Friday, July 3, 2009

Something afoot at the Kansas City Star?... high level meetings at the Star this week raise speculation that something big is about to happen

A tipster informs me that hot shots from McClatchy's corporate office have been at 1729 Grand for a few days this week, and it looks like they are having meetings about something serious.

Publisher Mark Zieman and Randy Waters, VP of Production, are among those involved in the meetings with the corporate suits.

But everybody is tight-lipped about the purpose of the meetings.

So what could be going on?

Are they doing "due diligence" work, preparing to put the KC Star on the market?

That seems unlikely to me, but McClatchy is reportedly shopping the Miami Herald around, so hey, why not see if they can find a local buyer with deep pockets.

Maybe management is discussing an offer for the Star's printing facility -- the one nicknamed the crystal casket. Or, maybe they are discussing spinning off some of the Star's assets for cash.

Given the recent history off layoffs at the Star, you can't help but think the bigwigs are discussing another round of layoffs.

Update: Nick has heard talk about "right-sizing," spinning individual properties off, and, cutting the paper back to 6 days a week.
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28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Rhonda Lokeman has escaped and is looking for both alcohol and a ride.

RED ALERT! RED ALERT!

John Altevogt said...

The Star could not have worse management. What does it say that The Kansan (now online only) kicked The Star's ass from on end of Wyandotte County to the other with virtually no resources under Roy Teicher?

And what does it say now that, as a conservative, I get my news about Kansas City from The Pitch, a left-wing alternative newspaper that actually does do investigative reporting.

The Star is an embarrassment to our community and serves only to perpetuate corruption, not fight it.

Anonymous said...

The Star has been on the block for months and the only interested group that I am aware of wouldn't commit more than 10 million for the entire mess. Beyond that, I can't imagine anyone in KC that would be interested outside of the Hall family, and they're closing shop and laying off all over the place themselves.

I think there will be a management shake up of some magnitude. The Star has given McClatchy more black eyes over the past year than the rest of the outfit combined. Zieman is clearly not in control of this facility or if he is, he is totally incompetent. That is probably the reason he was registering to vote in multiple jurisdictions under different names.

Anonymous said...

Maybe they'll do an all online thing as a test capsule for the other papers.

Anonymous said...

At least one retired executive mentioned that possibility last Sunday. Everyone looked around to see if the Aquarium roof was going to collapse. It was too sunny for lightening.

John Altevogt said...

I have hear the possibility of going all online, hence protecting folks like Whitlock and others who had had some success with syndication and the Internet.

It matters not, the less this dungheap does, the better our community will be for it.

lincolnparishnewsonline said...

The KC Star, The NandO, The Bees, all the entire McClatchy chain is "worth" only this:

1.) The scrap value of the presses.
2.) The wholesale price of the desks, computers (obsolete), and chairs.
3.) The value of salvageable bricks from the buildings, less the cost to demolish.
4.) The value of the real estate not encumbered by a mortgage.

Deduct from that total whatever pension liability the company has.

That's it. Nothing more.

Anonymous said...

Lincoln Parish News Online - WOW!!

Now there's a powerhouse source of news.

Anonymous said...

I'd read anything by Walter Abbott long before something from a McClatchy propagandist....and his credit is good.

John Altevogt said...

Isn't it amazing how the anonymous cowards come out from under their rocks whenever someone has the balls to identify themselves.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it amazing how John always labels someone (usually "coward" or "corrupt") if they say something he disagrees with.

Walt said...

No individual MNI property is available for sale, without the agreement of the bond holders. If they were, I think the San Diego Union Tribune sale sets the market for what an MNI property might bring. The Union Tribune sold for its real estate value plus $10,000,000. In no case that I am aware of do any of the MNI papers have real estate as valuable as the Union Tribune's What is worse, for MNI, is the papers are so encumbered with debt that to get a release from the bond holders would be impossible under these circumstances. Forget a single property sale.

John Altevogt said...

6:18 If the shoe fits, and I'm betting it does....

Anonymous said...

Forget a single property sale.

