Denver’s Lesson For Boston

As unbearable as our corrupt, tax-and-spend-happy political system is today, what would it be like if The Globies had no competitor to keep it in check? For our disgusting, bribe-happy Corruptocrats, it would be like winning the lottery, Whitey Bulger-style.

That’s because the Globe’s primary mission is to retain our broken system of government above all else. It’s about protecting friends and family.

That’s why the shutdown of the Rocky Mountain News in Denver ought to concern us greatly. As a scrappy, tabloid-sized daily publication, it was known for keeping the far more liberal (and less inclined to investigate local corruption) Denver Post on its toes. Does that sound familiar?

Today, the Rocky Mountain News published its last edition, at their website there’s a moving tribute to its staff and final days. Now imagine the Boston Herald in this position and the stench on Morrissey Boulevard doing handstands as a result.

We’ve already lost a chunk of WRKO’s broadcast day to the Corruptocrats. The Herald represents one of our last remaining checks and balances.

With that sobering thought, are we doing as much as possible to support the Herald? Let’s not wake up one morning to find another voice lost.

Entercom Spins Revenue Drop

If for nothing else, you’ve got to give Entercom credit for sheer chutzpah and stubbornness. The embattled owner of WEEI, WRKO and other stations attempted yesterday to cloak a lousy earnings report in an “increasingly positive” spin effort that was short on facts and long on “yes we can” inspired empty rhetoric.

Not one to let facts get in the way of a desperate attempt to remain in business, Entercom (NYSE:ETM) CEO David Field’s upbeat assessment was eaten up by at least one of the suck-up broadcast trades, which conveniently omitted the company’s quarterly data from its “reporting”.

Here’s an excerpt:

‘Radio’s Future Is Quite Bright’

Field continued, “In addition, while we are all understandably focused on the gravity of the cyclical challenges facing virtually all businesses, we may be missing an increasingly positive emerging secular story.” He noted that, while media usage has changed dramatically, radio posted an all-time record number of listeners in 2008 and “remains the most cost-effective major advertising medium.”

Field pointed out that 235 million Americans 12 and over hear radio every week and said, “Radio remains a robust, vibrant medium serving listeners across the country, and radio is rapidly reinventing itself with aggressive investment in new digital technologies and capabilities, significantly enhancing the ways we interact with and engage our audiences.”

He continued, “We are optimistic as we look to the future,” saying radio’s strong fundamentals and value proposition should let it gain share from other media. Field said, “Despite the current issues facing everyone in this economy, over the long haul, radio’s future is quite bright.”

In response to an analyst’s question about pacings for Q1, Field said January was down 18 percent, but that he has “a certain degree of optimism” about the second half of the year, when comparisons will be easier. Later, in response to a question about expenses, he said the company will “look to significantly reduce our expenses over the course of the year” while maintaining growth in the areas that will “drive our success and our value creation for the long haul.”

Now, contrast Radio Ink’s fluff with this factual report from the Business Journal of Milwaukee:

Entercom 4Q loss widens

Entercom Communications Corp., owner of three Milwaukee-area radio stations, reported Tuesday a fourth-quarter loss of $429.8 million, or $11.91 per share, that included a non-cash $395.2 million impairment charge.

In the comparable 2007 period, the Philadelphia-based company (NYSE: ETM) posted a loss of $9.36 million, or 25 cents per share.

The impairment charge, Entercom said, resulted from a review of its intangible assets and goodwill.

Revenues were $104 million, down 14 percent from $120.5 million year-over-year.

Free-cash flow dropped 24 percent to $23 million in the period.

For the year, Entercom reported a net loss of $516.65 million, or $14.05 per share, compared to a loss of $8.39 million, or 22 cents, a year ago. The company said it did reduce its debt by $140 million during 2008.

As indicated, the value of Entercom’s stations and other assets has dropped by almost 400 million dollars. What exactly is “robust” or “vibrant” about that?

And here’s the kicker: while Field talks about Entercom’s supposedly bright future, he’s also taken the step of withholding future earnings and expenditure guidance from analysts. From this point forward, they be will flying blind ahead of each quarterly report.

Clearly, Wall Street isn’t buying Field’s trickery: ETM shares remain just above a buck at $1.18, down from $66.56 ten years ago.

