Friday, August 31, 2012

Nicely Played

Just when you thought Fort Wayne radio had hit the bottom of creativity and imagination, this comes along.

At first blush, this would appear to be a kind, compassionate and generous offer to the recently fired employees of Federated Media. At a time when the economy is questionable, it would seem that the Oasis Radio Group was in a position to give the ex-FedMed employees a ray of hope.

In truth, this is not what it seems. In reality, it's a well done publicity stunt offering Oasis Radio Group an opportunity to stick their thumb in the eye of a competitor and their former employees. Most, if not all,  of the ex FedMed employees signed employment contracts when they were hired (a standard practice) which include non compete clauses. There is little chance that FedMed would ever waive those clauses, and an even more remote chance that any of the ex FedMed employees would risk a long, expensive court battle to take a position with Oasis.

The non compete is a pesky little piece of legalese generally stating that if the employee leaves the employer, for any reason, the employee agrees (is forced to agree) to not work for a "competing" media facility for a specified time (usually a year) within the same "market area". Crafty lawyers have had marginal success challenging non competes by simply having the new employer specify a slightly different job title (air talent vs, disc jockey. or music director vs programming coordinator). Not to be out done, those contracts, for some time now, contain an additional "trade secrets" clause stating that the employee, in the course of their regular duties, would have access to inside information that could damage the employer if the employee were to become employed by a competitor. Courts have, time and time again, upheld both the non compete and trade secret provisions. 

So you may admire Oasis Radio Group, but not for the reason you think. They deserve to be applauded for having the business sense of taking advantage of a competitor's weaknesses and using that to enhance their image. That's how the game is played. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

WOWO/FedMed's Big Hatchet Job

The unceremonious dumping of Gregg Henson and his assistant, Brian whats-his-name, was not unexpected. FedMed needed someone to blame for killing what little credibility the iconic WOWO once had. At this point, the Maven was sure the bleeding would stop and attention would be turned to WOWO's turd of a newsroom with all it's warts and foibles. A quick fix there would begin to repair the damage to both audience and advertisers. The announcement of Mr. Zimmerman taking the programming reins was also welcomed by current and former FedMed staffers. The road to recovery was clear.

Not so fast. On Monday, according to a reputable local blogger, social media, media reports and our own insider(s) on Maples Road, 12 Federated Media employees were escorted off the property with only what they could carry in a cardboard box. Among the casualties were Chief Operating Officer Mark DePrez, highly regarded WMEE mid day talent Zack Skyler and Production Wizard Steve Brelsford. Other casualties included DePrez's wife who reportedly held some sort of sales position, assorted other sales people and some part timers. A News~Sentinel story reports that WOWO/FedMed has no plans to fill the vacant positions.

What does all this mean? Are some of these dismissals the direct result of the hiring and firing of Gregg Henson? Probably not. Are some of these firings the result to poor hiring decisions and the resulting fall out? Maybe. The Maven believes that the folks in Elkhart who call the shots are tired of losing money running radio stations that, according to many industry analysts, no one will be listening to in 20 years. This may be Federated Media/Pathfinder Communicaitons/Fallen Timbers/Talking Stick, etc's one and only chance to preserve some of Grandpa Jack Dille's fortune for the current generation to spend foolishly. What we're seeing may be a purging of "excess" costs (generated by those 12 poor souls tossed over the side), and a further pruning of expenses in an effort to make the financials look even more attractive to a large radio ownership group(s).

While many people in Fort Wayne like to bitch and moan about the present state of local radio, just wait until the likes of WOWO, K105, the Bear and others are swallowed up by a large corporate operator who will pipe in programming from a far away central location with advertising sales handled via a call center backed up by a corporate website. That's how it works these days, and one has to assume, local radio's days are numbered in Fort Wayne. It's just a matter of time.  

Monday, August 20, 2012

WOWO Gets A Woody!

Well, the antagonistic, in-your-face angle didn't work, so now WOWO tries again. 

According to the industry-respected, WOWO's new Operations Manager is Bill "Woody" Zimmerman, replacing the recently bounced Gregg ‘Hacksaw’ Henson. According to the story, "Market Manager Jim Allgeier said, "Woody's sense of urgency, organizational skills, attention to detail and work ethic make him uniquely qualified to take on the complex job of programming a News/Talk station." The article goes on to mention that Mr. Zimmerman is a local, and has held numerous positions within Federated Media so he should be accustomed to dealing with the quirks and expectations of the company and the attached executive egos that come with the territory.

A couple of ex-FedMed employees are viewing this development in a very positive way, telling the Maven that if anyone can help rescue the damaged credibility and reputation of this iconic media institution, Woody is the guy. The Maven will wait and see.

The first thing Mr. Zimmerman can do is to clean up the newsroom operation. It’s an embarrassment and has done just as much to trash the WOWO good name as Mr. Henson did while threatening listeners by name on the air. The news writing is sophomoric, childish, and at times, inaccurate and confused. The presentation sounds like high school kids trying to be cute.

