Tuesday, January 23, 2018


Tom Livingston
A new chapter for the Pacifica Foundation begins this week because Tom Livingston has been chosen as the new Interim Executive Director. 

Livingston, who operates the headhunter firm Livingston Associates [link], has extensive experience as a turnaround specialist. 

Turning around the nation’s most embarrassing and dysfunctional media organization may be his biggest challenge yet.

[Disclosure: Tom Livingston and I have been friends for many years. I am a former client of Livingston’s Executive Coaching services, which I recommend, BTW. My consulting company has also worked for Livingston Associates in the past.]

The terms of Livingston’s agreement with Pacifica have not been released but he likely will have more authority to make changes than any other Executive Director in recent history.  Livingston has an impeccable record of honesty and forthright project management. He has a very low tolerance for BS, so expect changes.

Also at the same meeting on Monday (1/18) Pacifica’s Board of Directors accepted a $2 million loan put together by private parties in Southern California. Pacifica pledged real estate, including the building that houses KPFK in Los Angeles, to back the loan. It is anticipated that the infusion of cash will pay most of the money owed to the Empire Stare Building to settle a judgment regarding past due rent for WBAI’s tower space atop the building.

Inside Pacifica there has been a muted reaction to the hiring of Livingston. They don’t know him. Pacifica typically has hired senior management from within.  A couple of blog posts have identified Livingston as a “mainstream consultant” – not a compliment in their world.

This will likely be a wild ride. We will have it all on Spark News.


Don Imus
On Monday morning (1/18) legendary radio host Don Imus told his WABC New York listeners that his program – Imus in the Morning – will end on March 29, 2018. The reason is that Cumulus Media, owner of WABC radio (the Imus flagship) is now in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. They are now cutting expenses so they can save the company.

Last October I wrote about what I called The Debtor’s Corner [link] – the hundreds of millions of dollars owed by a handful of big commercial radio operators such as Cumulus and iHeartMedia.  The premise of the post was that debt loads were eating up so much of commercial radio’s revenues that the situation is a “gift” to noncommercial broadcasters who are mostly debt free. This is still true today,

When the ship is sinking, the first passengers companies like Cumulus throw of the boat are expensive on-air talent. Ironically that talent is often why listeners choose a particular station. Such is the case with the I-Man.

Though Imus is 77-years old and wanted to continue the program, he still is a bankable talent at a time when radio needs bankable talent. In addition to the gig at WABC, Imus In the Morning is heard on 100 affiliates nationwide via Westwood One.

Recently Cumulus had to back out of valuable contracts with the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls because of uncertainty caused by the Chapter 11 filing.

Don Imus has had a very loyal following of public radio folks (like me) because of his highly literature interviews and commentataries. His guests included many voices seldom heard on commercial radio these days: Doris Kerns Goodwin, the late Tim Russert, historian David McCullough, and New York Times columnists Maureen Dowd and Tom Friedman.

No comments:

Post a Comment