Rush Pans Globies, Praises Patriots Team Management

As Rush Limbaugh demonstrated on Monday’s show, New England-based topical fodder isn’t just for Boston talk hosts to enjoy.

While praising a book on how the Patriots run their football organization, he separately had harsh words for a Globie piece on Bay State layoff “victims” who are enjoying their fat Massachusetts unemployment payouts (which can bring in close to $3000 a month here, depending on past compensation and number of dependents):

“John Stephen Dwyer so far isn’t missing his job or former office overlooking Chinatown. The 41-year-old Boston native was laid off in November from his $40,000-a-year job as education coordinator for the Clinical Research Graduate Program of Tufts University Sackler School of Biomedical Sciences.” Can I go through that again? The guy makes, or made, $40,000 a year as education coordinator. What is an education coordinator? Now, I know what a vision control coordinator is. A vision control coordinator is a window washer. I don’t know what an education coordinator is. But anyway, he had that job for the clinical research graduate program of Tufts University’s Sackler School of Biomedical Scientists, and “he hasn’t seriously started looking for new work yet.” Douglas T. Hall, a professor at the Boston University School of Management, “It’s the success syndrome. You work hard, you do well. It’s very satisfying and that gets you more involved to start working even harder. It’s a success spiral that people get into. And sometimes it takes some extreme experience to get out of that spiral.”

When did my success spiral begin? My success spiral began I’d have to say in 1984 when I moved to Sacramento, and I have been in that success spiral, and the last thing I want to do is get out of it. (interruption) Hm-hm? Well, no, you go to the success spiral, but then when there’s interruption in the success spiral, like when you get canned, then that’s when you start posting your pictures at the local coffee shop, go out there take pictures, travel around, visit museums, read National Geographic, look at pictures of places you’ll never visit either in person or in real life. Take the model train, put it in the basement, play around with the six-year-old, clean up the puke and the pabulum, all these things that you don’t get to do, experience what daylight looks like, the sun, because you don’t get to do that. Yes, laid off and loving it.

Now, this is media cover for what’s happening. There are so many people unemployed there’s no stigma attached to it. So, anyway, the small business people who hire the newly happy unemployed are going to be soaked with a 40% tax — most small businesses file on their personal income tax return. Most of them are Subchapter S corporations, and they file on their personal return, their new rate will be in a couple years, 2011 or so will be 40%, smack-dab in the middle of a recession. This is disastrous, but don’t call it a tax increase on the rich. It’s not that. Small businesses of $250 grand and larger are not rich people. They’re going to pay the brunt. And once again, what this all adds up to is you’ve got a worldview of a bunch of people in this administration with a chip on their shoulder who look at the people who they think are rich, they think those people are rich because they have been unfair, they have stolen or they’ve taken more of their share from the economic pie, that’s why there are poor people and so the chip on the shoulder is going to lead us now to level the playing field by spreading as much misery equally as possible.

Later, he tied the subject to the apparently unique style of management at the New England Patriots organization:

Now, as I read through this, remember that story from the top of the program today about these newly happy unemployed people, and think about whether you’d like to hire ’em once the time comes to start hiring back.

Here’s more: “That is how a segment of the Patriots program works. It’s driven by a concept that’s rare not only in sports, but in American society. You do what you’re expected to do without being asked. Pioli says, ‘I’m looking at it from an employer standpoint. What else is this player going to have in his life that’s more important than football, other than the chemistry lab? I can’t always put my values on to people, but here’s what I know. My job is to find players for a head coach who wants football to be the most important thing in their worlds, and I believe in it.’ Pioli’s opinions, like Belichick’s, the coach, are so clear and blunt that there’s little, if any, room for misunderstandingings. In fact, it is written in the Patriots’ manual that all scouts must have a clear opinion on prospects. Neutrality or passive aggressiveness can get you fired. You actually get credit when you logically disagree with the boss. ‘I want ’em to know their opinion is important,’ says Pioli. ‘As a matter of fact it’s so important that part of the evaluation of you is going to be whether you have one.'”

Now, this is one of the greatest indictments and this is a book, by the way, about the Patriots called “Patriot Reign.” I’m reading from chapter 9 called “Finding the Missing Pieces.” And this is all about people and the most important thing in their life is the job, and the people who work there had better have opinions about things, no moderate squishy-squashiness, or you don’t last.

