It's been another crazy week – video iPods, payola firings, the Lincoln Financial/Jefferson Pilot deal – but for me, the big story was the departure of Tim Sabean from Infinity's WYSP to run Howard Stern's Sirius channels. A lot of terrestrial radio people have left in recent years to try other things, but Tim's departure has really got me thinking about our business. Maybe for you, this hasn't happened. Or perhaps if it has, it was someone like Lee Abrams or Howard Stern or Tom Calderone or David Lebow that had an impact on you.
Tim's big move last week really made me start wondering what's happening to our business. When someone like Tim Sabean leaves terrestrial radio, you have to stop and think things through. I have known Tim since we were the young guys at ABC – Tim in Chicago and me in Detroit. We have worked together for the better part of 30 years – at WLS and KLOS back in the ABC days. And later, we helped take a startup Classic Rock station in Chicago – WCKG – to then unheard of heights.
When Tim made the move to YSP about 15 years ago, I was there. Together (and let's not leave out Ken Stevens, Howard Stern, and a great staff of incredibly committed people) we took that station to #1 12+. Later when the format was changed from Classic to Active Rock (go figure), we gutted that out, too. And when I finally left YSP a few years ago, and went across the street to MMR and MGK, Tim continued to stick it out, fight the good fight, and leave a lot of himself out on the radio playing field.
Tim comes from a family of radio people. His dad was in the business, and Tim used to love telling people that just about the only subject he could really talk about was radio. While some say that radio is in their blood, Tim was the epitome of one of our industry's truly positive supporters. I don't know that I've ever come across a more focused, committed radio guy than him.
So when he made his seismic announcement last week, I started wondering how he views this industry of ours. And of course, some of you reading this may be thinking that Tim isn't leaving radio at all. He's just moving to a different room in the house. But from my point of view, his exodus from terrestrial radio is a seminal and symbolic event.
Tim, good luck. And congratulations on a career that most would envy, and few could pull off.