Roger Parry, the London based overseer of the non-US operations of Texan-headquartered radio titan Clear Channel, is unused to impertinence from the lower ranks – especially, it seems, from such comparative small fry as Capital Radio, one of the UK’s largest radio groups.
Parry’s irritation was sparked by comments made to the Radio Festival in Birmingham earlier this month by Capital’s ceo David Mansfield [WAMN: 10-Jul-03]. The recently enacted Communications Bill bill is predicted to open the floodgates of US investment in British media, and Capital is seen by many as a prime target for Clear Channel.
But Mansfield told the festival audience: “Capital’s corporate culture would not sit well with that of Clear Channel … there are some fundamental cultural differences in approaches between a company like Clear Channel and a company like Capital.
Continued Mansfield: “Lowry Mays [head of Clear Channel’s controlling Mays family and group chairman/ceo] said at this conference last year that his business was all about selling hamburgers and Fords. But we are driven by listeners.”
So far, so innocuous. But Mansfield then inserted his barb: “Clear Channel had made it clear it would enter the UK ‘by invitation only’. I won't be picking up the phone.”
Parry, chairman of London-based outdoor specialist More Group, before its absorption by Clear Channel in 1998, sprang to the defence of his masters with an unpleasant sexist sneer.
“Saying he [Mansfield] would rebuff Clear Channel is a bit like Ann Widdecombe [a British politician] putting out a press release saying she's going to turn down a date with Brad Pitt,” Parry jibed. “She should be so lucky. The invitation's got to come in the first place. I’m delighted that David doesn't want a date with us, but as it happens it wasn't on offer.”
He then dropped his his guard, revealing that what really irked him was Mansfield’s repetition of Lowry Mays’ blooper about ‘hamburgers and Ford’. Fumed Parry: “They want to portray us as mindlessly commercial, only interested in selling hamburgers.”
“What gets to me,” he admitted, “is this thing about there would be a cultural clash. How does he know? If we were to be involved in UK radio we could only do it through the medium of UK management. We're not going to ship over a bunch of Americans to run UK radio stations. We would hire the best local talent who almost certainly would come with the business when we bought it.”
It now seems unlikely that Mansfield would be among them!
Data sourced from: MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff