Ego, Greed and Power
This week on the Radio Stuff Podcast (Episode 115), I spend 40 minutes examining the rise and fall of Cumulus founders Lew & John Dickey. The board of directors staged a coup last week and they are no longer running the company they founded in 1997. The Dickey’s fall from grace is a thousand miles in the opposite direction from their humble beginnings on Deepwood Lane in Toledo, Ohio where they fell in love with radio. Their Dad, once a sales manager at KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, was a radio station owner. In the early days of Cumulus, Lew & John set out to fix struggling radio stations in medium and small markets, investing in repairs, infrastructure, the employees and local communities. Somewhere along the path they lost their way. Ego, greed and power took over and they went on an acquisition bender that was seemingly reckless and without strategy beyond collecting new and more things. It’s a sad story that leaves thousands of people in its wake and amassed $2.5 billion worth of debt.
The Dickey’s story is a reminder to all of us that no matter how successful we become hold true to the guiding principles and moral compass that helped you achieve your initial success. Iti’s easy to get side tracked by your ego and make decisions that look good, make you feel powerful, and get you on TV, but if it is counter to your core beliefs – you are doomed to fail. Or at least more likely to.