Monday, August 08, 2005

Cards to KTRS

You may have seen yours truly on Channel 5 the other night giving an opinion or two about the move by the Cardinals from KMOX to KTRS. I thank Kelly Jackson and Channel 5 for asking for my opinion, which is no more important than anyone else's. I have heard a lot of other "takes" on this whole thing from people on both sides of the fence since then. My bottom line remains the same...and this comes from someone who has worked at both stations--

KTRS-Local ownership and management with a passion for St. Louis and it's sports teams.
KMOX-Corporate ownership, distantly managed by non-St. Louisans

KTRS-Stand alone station based in St. Louis
KMOX-Part of multi-station Infinity broadcasting--headquartered in New York.

If there is one thing that excites me about this move by the Cardinals, its that it could signal a renewed emphasis by those in the broadcasting business, and those who do business with them, on the importance of local people calling the shots. "De-corporatizing" radio and television would be a great thing. We would all be better off with a return to the days when you could actually deal face-to-face with the General Manager, Program Director, or General Sales Manager who didn't have to answer to out-of-town ownership. Those people, by definition, are systematic and bottom line oriented. They have a cookie cutter that doesn't work for all markets, even though they think it does. They make decisions that may be right for New York, or Dallas, or San Francisco, but may not be appropriate for St. Louis which has different political, social, and economic forces. They are the slumlords of the broadcasting business.

These corporate broadcasting management types have usually acquired their positions by making the appropriate calls on matters within their companies, not within our local stations. And usually if a matter, such as Cardinals baseball rights, doesn't make sense on paper to that person in the big corporate office...and he/she isn't willing to try to sell it to a board of directors... then it isn't worth the gamble of their job to fight for it. It doesn't matter what the local market manager may think. Or... as in KMOX's case...what tradition may scream out for.

KMOX, to be sure, is and probably will on the strength of it's signal alone, continue to be a dominant station in St. Louis. But, because there is no longer a Robert Hyland to manage the station in an independent fashion, it will be just another station in the Infinity corporate structure. It will be subject to all of the same "corporate report" forces as any other station in it's portfolio. Sad, but true. This "foreign management" does a disservice to the people of St. Louis. Not intentionally, but unknowingly, automatically and necessarily. The bottom line will continue to be the bottom line.

"The Mox" doesn't have a St. Louis see-all and do-all dynamo like Bob Hyland running things any more. KTRS has Tim Dorsey, who isn't Bob Hyland either, but understands "Hylandism", has a local office and grew up in St. Louis. The Cardinals were smart to run with the local guys.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Running with the local guys? Tom, the first thing that apparently has happened in the wake of the KTRS-Cards nuptials was the importing of Bobby Lawrence to oversee Tim Dorsey and all of KTRS. So, Cincinnatian Bill DeWitt of the Cardinals hooks up with (one-time) Cincinnatian Bobby Lawrence to move the team to KTRS. I fully agree with the gist of your post, Tom; it would indeed be terrific if local ownership were to return to the fore in radio. But in the Cards-KTRS case, I'm just not certain that that has happened. A bit too much Queen City involvement for me to buy off on that notion.

PS: Looking forward to hearing you over the PA at Savvis in 05-06.