in a format change when Merlin Media was forced to sell the station.
The changes come after a huge management shakeup at Cumulus last year, with former Emmis Chicago boss Marv Nyren taking over as market manager. The company decided to shift back to conservative talk with WLS-AM, dropping pro sports broadcasts from the station (thanks to Cumulus’ bankruptcy) and cutting ties to non-political hosts including Steve Dahl and the duo of Bob Sirott and Marianne Muricano.
While you can put Mancow in the non-political category given his stints at the former WRCX-FM and WKQX-FM (the original Q101), he was also on WLS between 2008 and 2010, paired with Pat Cassidy. Mancow has gone on record ripping into Chicagoans and their politicians for their left-leaning ways, especially electing former President Barack Obama in a media market whose registered voters are more than 70 percent Democrat.
I can rehash all the things I’ve said about Muller on this site, but if you want to read past articles I’ve written about him (and there are a few featuring some choice language), you can do so here (don’t forget to check out the famous Everybody Loves Mancow piece.) But as I pointed out Sunday night on Twitter, radio – and now broadcast network television, have basically given up on innovation and risen the white flag on competing with tech giants such as Amazon, Apple, Google, Netflix, Spotify, Pandora, and Sirius/XM – all for the sake of maintaining the status quo by companies re-hiring personalities who long ago wore out their welcome, like Muller and New York radio host Mike Francesca. It’s little wonder people such as Howard Stern and Shonda Rhimes have left traditional media.
Even worse, not only Chicago radio recycles the same personalities, they also recycle the same executives, such as Nyren (who I’ve ripped on this blog before) and Jimmy deCastro, among others, lessening the chance of any fresh and/or innovative ideas. Much like Chicago politics, you basically have a job for life in this industry if you know when and how to kiss the right behind. Hiring a radio host – whose recent accomplishments include achieving a zero rating for his WPWR television show for two years and failing to find an audience on The Loop is a testament to that. I’ve said Chicago is the worst radio market in the country, but Entercom New York and their lack of leadership regarding Francesca and WFAN keep proving me wrong.
In a business now controlled by Wall Street bankers and very generous bankruptcy judges, its rinse, lather, and repeat the same mistakes. Both Cumulus and iHeartMedia filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, as Cumulus came out only a few months ago. It was the bankruptcy who wound up costing Muller his last job in the first place, as an local marketing agreement between Cumulus and Merlin collapsed. But the Jingle Balls and Music Award shows must go on, as if iHeart can magically pull money from their behind.
Given all the useless reboots we’re seeing on television, I’m surprised Mancow’s TV show hasn’t had the same treatment. But given the mindset of the people who run our broadcast television networks and radio stations, don’t be surprised if it returns one day. Because the people running traditional media are just that stupid, no matter how many viewers or listeners head for the exits never to return.