He says IHeartRadio will be stillborn without investing in talent and stations.
"(The) IHeartRadio app is not content," he says. "You need living, breathing people to drive this thing called content, and if you keep systematically firing them, like Clear Channel and Cumulus do, you're not going to have much of an industry left."
Del Colliano, the radio analyst, is even harsher: "He's not there at Clear Channel to turn it around. He's there to do what he's done best in the prime part of his life, which is to find a way to package the company so it can be sold to someone else."
A recent post on Del Colliano's site maintains that Clear Channel will start selling off its lesser market stations in about a year and offer the buyers a Clear Channel product called "Premium Choice," featuring voice-tracked talent.
Clear Channel dismisses Del Colliano's criticism. "Jerry Del Colliano's blog is less a tip sheet than a fantasy," says a spokeswoman. "He's been 'predicting' things for years that don't happen and have no basis in reality."
Del Colliano is a pessimist about broadcast radio. Pittman looks at Clear Channel as an "opportunity."
"When people call you an evil empire, what they're saying is, you're not doing anything new and exciting. And I think the opposite side of having a big platform to play with is you can do great stuff," he says, reeling off charitable initiatives, indie band programs and other digital projects.
"That's the exciting thing about being a big platform. The unexciting thing is if we were dull and boring and did what we did 10 years ago or 20 years ago."
'We are so plugged in'
"There is magic at your fingers For the spirit ever lingers ..." -- Rush, "The Spirit of Radio"
Things are looking up in Columbus. The recession is fading and sales are improving. Thanks to the new signal, WWCD's ratings are up as well -- in March it posted its best overall audience numbers in at least three years, with strong showings in key demographics -- and the staff believes the community is behind them.
"We are so plugged in to this community. If we went away, people would definitely notice," says Phillips, a DJ who's been with WWCD for 18 years. "It's the personal touch that's been completely lost from radio. ... Obviously, this is a business, but we're always thinking, how can we be more involved in the community?"
It could be for naught, of course. Del Colliano is fond of a metaphor to describe good, profitable, well-run stations in the current media environment: They're like beautiful estates in the middle of a slum.
"(In radio) you can be a good operator," he says, "but the majority of the real estate is blighted by companies that don't care."
Lipsky, the radio agency head, doesn't buy into the doomsaying. Radio's not going any place; it'll just be another platform, he says, "a wonderful conduit that still keeps you connected."
At CD102.5, the staff chooses to look at the bright side.
Malloy, who started out in the promotions department, is always coming up with new ideas; the latest is a television reality show based on the station called "Life On Air." He's had a reel produced and is trying to interest a network in picking it up.
He prefers another metaphor to Del Colliano's, of big box stores and a local hardware retailer. There's no reason both can't thrive.
"I love Lowe's. I love Home Depot. They serve a purpose for me. But I also love Zettler Hardware," he says. "Because when I know exactly what I need, I know I can go to Zettler Hardware and they'll have it. And someone's going to meet me at the door and go, 'Can we help you with something?' And they walk me over to it, they show me the product, I purchase the product and I walk out happy. That's what we are. We're Zettler Hardware."
The shrine to Andyman is just a few steps from WWCD's studio -- a table lined with candles, photos and a mock check for the Andyman-a-Thon. In the center, there's a portrait of Andy Davis.