Another Broadcaster Busted

Another day, another broadcasting bust. What’s going on?

This time, it’s Melissa Bell, a TV weatherperson most recently seen on FOX 25 in Boston. According to the Herald, she’s been busted for adding extra curves to Soldiers Field Road where they aren’t normally found. Her arrest somehow didn’t stop her from going on the air that night:

FOX 25 freelance meteorologist Melissa Bell was arrested for drunken driving early Friday morning – and then went on the air that night – after she nearly struck a state police cruiser while speeding and weaving on Soldiers Field Road, according to state police.

The 39-year-old Bell was behind the wheel of a 2004 Cadillac Escalade when she passed a state police trooper in the left lane “going well over” the posted 40 mph speed limit at 1:35 a.m., according to state police spokesman Dave Procopio.

Bell’s vehicle “nearly struck the front of his cruiser as it cut in front of him,” said Procopio, quoting from the police report. The trooper reported Bell was driving between 50 to 55 mph and was “weaving between” the travel lanes. The road conditions were poor, the trooper stated, and the Soldiers Field Road was covered in sleet and snow.

Procopio said the trooper pulled Bell over and he “observed a smell of alcohol” when he approached the driver’s side. The trooper reported Bell, formerly a meteorologist at WBZ-TV (Channel 4), asked him a question that was “incoherent.”

Sure, there are drunk-drivers in every industry. For many years, however, there has been an epidemic of substance abuse in broadcasting. Add to that severe turmoil that has sent so many seasoned professionals packing and the scramble to make a living becomes more intense than ever.

This isn’t to excuse Bell’s alleged behavior, but might help to explain it..

Ted K’s Seat Ready To Be Passed To Wife?

In just over a dozen paragraphs, the Boston Herald’s Track Gals have delivered what seven days of a brutally overdone, multi-part Boston Globe Ted K tribute wouldn’t: an honest disclosure on where this is all headed.

Obviously, we don’t wish suffering on our political opponents, even if Teddy did demonstrate a callous indifference toward Mary Jo Kopechne on that day in the summer of 1969.

Nonetheless, the idea of simply handing Kennedy’s US Senate seat to current wife Vicki Kennedy will not be without controversy. Between a thin résumé, weak ties to the Bay State and a surname that means a lot less than it once did, especially to voters under 55 or so, sympathy will only go so far.

Could this be Caroline II, Massachusetts edition? Quite possibly.

From the Gals:

Because of Kennedy’s condition, off-the-record speculation about the future of his Senate seat has been rampant this week – especially in light of a seven-part Boring Broadsheet opus that is being widely viewed as a premature obituary. And yesterday’s installment was interpreted by some close to the matter as the first step in a torch-passing to Kennedy’s wife, Vicki.

“It appeared to be setting up Vicki’s senate campaign,” said one insider.

The story described the former Victoria Reggie as “a great lawyer” with “tremendous political skills” and “great sense of humor.”

It portrayed her family as Kennedy doppelgangers and Vicki’s father, Edmund Reggie, as one of Ted’s closest companions.

“The Reggies and their six children had more than a little Kennedy in them,” the BB wrote. “Edmund was an unabashed liberal from the heart of Dixie . . . ‘Last one in the pool is a Republican!’ the judge was known to bellow at his kids.”

Although Edmund Reggie is quoted often – including in an anecdote that started the series off earlier this week – no member of Ted’s family has said anything to the Globe on the record so far.

Word on the Hill is that some Kennedy staffers are quite unhappy with the series, finding it far too critical of Ted. Not so when it comes to Vicki, who the BB portrayed as a politically savvy, stabilizing influence on Ted. She is credited with helping him to secure re-election in a hard-fought battle with Mitt Romney after the near-career-destroying Palm Beach rape scandal.

“You wonder how much control she had over who they spoke to,” said a Kennedy source.

Interestingly, the Globe never mentions any of the Reggie family’s legal woes in the opus. Edmund Reggie was convicted in 1992 of misapplication of funds from a savings and loan he founded in 1959 that failed in 1987. He pleaded no contest to a similar charge in 1993 and served 120 days of home detention and paid a $30,000 fine. Vicki’s brother Raymond Reggie was sentenced to a year in jail after being convicted of bank fraud in 2005.

