Published on Friday, 22 October 2010 16:04
It is finally official. As expected, TribCo CEO Randy Michaels has left the building. Rather, he has left Tribune Tower -- for good. As first reported at the start of this week
by writers for the Tribune, the New York Times and elsewhere, Michaels was forced out by a company that could no longer tolerate his well-documented crass behavior and antics. The public embarrassment that Michaels and his hand-picked cronies from his equally embarrassing radio career, was hurting Tribune Company's attempts at exiting bankruptcy and settling with its many creditors.
Randy Michaels, who enjoys sending out memos via email, left with no goodbye word to his now-former employees. However, the four people who will be replacing him temporarily issued the following memo to the troops a short while ago:
From: Tribune Communications
Sent: Friday, October 22, 2010 3:52 PM
Subject: Message from Don Liebentritt, Nils Larsen, Tony Hunter and Eddy Hartenstein
Tribune's Board of Directors today accepted Randy Michaels' resignation and voted to establish a four-member Executive Council to assume the responsibilities of the Office of Chief Executive and President, and to oversee the company's publishing and broadcasting operations. The board's actions will be announced in the attached press release, which will be issued shortly.
The members of the Executive Council are: Don Liebentritt, Chief Restructuring Officer, Nils Larsen, Chief Investment Officer, Tony Hunter, President, Publisher and CEO of Chicago Tribune Company, and Eddy Hartenstein, Publisher and CEO of Los Angeles Times Communications LLC. In addition, Nils Larsen has been named Chairman of Tribune Broadcasting.
Jerry Kersting will continue in his role as Tribune Broadcasting President and have day-to-day responsibility for overseeing our television stations, WGN America and WGN Radio; he'll work very closely with the Council.
Gerry Spector will continue as Chief Operating Officer, reporting directly to the Council. He will provide guidance on several systems and infrastructure projects currently underway across the company. His knowledge, insight and continued participation in these projects will be invaluable.
The board took this action as a way of ensuring stability and continuity for the company and its various media businesses.
Each of us recognizes the company's strengths and believes in its future. We also believe that Tribune's greatest asset is its employees and we know how much pride you take in your work and in this company. During the last few weeks the company has drawn a lot of media attention, much of it negative. That coverage has diverted attention from the things that matter most: The quality of our media products, the talent and dedication of our people, and the very real progress that we've made over the last two-and-a-half years.
Now, it is time to move forward and focus on the future. Our business units are in the process of developing their financial and operating plans for 2011 and we are headed into the most important time of the year for our advertising partners. We're also making progress on resolving our Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases.
There are many reasons to feel good about our future. There is a lot of work to do, and a lot of opportunity; we can capitalize by staying focused on serving our customers and communities.
Thank you for everything you do for this company every day. Keep up the great work.
Don, Nils, Tony and Eddy
The emailed memo above also contained an attached press release. Here is what the press release said:
Randy Michaels Resigns as CEO of Company
Tribune Company today announced that its board of directors has appointed an Executive Council that will assume the responsibilities of the Office of the Chief Executive and President and oversee the company's publishing and broadcast operations. Randy Michaels has resigned as the company's CEO, effective immediately.
The executive council is composed of: Don Liebentritt, Tribune's Chief Restructuring Officer, Nils Larsen, Tribune's Chief Investment Officer, Tony Hunter, President, Publisher and CEO of Chicago Tribune Company and Eddy Hartenstein, Publisher and CEO of Los Angeles Times Communications, LLC. Nils Larsen has also been named Chairman of Tribune Broadcasting. The Executive Council will report directly to Tribune's board of directors.
Tribune Broadcasting President Jerry Kersting will work very closely with the Council and will continue in his role overseeing the company's broadcast operations, including its 23 television stations, cable network WGN America, and WGN Radio. The company's Chief Operating Officer, Gerry Spector, will report directly to the Council.
"These appointments are designed to ensure a smooth, seamless transition of management responsibilities to a group of experienced executives who have a strong understanding of the company's media businesses," said Sam Zell, Tribune's Chairman of the Board. "The Council will provide the company with stability and continuity as it enters what is traditionally the busiest time of the year for its business units and their advertising partners. Tribune has strong brands, valuable assets and innovative, dedicated employees," Zell continued. "Its media businesses have generated solid financial performance through the first three quarters of 2010 - the company is building on that momentum."
As previously announced, Tribune expects to file a plan of reorganization with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware later today.
There not yet word of just how much of a separation package Randy Michaels will be receiving from Tribune Company. His annual salary plus bonus was rumored to be between $3 and $4 million per year. Executive severance packages can often be the equivalent of 1-2 years salary, making this goodbye potentially costing the company as much as $8 million.
Randy Michaels departure signals the beginning of the end of a very dark chapter in Chicago media history, national media history and Tribune history.
Though Randy Michaels owns a few homes, including one in Chicago, it is expected he will soon move back to his Covington, OH house, leaving the area.
Tribune Company owns 23 television stations, 13 newspapers, various magazines, one radio station and many other websites and companies. Locally, among the company's properties include the Chicago Tribune, RedEye, Hoy, Chicago Magazine, WGN-AM, WGN-TV, CLTV, and WGN America.