Merlin Media is classic Randy Michaels


Randy Michaels didn’t even have to come up with a new employee handbook for his new company, Merlin Media, which is acquiring three big stations from Emmis for $198 million.

The guidelines will be no surprise to Tribune and Clear Channel employees.

On the newly launched Merlin Media corporate website, this information is posted for potential employees:

“Rules for Merlin Magicians

1. Rule #1 – Use your best judgment
2. Rule #2 – See rule number one.”

Sound familiar?

Merlin Media does expand on the idea a bit: “Using your best judgment means following a lot of rules. FCC rules, IRS rules, local state and federal laws, GAAP, and maybe someday SEC rules among others. Most rules have unintended consequences, and even rules that work when they are written can have undesirable results over time. Rules take away thinking and judgment. Games have rules, and rules are gamed. Using best judgment means following the law, but we don’t need too many additional rules. We need guidelines and principles and people who can think. It’s the only way to greatness.”

According to the web page for jobseekers, there are three key things a “Merlin Magician” must do: 1) Protect the license; 2) Preserve and enhance the goodwill; and 3) Meet and exceed budgets. Each is detailed a bit and there are some more guidelines, but the basic premise is the classic Michaels view that employees should know the basics and then be able to think for themselves.

“We only hire people who are the best at what they do, and who have the ability to lead change,” the site says of would-be management hires. “Our business model is not one of working harder to execute yesterday’s business plans, but one of developing plans that take advantage of the changes that are taking place.” Merlin emphasizes that it will be a “multimedia, multiplatform company” combining the power and reach of traditional media with the “one to one power” of interactive and mobile.

While the website does make mention of “FCC license” and a “good station,” it is worth noting that the word “radio” doesn’t appear on the “become a magician” page for jobseekers.

RBR-TVBR observation: What was notable about Randy’s tenure at Tribune Company was the number of former Jacor and Clear Channel associates who quit good jobs to go work for him again, even as the company was facing public criticism and heading toward Chapter 11 – even while it was in Chapter 11. That loyalty to Randy and his management style is already evident with the first personnel announcements at Merlin Media – and we expect to see more familiar names as the company gears up.