Tribune board reported to be weighing Randy Michaels ouster


UPDATE: Randy Michaels is still CEO.

First the New York Times reported that Tribune Company CEO Randy Michaels was likely to be pink slipped Tuesday by the company’s board of directors. Now the company’s flagship Chicago Tribune has posted its own report that the board is meeting Tuesday to decide Michaels’ fate.

The Tribune Company has suffered embarrassment recently as the New York Times published a front page story claiming that a “bankrupt culture” had taken over the Tribune Company under the leadership of Michaels and his free-wheeling folks from the world of radio. The story was hardly a revelation to people who knew Michaels and his penchant for shaking up people wedded to tradition and the few truly scandalous allegations were unsubstantiated – and, indeed, denied by Michaels and Tribune. Nevertheless, the story gave Tribune Company some bad publicity as it was trying to put together a plan to emerge from Chapter 11. Even so, there was success on that front.

But then came a second round of bad publicity. Tribune Company Chief Innovation Officer, one of the “radio guys,” sent out a company-wide email with a link to a video called “Sluts” which included a woman pouring liquid over her naked breasts. He apologized and was suspended without pay by Michaels. Abrams then resigned.

The double-whammy of bad PR at a time when the company can ill afford it is not sitting well with some directors as they try to shepherd the company through the final stages of its bankruptcy proceeding. Even though a new board of directors will take over once the company emerges from Chapter 11 and that board would then decide who it wants as CEO to lead the new company, the old board may move to oust Michaels now. The obvious problem then would be finding a top-notch executive to take over what would clearly be an interim position as CEO, subject to the judgment of a board of directors not yet seated who would soon decide whether he/she should stay or go post-Chapter 11.

RBR-TVBR observation: Just as when he was pushed out of Clear Channel, Randy would not have to sit on the sidelines long before he is recruited to run another media company. People love him or hate him and co-workers who “get” what he is about tend to be extremely loyal. Just as numerous Jacor/Clear Channel people dropped whatever else they were doing to rejoin Randy at Tribune Company, many would no doubt be ready, willing and even anxious to join him on the next adventure.