Woody has his work cut out for him and we wish him well, it's a tall order. The Maven hopes that the “sense of urgency” is real, and not just another positioning statement. WOWO could use the help, not more slogans and fixes.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Hacksaw Henson Leaves WOWO....

According to numerous reports, Gregg Henson, Program Manager for WOWO 1190 has left the building. Word is that Friday was his last day. His assistant, Brian somebody, apparently was also released. 

Gregg Henson's short stint as a WOWO talk show host began with the rather abrupt dumping of the highly popular Pat Miller, and culminated with Henson's removal from the air in early June after reportedly threatening the lives of five listeners on air and in social media, by name after they complained about Pat Miller's departure. Advertisers, who are the only voice that media will listen to, reportedly either cancelled their advertising, or asked to have their ad dollars placed with other FedMed properties. Henson also contacted the Maven, and others, with instructions to never listen to WOWO nor to comment publicly about the station, or he "would unleash the lawyers". The Maven's attorney was not amused. 

At any rate, now that Fort Wayne's long radio nightmare is over, a few troubling questions still remain. 

First, why was this hot-headed, vengeance driven troublemaker hired in the first place? This is not the radio industry of the 60's and 70's when all that station managers had to rely on was a nicely edited tape and a reasonably clear resume with a minimum of Liquid Paper dribbles on it's face. This is the age of technology, and if someone, anyone within Federated Media would have bothered to Google Mr. Henson's name, could they not have avoided this costly journey down a path from which their credibility may not easily recover? One must remember, the industry geniuses at 2915 Maples Road operate in mysterious ways. 

Another question: How long until WOWO's news operation undergoes an overhaul to restore credibility to it's content and presentation? Currently it's a newsroom run by a publicity-seeking cellphone abuser presiding over newscasts written using the Urban Dictionary as a guide, delivered by seemingly bright, perky and clueless females who are more concerned with Justin Bieber's inseam measurement than with who the Premier of Israel is. It was a very telling moment on Friday when the confused newscaster-ette said "WOWO news this hour is brought to you by ............ er one". Hey, it's the truth.

And the last question, who's voice will we hear on Monday at 3pm? You might be surprised. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

WOWO News Convicts Another Person of Murder

The media tends to over use the word "allegedly" in order to protect itself from legal complications. Now, one would assume the journalistic geniuses at WOWO would, at least, use the word once in their news copy.

No, not likely. Please notice that they have apparently already found this citizen guilty of murder without even a trial. Here's the headline:

Then there's the headline of the copy. Note the copy is correct.

And the hits (on their credibility) just keep on coming.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

As Heard On The Radio

Painful news copy from our friends at WOWO 1190 (and now on 92-3 FM). The Maven believes that the font/text is so small because they are hoping no one will notice the poor writing.

Here we go:

#1: We get the message that police were called. The second reference is an insult to readers/listeners who you just told that police were called. 

#2: WTF is this? "The guys from 5-0". What's a "5-0"? Please don't tell me this is an Hawaii 5-0 reference? No one would be that stupid to place a reference to a ficticious law enforcement agency portrayed on a TV show within a news story. Must be an inside joke at the station. 

#3: "the chase was on". Gee, cliche much?

#4: What is it with WOWO's fetish with using the word "guys" in every news story? It sounds like a writing crutch with the only redeeming value to the audience as, perhaps, the basis for a fun drinking game. If you hear "guys", down an ice cold Milwaukee's Best. 

#5: "still in the wind", a phrase that I use every day to describe losing my car keys. Cutesy overload. Cut it out. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

WOWO Getting Closer....

Casey Hendrickson is this week's guest host on WOWO's afternoon show. And from what the Maven heard, Casey had a great day. Of course, it helps that Casey is the morning man on a FedMed sister station in the South Bend market, but he did the best, to date, of any of the others trying out for the position. 
Mr. Hendrickson sounded engaging and conversational, treated callers with respect, and did his homework about the hot topics of the day.
If WOWO decides to hire Mr. Hendrickson for the gig, it's a wise move. Obviously they will have someone who they believe will do a good job, plus, since he's already a FedMed employee there's a cost-savings to them as well. Thanks to technology, there is no reason why Casey can't conclude his South Bend morning show, take a long lunch, and then go back into the same studio and perform on WOWO in the afternoon, all for a cost far less than hiring another full time employee. Smart move. 
In spite of Gregg "the hacksaw" Henson's admonishment to me to not listen to "his g*d-damn radio station" .... I think I'll be back tomorrow. 
Casey Hendrickson just might be the one to lead WOWO afternoons back to respectable numbers and revenue. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Obligatory WOWO News Slam

You know the drill. Cutesy news copy delivered by a voice only a Junior High School speech teacher could love. 

A closer look:

#1: Columbia City, not Columia City. You may not pronounce the "B", but most of us who live in the area do. 

#2: "a ton of stuff". The only thing worse in news writing than using excessive descriptive adjectives is to use deceptively excessive descriptive adjectives. It's a physical imposibility for a passenger car to carry a ton, or 2,000 pounds, of anything without dragging ground.