===========
Actually Walt the KC Star would be the exception to the rule. If McClatchy could unload that and get out from under the cost of the glass mausoleum the banks would allow a sale in a heart beat.

The thing is, no one in their right mind would pay even the deep discount that they are advertising the building at.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it amazing how John always labels someone (usually "coward" or "corrupt") if they say something he disagrees with.



=======

You know, Mike Hendricks has that same habit as you of being a total prick and almost inviting people to kick the living dog shit out of him, and then declaring that he is being picked on "simply because he disagrees with them"

His wife has that very same habit. Is that you Rocky?

Anonymous said...

Her name is Roxie you SOB.

Nick said...

I've heard persistently that there is still some more right-sizing to be done at the Star; I also had the chance to quiz Dave Helling for about 10 minutes after a panel discussion last month and asked if McClatchy had seriously thought about spinning the individual properties off - he responded that, yes, there were ongoing "high level" (as in corporate) talks on the subject...

Perhaps those chats have become more serious.

As for the price being too high, I don't know that McClatchy would balk at say only $15 million for the Star proper.

The Great Glass Goof is another matter: the current asking price of $65 mil, even as a lease-back arrangement, is steep...

Finally, there has also been talk out of Grand Street about not publishing the Star on Saturdays, the thinking being that it's a very down readership day.

Who knows?

Personally, I hope McClatchy is removing Zieman; corporate certainly has reason...

Walt said...

"Actually Walt the KC Star would be the exception to the rule. If McClatchy could unload that and get out from under the cost of the glass mausoleum the banks would allow a sale in a heart beat."

The number for MNI and the bondholders is EBITDA. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. As long as debt does not exceed seven times EMITDA, MNI is in compliance with its covenants on the bonds. Thus, each property is evaluated by its contribution to the top line, not the bottom. The expenses associated with the Star's building are interest (the I from EBITDA), depreciation (the D) and principal repayment (the A).

Selling the Star might very well help improve the bottom line be relieving the company of the interest, depreciation and amortization associated with one of the Star's buildings, but it will also hurt more where it counts, top line earnings. Unfortunately for the good people at the Star and the rest of MNI, it's sink or swim together.

Walt-in-Durham

Philmo said...

It's clearly obvious by the vitriol that is being spewed on here in such a voluminous amount that it would make the guys from GWAR jealous, that some of you have probably spent your entire working life behind a desk being coddled and spoon-fed.

Say what you want about the Star because we all know that they have been pricks since day one, but quit picking on my building.

I take umbrage at your juvenile and simplistic slurs. Any of you fellows even go to college? I would think that you smarty-pants a-holes could do a little better in the prose department than your passive-aggressive attitudes would suggest.

It's a fantastic place to work. I know. I've been working in that building before it even opened for business.

I have a suggestion. Why don't you know-it-all's that live in the K.C. area go down to the main Star building today. Once there, go in and head to the sub-basement. Find yourself a clean place to rest your boney asses and ....nothing.

Just sit there and contemplate the majestic beauty and aromatic offerings of "The Dungeon". Take your time, there's no need to hurry because in order to understand how nice that new building is, you're gonna need to spend the same amount of time in "The Dungeon" as I did. 19 years.

In closing I would suggest that until you know what you're talking about, shut your pie-holes.

Pick on the Star all you want, leave my building out of it.

Anonymous said...

Take your time, there's no need to hurry because in order to understand how nice that new building is, you're gonna need to spend the same amount of time in "The Dungeon" as I did. 19 years.

~

I guess I am qualified not to like your building CoolValley. I'd take the old building any day. I spent 23 years there. Combine that with my father and his father, we're talking over 80 years.

You have a building that they overpaid for and can't afford the payments. They're upside down on an eyesore and ready to eat the loss. Even at that, 65 million is a ridiculous price to pay for a single tenant building that may well not even be in business for another year.


P.S. Tell someone to wash the F*(King Windows for crying out loud. It's looking more and more like a Prospect Mansion every day!

P.S.S. You need to add a few nicknames!

Crystal Casket
Glass Albatross
G Money's Target Range
The Aquarium
The KC Casket Company

Hell, they even have a joke about how the presses are lovingly preserved...just like Lenin, Stalin and Mao. In a glass sarcophagus.

