There's not a crappier industry. The competition for poster child of all things crappy in radio -- and corporate
Americafor that matter -- begins and ends with Clear Channel.
Clear Channel makes the big banks, airlines and even Wall Street look chill.
Here's a company with a shocking $20 billion in debt, $6 billion in revenue, $1 billion in cash and tens of millions in quarterly losses. Yet Clear Channel manages to find a way to fly its CEO Bob Pittman around in a private jet.
Not a day goes by without, at the very least, rumors of mass firings at one or more Clear Channel stations. They don't care who you are -- a beloved talent with great ratings or an intern in the promotions department -- if they pay you money, you're fair game to get cut loose in the next round of goodbyes.
It has to be this way, however. It has been this way for as long as I can remember. That's what years of mismanagement and ineptitude do to businesses and, in traditional radio's case, an entire industry.
How Pittman and other Clear Channel executives can look their employees, investors and the public in the face touting the company's digital presence, iHeart Radio, and clout with listeners and advertisers is beyond me. Have they looked at the balance sheet? Have they looked at how they singlehandedly killed and continue to kill an entire medium?
To deal with its debt, Clear Channel will fire people, sell stations and make complicated swap and merger deals that will likely also trigger job losses. That's the status quo at the company.
And it doesn't have to be -- Mel Karmazin, a former terrestrial radio guy, found a way to competently dig Sirius XM out of a similar jam.
Clear Channel -- what a hellish place to work. That's not just conjecture on my part. I know people who have worked there, work there now and will likely get chopped sooner or later.
It's business, I realize this. But, at some point, can we humanize this type of thing?
Can we have a serious discussion about how a CEO like Bob Pittman can have a dream contract while sacrificing employees left and right?
Companies such as Clear Channel screw real people each and every day. We're talking about people who do not make much money. Receptionists. Sales assistants. Board operators. Producers. Many of these folks have annual salaries in the teens and twenties and hourly earnings as low as minimum wage.
Whenever I hear about…old radio friends losing their jobs on what amount to execution lines…I wonder how bank executives and radio CEOs can sap their employees' spirits and crush livelihoods as part of their job descriptions and get paid incredibly well for it. It just doesn't seem fair.
Rocco Pendola is TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola's daily contributions to TheStreet frequently appear on CNBC and at various top online properties, such as Forbes. Prior to graduating from San Francisco State with a degree in urban studies, Pendola spent 12 years working at various talk radio stations in markets such as Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Dallas. He lives in