Saturday, January 19, 2008

Randy Michaels

(born Benjamin Homel) is an American broadcaster and entrepreneur. Michaels started his career in radio as an engineer. He was named after a jingle package when he started doing on-air work in Buffalo. At one point in his early career Michaels was working at 5 stations using 3 different names.


On December 20, 2007 Michaels became EVP & CEO of Interactive and Broadcasting for Chicago based Tribune Company. His Tribune roll includes overseeing most of the Tribune newspapers. Michaels will also oversee Local TV LLC through a management agreement. The Tribune/LocalTV management agreement creates the largest television group in total reach.

Early years

Michaels was often referred to as “boy wonder” for Taft Broadcasting in the early 1970’s. Michaels was Taft’s Vice President of Programming in his 20’s, successfully turning stations WGRQ Buffalo, WKRQ and WKRC Cincinnati, and WDAF Kansas City. In 1983 Michaels left Taft with partner Robert Lawrence to form Seven Hills Broadcasting. With partners, he purchased stations in Nashville and Knoxville, along with WSKS and 700WLW Cincinnati. Within three years 700WLW had become the pioneer of modern talkradio rising to the top of the ratings. Seven Hills merged with Jacor in 1986, and Michaels became EVP/Programming and co-COO until assuming the President/COO position during re-structuring under Sam Zell in May of 1993. In 1996 Zell named Michaels CEO.

Early Television Experience

Michaels first experienced television in the mid 90’s when Jacor purchased Citicasters. The deal included 2 television stations WTSP Tampa (swapped to Gannett for 6 radio stations shortly after acquisition) and WKRC Cincinnati which held ratings dominance during the late 90’s and early 2000’s.

In early 2007 Michaels became CEO of Local TV, LLC, a company that acquired television stations formerly owned by The New York Times. On December 22, 2007 LocalTVllc announced it was acquiring 8 large market stations from News Corp.

Local TV Stations

size ↓
Media market name ↓ Callsign ↓ Analog ↓ Digital ↓ Affiliation ↓ Notes ↓
17 Cleveland, Ohio WJW 8 31 Fox Acquisition from Fox Television Stations pending
18 Denver, Colorado KDVR / KFCT 31 / 22 32 / 21 Fox Acquisition from Fox Television Stations pending
21 St. Louis, Missouri KTVI 2 43 Fox Acquisition from Fox Television Stations pending
31 Kansas City, Missouri WDAF-TV 4 34 Fox Acquisition from Fox Television Stations pending
34 Milwaukee, Wisconsin WITI 6 33 Fox Acquisition from Fox Television Stations pending
35 Salt Lake City, Utah KSTU 13 28 Fox Acquisition from Fox Television Stations pending
40 Birmingham, Alabama WBRC 6 50 Fox Acquisition from Fox Television Stations pending
42 Norfolk, Virginia WTKR 3 40 CBS
45 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma KFOR-TV 4 27 NBC
45 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma KAUT-TV 43 40 MyNetworkTV
46 High Point, North Carolina WGHP 8 35 Fox Acquisition from Fox Television Stations pending
47 Memphis, Tennessee WREG-TV 3 28 CBS
53 Scranton - Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania WNEP-TV 16 49 ABC
71 Des Moines, Iowa WHO-TV 13 19 NBC
83 Huntsville, Alabama WHNT-TV 19 59 CBS
96 Moline, Illinois WQAD-TV 8 38 ABC
102 Fort Smith, Arkansas KFSM-TV 5 18 CBS

Tribune Stations

DMA# City of License/Market Station Owned Since Current Affiliation
1. New York City WPIX 11 1948 CW
2. Los Angeles KTLA 5 1985 CW
3. Chicago WGN-TV 9 1948 CW
4. Philadelphia WPHL-TV 17 1992 MyNetworkTV
5. Dallas - Fort Worth KDAF 33 1997 CW
9. Washington, D.C. WDCW 50 1999 CW
10. Houston KHCW 39 1995 CW
14. Tacoma - Seattle KCPQ 13 1999 Fox
KMYQ 22 1998 MyNetworkTV
16. Miami - Fort Lauderdale WSFL-TV 39 1997 CW
18. Denver KWGN-TV 2 1966 CW
20. Sacramento - Stockton - Modesto KTXL 40 1997 Fox
21. St. Louis KPLR-TV 11 2003 CW
23. Portland, Oregon KRCW-TV 32 2003 CW
26. Bloomington, Indiana WTTV 4 2002 CW
Indianapolis WXIN 59 1997 Fox
Kokomo, Indiana WTTK 29
(satellite of WTTV)
2002 CW
27. San Diego KSWB 69 1996 CW
29. Hartford - New Haven, CT WTIC-TV 61 1997 Fox
Waterbury, Connecticut WTXX 20 2001 CW
39. Grand Rapids - Battle Creek -
Kalamazoo, MI
WXMI 17 1998 Fox
41. York - Harrisburg -
Lancaster - Lebanon, PA
WPMT 43 1997 Fox
53. New Orleans WGNO-TV 26 1983 ABC
WNOL-TV 38 1999 CW

Tribune Papers

Market Paper
New York Newsday
New York AM New York
Los Angeles Los Angeles Times
Chicago Chicago Tribune
Chicago RedEye
Baltimore Baltimore Sun
South Florida South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Hartford Hartford Courant
Allentown Morning Call
Newport News Daily Press

Jacor Consolidation

When the 1996 Telecom bill passed on Feb12, 1996, allowing, for the first time the ownership of up to 8 stations in a single market, Jacor announced the first two 8 station clusters; one in Denver, one in Cincinnati. Both announcements occurred within days of the bill passing. The Cincinnati cluster included 8 radio stations, and WKRC TV. Jacor and its successor parent led the industry in consolidation, eventually acquiring over 1000 more stations than the Number Two group. Michaels took full advantage of the rules, and in many cases, legally acquired more stations than seemed to be allowed. For instance, a 12 station cluster was created in San Diego. Four of the stations were licensed to Mexico, which is not subject to FCC rules. At Jacor, Michaels built a team that produced not only the most impressive acquisition record but also the industry’s best “same store” growth figures. Most of those on that team remained with him until his departure from Clear Channel in 2002.


While painted as "outrageous" by some, Michaels is known by those who work for him as one who plans rationally and meticulously and executes passionately. Those who work with him see him as a born leader who wins and respect him as an intellect unknown in most business or intellectual circles. Professional relationships with Michaels last decades, because he's known to be as loyal to his people as they are to him. Michaels is a well known strategist and moves quickly.

Clear Channel

In May of 1999 Zell and Michaels merged Jacor with Clear Channel Communications. While CEO of Clear Channel Michaels took the merged Jacor/Clear Channel from 425 stations to 1200 in a 3 year period. Michaels remained in the CEO roll until July 2002. A Wall street media analyst referred to Michaels departure from the business as “the end of radio”. In the 90's and early 2000's Michaels and former CBS President Mel Karmazin were perceived as the "last great radio industry tycoon's".

High Powered Programming

Michaels has always been known for his ability to program to the top of the ratings and has always had a loyalty to great talent. In 1992, Michaels hired a young Sean Hannity to join Jacor as a talk show host in Atlanta. In 1997 Michaels cut one of the largest deals in radio history with Rush Limbaugh to acquire the program. In 1998 Michaels made a deal with Dr. Laura Schlessinger, at the time the #2 talk show host in the country.

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