Should Kennedy be unable to finish out his senate term, which ends in 2012, a special election must be held within 145 to 160 days of the seat becoming vacant. The big question is: Will Kennedy make it known that he wants his wife to succeed him – a move that would almost assuredly guarantee Vicki the seat?

That the Kennedy family somehow finds this series “tough” on Ted shows just how much they’ve come to expect kid glove treatment from Boston’s media establishment. It’s about as hard-hitting as a generous helping of Marshmallow Fluff spread on your child’s sandwich.

Clearly, our evil Globie friends are once against working against the people of Massachusetts by pushing to install Teddy’s wife in the US Senate. But they may be underestimating the potential for backlash, particularly in light of Caroline’s Empire State fiasco.

Working in their favor is the massive outpouring of sympathy that will be generated upon Ted K’s passing. Expect Obama, the Democrats and their media friends to milk it for all they can, it’s Paul Wellstone times 100.

Vicki Kennedy image: USA Today

Analyst Rates Entercom A “Sell”

Citing the expectation of continued tough times ahead for the WRKO – WEEI owner, an analyst at ARGUS yesterday issued a “sell” rating on shares of Entercom (NYSE: ETM). From their report:

ARGUS Reiterates a ‘Sell’ Rating on Entercom (ETM); Anticipates Another Tough Quarter

February 19, 2009

ARGUS reiterates a ‘Sell’ rating on Entercom Communications (NYSE: ETM).

ARGUS analyst says, “We expect Entercom to report another challenging quarter in 4Q08, and the advertising market is showing signs of accelerated decline. Though some valuation metrics point toward cheapness, we emphasize that there are sometimes valid reasons for a stock to be cheap.

Our 2008 EPS forecast is $0.89, and our 2009 estimate is $0.62. The company suspended its dividend in November, and near-term liquidity appears OK despite a high debt load.”

Entercom shares finished yesterday’s trading at $1.12, down four cents.

Entertainment Rag Attacks Local Host For Being Nice

Just about every city has at least one local “alternative” weekly, founded either to cover entertainment or on the premise that the nearest broadsheet daily somehow wasn’t liberal enough.

Over the years, I’ve tangled with a few of them, but also had surprisingly good experiences with others on several occasions.

Boston’s version, however, has so little credibility that I generally ignore it entirely. But the latest has a piece so pathetic that it deserves discussion. Utilizing grade school-level gay-baiting, Adam Reilly ridicules Howie Carr for somehow failing to treat former WHDH-7 anchor Randy Price with disrespect.

Apparently, since conservatives have horns on their heads, Howie should have attacked Price during his post-termination, in-studio interview, but he “forgot”.

Does the Boston Phoenix have editors? If so, how did this piece of crap get past them?

Here’s a sample:

Howie’s gay love-in!

[…]

It’s all true. And for the duration of the interview on WRKO-AM, the Scondras Sex Simulator stayed silent! When Price referenced his husband — no sound effects. When Price talked about Channel 7’s failure to report on a new, $100 million AIDS-vaccine grant institute in Boston — still nothing. For nearly half an hour, Carr played it straight (pun fully intended), discussing Price’s objections to Channel 7’s guiding philosophy and even, toward the end of the segment, bonding with his guest over their shared love of . . . pugs. (While on this topic, Price noted that he wouldn’t participate in Pug Rescue of New England’s annual parade, because it’s too campy — but added that he could see Carr joining the festivities. Still no Scondras Sex Simulator!)

So what gives, Howie? “I like Randy Price,” Carr tells the Phoenix via e-mail. “I don’t care about his sexual orientation — he’s a good guy, he’s a friend of mine, and I’m sorry he’s gone. I offered to put in a good word for him at WTKK [96.9 FM] if he wants to try talk radio.”

For his part, Price apparently likes Howie Carr, too — and considers Carr’s occasional forays into gay-baiting (which, among other things, have included use of the phrase “sodomy lobby” in his BostonHerald column) as a bit of an act.

From Carr’s perspective, could the difference be the fact that Price is a professional and prominent member of the community, rather than a crooked hack engaging in predatory behavior? Apparently, it’s the Phoenix that can’t make the distinction between the two.

I’ve never seen a talker attacked for treating a guest with respect, have you?

The only head-scratcher: would Howie really recommend Price to WTKK (like it or not, his competitor) as a radio talk host?