Published on Monday, 19 September 2011 21:32
Randy Michaels & Marc Chase, a pair of controversial figures, who were both recently higher-ups at the Chicago-based media giant Tribune Company, but tossed out due to highly embarrassing incidents, have once again landed on their feet. The duo have sold a company of theirs that dealt with radio streaming technologies and become advisors to the company that is taking over.
It was revealed late last week that IO World Media came to an agreement to acquire Michaels & Chase's "Up Your Ratings" (UYR) in a stock-for-stock transaction. Although the exact value of the transaction is not being revealed, the finalized Share Exchange Agreement and closing of the transaction is scheduled to take place before the end of this month.
Up Your Ratings is a private company owned by Randy Michaels and Marc Chase. UYR's main attraction for IO World Media is its pure play recommendation system "ScenarIO," which will give the user a preference-based custom audio product that is specific to the users tastes, locations, moods or activities. In addition to that system and intellectual property, UYR also gives IO World Media design plans for a proprietary state of the art audio storage, retrieval, and distribution system that eliminates the need for a Content Distribution Network.
Along with an unknown payday and becoming shareholders in IO World Media, Randy Michaels and Marc Chase are also be hired as Strategic Advisors to the leadership team of IO World Media.
IO World Media, Inc. is an internet media platform that delivers various streamed audio product. Its three operating businesses are: 1) Radioio where it streams a broad variety of different music genres to paying subscribers. 2) IO Business Music which provides background music found in various businesses. 3) Radioio Live is a wholly new operation that focuses on providing the Company's listeners with access to live and archived proprietary talent content. Former Randy Michaels mentoree and still-friend Bubba the Love Sponge is the first of the Radioio Live producers of live content.
Tom Bean, CEO of IO World said in the statement issued by the company late last week: "Since the Company's inception, everyone who has worked on this project has had the single goal of making the Company a leader in the Internet Media World. The acquisition of Up Your Ratings and its intellectual property, combined with the leadership and expertise of Randy and Marc as special advisors to the company, is a move that will without a doubt create differentiation and provide a competitive advantage for IWDM. This is a big step in the right direction in the Company's efforts to be a leader in the digital revolution."
Randy Michaels added in the statement" "IOWorld and RadioIO have long been innovators and pioneers in the Internet Radio Space including most recently with the launch of RadioIO Live and The Bubba the Love Sponge show. Marc and I look forward to continuing that tradition of innovation and with UYR's IP and IOWorld's platform we will implement a plan for internet radio that combines the best practices of traditional media with the most successful interactive characteristics of leading internet businesses. Traditional media is one to many. The distribution system itself creates a barrier to entry and creates market power. Mobil/Interactive digital is two way and can be one to many, one to some, or one to one."
Randy Michaels has been involved in media since the mid-1970s, when a young radio engineer named Benjamin Homel decided to take the on-air name of "Randy Michaels" and become a DJ and then an early shock jock. He later moved into radio programming & management, including a brief, but disastrous time programming in Chicago. (The one-week long "Hell 94.7" was a famous Michaels mistake.) He went on to become CEO of Jacor Communications. In 1999, he helped sell the Sam Zell-owned Jacor Communications to Clear Channel and became its CEO, until his ouster in 2002, after a series of embarrassing incidents and lawsuits. In 2005, Michaels and Oak Hill Capital partnered in creating Local TV LLC, a company that acquired a handful of local network-affiliated television stations, and became its CEO two years later. In December 2007, Michaels re-joined Sam Zell, who had just purchased Tribune Company. He began as Executive Vice President of Tribune Company and Chief Executive Officer of the Interactive and Broadcasting operations. Michaels quickly started to bring into the Tribune Company as many former Jacor & Clear Channel people as he could (including Marc Chase). In May 2008, he was promoted to Chief Operating Officer. In December of 2009, facing pressure from creditors, Sam Zell stepped down as Tribune CEO and named his good friend Randy Michaels as his replacement. Michaels was also named to the Board of Directors then. It is widely believed Michaels was quietly working as CEO even when Sam Zell held the title. The official changing of the guard was more of a formality. However, with the company under extreme scrutiny due to a messy bankruptcy, which was caused by Sam Zell's unusual leveraged buyout, Michaels' unprofessional antics within Tribune Tower started becoming public knowledge. Stories that were extremely embarrassing to the company, almost all of which centered around Michaels' bawdy behavior and the behavior of those he brought into the company, forced the Tribune Board of Directors to push out Michaels
before the end of 2010. Many of Michaels' hand-picked crony hires were soon forded out after him.
One of those quickly forced out was Marc Chase. Chase was one of the first brought to Tribune Company from Randy Michaels' radio past. Chase (real name: Marc Thompson) began in radio in the south as a DJ. Like Michaels, he quickly went into programming and management. He began working for Jacor-owned radio stations, becoming friendly with Randy Michaels. In 1996, Michaels appointed Chase as Regional Vice President of Programming for Jacor Communications. When Jacor was purchased by Clear Channel Communications, Chase became a Senior Vice President of Programming for Clear Channel, continuing his long relationship with Michaels. Despite no past experience with digital media, Randy Michaels brought Marc Chase to Chicago, naming him President of Tribune Interactive. The press release
announcing Chase's hire at the time had a supposedly comical fake resume and fake information about the man -- information that supposedly came from "Hugh Jass - A Reputable Media Source." Some felt the semi-comical press release was done to cover up the fact that he was wholly unqualified for the role he was given by Randy Michaels. After coming to TribCo, he also played the character of "Night Watchman" on the weekend "Movie Underground" show on WGN America for a while. In the embarrassing stories coming from Tribune Tower that were made public in 2010, Marc Chase's name came up often. In one now-infamous incident, it was reportedly Chase who stood alongside Randy Michaels on a balcony overlooking the Chicago Tribune newsroom, as the two men purposely & loudly made sexual remarks about the women working just a few feet below them. Chase was pushed out from Tribune Company just two weeks after Michaels was.
Both Michaels & Chase have kept busy with media properties since their forced leaving from Tribune Company. Michaels continues to operate his radio company Radioactive LLC, which owns a few radio stations in small & rural markets. He also developed and oversaw the Up Your Ratings project, along with Marc Chase. The biggest project has been the forming of Merlin Media LLC, a new radio corporation started along with Chicago-based private equity group GTCR, who invested over 8.5 billion in the company, and Emmis Communications. The company purchased Chicago's WLUP-FM & WKQX-FM (now WWWN-FM) as part of its initial portfolio of radio stations. Michaels is only a 1% owner
, but serves as CEO and is based out of Chicago. The Up Your Ratings/IO Media World transaction will have no direct effect on his Merlin Media CEO duties. At the start of this year, Marc Chase co-founded NuVooDoo Media Services (along other ousted Tribune ex-radio people, including Carolyn Gilbert and Leigh Jacobs), which is a media consulting & market research company.