The big shots over at the communications conglomerate, which owns hundreds of radio stations, including Power 105 Radio here in New York City, apparently felt that their corner offices on the 52nd floor, their $250-a-plate martini lunches every afternoon, and their summer Fridays spent skipping work in favor of a round or two at their super exclusive Westchester country club, had only served to put them out of touch with their listening public.
And as every executive worth their salt is taught in business school, the best way to appear like you care what the public thinks without actually having to care what the public thinks (which as we all know can seriously impact the bottom line) is to form a Local Advisory Board. That way, if anybody has a problem with your business practices, you can send the complaint to die with the Local Advisory Board, or if you want to implement some shady business practices, you can just twist some arms down at your corporate-friendly Local Advisory Board, thereby giving you plausible deniability when the public outrage ensues.
Clear Channel, however, had the ingenious idea of placing on their Local Advisory Board a council member who has been one of their most outspoken critics over the years: Councilman John Liu. It's devious, really; put Liu on the Local Advisory Board where he would be able to voice his complaints without holding pres conferences and public rallies.
And if Liu did go before the cameras to complain, the mucky-mucks over at Clear Channel could respond with a statement like, "We respect the councilman's opinion, which is why we have placed him on our Local Advisory Board, where we will address his concerns." Problem solved, or maybe not.
A little background. Clear Channel landed on Liu's Naughty List when they failed to accept responsibility for the actions of one of their DJ's, the alliteratively named Troi Torain, a.k.a. DJ Star. In 2006, Torain got into a well-rehearsed rap-style feud with a rival DJ, you know, pretending to be all hard and tough and upset to drum up some ratings.
However, Torain took it a little too far when he detailed his intent to rape, ejaculate on, and urinate on the daughter of his rival, which would have been bad enough if the girl were, say, 25 years old. However, the girl that Torain intended to do all of this to happened to be the tender young age of four.
But Torain really crossed the line when, on the air, he offered money to a listener who could provide him with the address of the girl's school.
The mother of the girl, obviously distraught and upset, approached Liu, who took on the personal crusade of calling for Torain's job, which the record-spinner eventually lost. Two days later, Torain was arrested by the NYPD Hate Crimes Unit. Prosecutors eventually dropped the charges in exchange for community service and a promise to stay out of trouble.
Torain then turned the tables on Liu - not the turntables, but rather the legal tables - by filing his own $55 million defamation lawsuit against the council member, which a federal judge threw out of court. Torain was apparently under the opinion that it was illegal to publicly criticize someone who threatens unthinkable acts against a four-year-old girl.
So that settles it, right? No. Liu wanted Clear Channel to donate $5.7 million, the amount paid to Torain while employed by Clear Channel, to a foundation that protects kids from sexual predators. They haven't cut that check, yet.
Liu declined Clear Channel's request to join their board with the phrase, "You have got to be kidding." (No, seriously, it's the second line of the letter.) He then signed the letter, "Incredulously, John C. Liu".
Doesn't sound like Liu was leaving the door open for a reconsideration of Clear Channel's offer.