"There's room at the top they're telling you still -
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill -
If you want to be like the folks on the hill."
John Lennon -- "Working Class Hero" (1971)
I fired 28 people in less than a year.
In the final decade of the last century, massive consolidation of corporate holdings was well underway. My broadcast profession was no exception.
Late in the first Bush administration, our Federal Communications Commission doubled prior ownership restrictions on radio stations, allowing the acquisition of two FM and two AM licenses in any market by a single entity. And we can't blame just Republicans.
The 1996 Telecommunications Act, signed by President Bill Clinton and supported in Congress with bipartisan unanimity, doubled things again. Many companies came to own eight radio stations in a single city and these corporations were purchased by even larger groups which operated hundreds of outlets in dozens of states.
Senior management positions were reduced by well over 60% in the first two years. The savings were incredible. Serious format competition was eliminated in many instances with former promotional dollars flowing to the bottom line. Cash flow was superb. Commercial rates started to climb with clients often paying considerably more for significantly less. Investors were ecstatic. And these were the early days.
In 1998, an outfit called Gocom Communications purchased WKBN-TV, a big CBS Television affiliate in Youngstown. Wanting to add five radio stations to their Ohio holdings, Gocom's primary investment group, Bain Capital, made a multi- million dollar loan conditioned on my involvement as Vice President/General Manager. I ran WBBG/WRTK/WICT/WWSY/WPAO through the end of the year, faithfully executing dozens of faithful employees upon the altar of corporate efficiency. Thinning the herd. When I would fire no more, they fired me.
"Corporations are people too" -- Willard "Mitt" Romney (2012).
"The Corporation" is a 2003 award-winning documentary film detailing how modern-day corporations are systematically designed to behave with the clinical symptoms of a complete psychopath, including utter disregard for the safety and feelings of others, difficulty maintaining human relationships, deceitfulness in business practices, an incapacity to experience guilt and a tendency to ignore social norms and respect for the law. If corporations were actual human beings, their behavior might often land them in jail or a padded cell or tightly strapped to an execution gurney.
Responding to accusations of having shipped American jobs overseas in the interest of corporate profit and personal enrichment, supporters of Mitt Romney last week ran a million dollar TV campaign in targeted markets calling Barack Obama a liar. The next day, startling revelations in the Boston Globe and Mother Jones magazine completely vindicated our president and provided ever- increasing anxiety among traditional Republicans.
I wanted to share my own experiences to offer personal testimony verifying observations as outlined in "The Corporation" -- characteristics dramatically and specifically evident in relation to Bain Capital and, particularly, to Bain's Chairman of the Board, CEO and single shareholder, Willard "Mitt" Romney.
Social justice and economic fairness have no place at Bain Capital or other practitioners of vulture capitalism.
Along with other tottering investments, Bain Capital was successful acquiring controlling interest in Clear Channel Communications for $18.7 billion in 2008. Clear Channel has licenses for over 850 radio stations, including KALZ-FM, KBOS-FM, KCBL-AM, KFBT-FM, KHGE-FM, KHGE-FM, KRDU-FM, KRZR-FM and KSOF-FM in Fresno. They also own syndication companies offering exclusive rights to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Mark Levin and Michael Savage with 5,000 affiliates reaching 190 million listeners a week.
The newly renamed Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Company is now $19.9 billion in debt, having lost over $200 million last year alone. Romney, although allegedly now "out of the picture," still has a huge financial stake in Bain as the body count continues to mount.
Jerry Del Colliano, one of the industry's most respected analysts, estimates that around 10,000 people have lost their jobs at Clear Channel properties over the last few years with more coming. Jerry says "What they are likely to do is kick the can down the road and refinance at higher interest rates. After all, Bain makes money whether Clear Channel succeeds or fails."
Romney does know how to make business work -- for himself -- at the expense of -- who cares how many?
Having perfected the art of smiling as he kills.