Philmo said...

Some of those names are pretty good. Good job.

As for you and your family working at the main building...

I would take the new building any day over working down in that hole with hardly any windows on the basement level and no windows at all in the sub-basement.

There is also the added bonus of working on much better and much cleaner presses.

Ex-worker Bee said...

Seems Pruitt and the wrecking crew keep getting it wrong. Too bad they shut down the Modesto Bee press. They had a world class quality printing facility and now the Goss Flexoliner is sitting there collecting dust. Even collecting dust it is still cleaner than the product that is now being printed on the ancient press in Sacramento. Obviously McClatchy has lost sight of their mission statement to ...meet or exceed their customers expectations on a daily basis. BTW The Modesto Bee building is apparently being sold to the local Junior college. The college will then lease back office space to the meager, overworked staff that is left. What to do with the press...sell it if they can find a buyer...if not get out the cutting torches, ship it to China and turn it into re-bar.

Anonymous said...

I would take the new building any day over working down in that hole with hardly any windows on the basement level and no windows at all in the sub-basement.

==============

That is probably my fault. A wrench accidentally slipped out of my hand and bounced through the first window next to the Megee entrance during the Wildcat walk out in the 1970's. (I was young and clumsy)

I took the opportunity to peek into the broken window and ask the Production Manager (who was now working for a living) if this meant that they were not going to sponsor the Softball Team that year.

The next day they settled the strike, painted and fenced the windows over for all time. The bastards never did sponsor the softball team that year!

John Altevogt said...

What a fantastic history lesson you guys have added for a great 4th of July thread. It's been a ball reading it.

Anonymous said...

I'm Sorry, but everyone I have ever spoken to about the new building agrees, it is UGLY, FUGLY actually.

Bill Nelson said...

If that guy at 2:50 had ever worked in the old pressroom in the main building then he wouldn't of wrote none of that stuff. He spent his time eating ice cream in the nelson room hanging out with his buddies in sports.

"Too bad they shut down the Modesto Bee press. They had a world class quality printing facility and now the Goss Flexoliner is sitting there collecting dust".

The guy that wrote this is joking. he's crying about them not using this press? WTF. It's a flexo. ancient technology. and the one the bee has is over 20 years old. while i'm sure they could of done a refit to bring it up to modern standards, it's not going to outdo a kba commander press. it wouldn't even come close. mcclatchy saw what a money pit it was and quit using it. how long have you had a cellphone? 20 years ago you were using a ma bell landline. you might as well bitched about the bee and their abandonment of papyrus to switch to handmade paper that comes from trees. and i won't even mention goss and their notable disappearance from the newspaper press market. c'mon, if you want to talk shit about mcclatchy you should use examples that are a little closer to reality, instead of ones that you think no one can verify, but sound half-assed good

and then there's this guy who did his research at the local watering hole.

"I'm Sorry, but everyone I have ever spoken to about the new building agrees, it is UGLY, FUGLY actually".

he's trying to make us think that he's a combo of the consumers union, the AIA, the NAA and j.d.powers and associates. HA!

if mcclatchy has screwed you guys over, i'm sorry, but the line for that club is very long. you're out of your job at a newspaper and are scared little boys who are still afraid to talk smack about pruitt and his gang, even after they kicked you out of the club. so you talk shit about a building you've probably never even been in and probably never seen in person.

you guys are an ate up bunch of passive-aggressive peter pans. you deserve each other and this shitty little piece of crap blog. that goes for you too mr. altevogt, you nazi lover.

Anonymous said...

and John Altevogt serves only to perpetuate idiocy and the need for late term abortions.

Anonymous said...

Bill Nelson? Little Willy! Is that you.

For those of you who don't know little willy, he spent his entire first shift running all over the building looking for who had the paper stretcher.

Finally the lady who ran the paper cutter in the sub basement gave him a mop wringer and sent him back up stairs. He was so mad when he found out they made a fool of him he threatened the entire press room with a cutting rubber.

So how's it going Willy? Still hanging out by Crown Center?