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Randy Michaels Solidifies the Clear Channelization of Tribune

Randy Michaels becomes the master of the big media mash-up.

With ace-consolidator Randy Michaels at the helm of Tribune Company it looks like he’s having a jolly good time installing his old Clear Channel pals into top positions at the bankrupt newspaper and broadcast company. On Monday Tribune announced that ex-Clear Channel CFO Jerry Kersting is now president of Tribune’s broadcasting division. This was followed today by the news that Clear Channel’s old VP of programming Sean Compton would be Tribune Broadcasting’s new president of programming.

Kersting replaces Ed Wilson, who Robert Feder notes,

was one of the few Tribune Co. execs without Clear Channel on his resume, having previously run Fox Television Network, NBC Enterprises and CBS Enterprises. By several accounts, he didn’t kowtow to Michaels, who moved up to CEO of Tribune Co. last December. “Ed was probably too strong for Randy,” one insider surmised. “Randy runs the show.”

Tribune has much bigger investments in TV than radio. In fact, it owns only one station, the news/talk station WGN-AM in Chicago, where back in March Michaels banned 112 words and phrases from being uttered on the station. Nevertheless it already looks like the plan is to perform some of the old Cheap Channel radio tricks on TV. The company is getting ready to give conservative talk radio host Bill Cunningham his own syndicated program on Tribune stations. And who do you think syndicates Cunningham’s radio program? Why, yes, that would be Clear Channel-owned Premiere Radio Networks. (Way to keep it in the family, Randy!)

As the Clear Channel mafia readies to work its magic on Tribune Broadcasting they have a head start since the company’s already in bankruptcy. It got there the same way Clear Channel drove itself into debt — buying up stations–and newspapers–left and right using borrowed money. Only a private equity sale payday would complete the circle.

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