Randy Michaels Swings A New Stick

Tribune Co. Chairman Sam Zell has put protégé and media consolidation mastermind Randy Michaels in charge of all of the company’s newspapers.

The promotion gives Michaels – a one-time shock jock whose career dovetails Zell’s going back to the Jacor/Clear Channel radio merger in 1995 – authority over the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune.

Zell e-mailed the announcement to employees, saying that Michaels "is exactly what Tribune needs to keep moving forward – smart, decisive, relentless, irreverent, fun and cutting-edge," the Times reported.

He was accused of being a bit more than that by former co-workers, including former Tampa, Fla., personality Liz Richards, who told ABC’s "20/20" that he had peculiar taste in office neckwear that some staff found offensive.

He also was said to be the force behind massive acquisitions that took Jacor from 25 to 450 stations before its 1998 merger with Clear Channel, which grew to more than 1,200 until it began selling stations in recent years.

In recent years, he’s been responsible for the Tribune Co.’s other newspapers, including the Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sentinel and Hartford Courant, as well as online businesses and two dozen TV stations, according to the Times. Michaels has also reportedly brought many former Clear Channel colleagues to work for Tribune.

"The advertising environment is tough, the real estate crisis is affecting our classified something awful and people are saying newspapers are dead. So, naturally, I want to take on even more responsibility for our print businesses," Michaels said in a statement.