Billboard Bureau Chief Memo: ‘I Don’t Choose To Leave, But I Must’

An e-mail from Tony Sanders, Billboard magazine’s Washington bureau chief, to colleagues yesterday:

Yesterday was my last day as Washington Bureau Chief for Billboard.

I don’t choose to leave, but I must. You see, it’s a business decision made by someone else — a decision that has everything to do with head counts and operating efficiencies.

I understand that, because I’ve reported on the effects of consolidation in the radio industry for more than 16 years. Now I am a casualty of consolidation in the publishing industry.

But I plan to continue writing about, analyzing and tracking the broadcast and music industries as they converge and compete on the Web and in the steadily-evolving, wireless space.

In that regard, I hope to see you soon.

Please change your contact information for me so that I can continue getting your press releases, your news advisories and your Wall Street analyses.

Thanks in advance,

Tony Sanders


Home Office:
Washington, D.C.


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    If you can stand it, Sanders’ e-mail to FishbowlNY today, including his shock in discovering the other bureau chiefs — “two great ladies” — on the hit list:

    From: “Tony Sanders”


    Date: Wed, 9 Aug 2006 09:49:16

    Subject: Billboard Axes Three Bureau Chiefs in Publication Consolidation

    Good morning, Mediabistro,

    On Monday, Aug. 8, the Dutch firm VNU finished consolidating the staff and operations for three of its magazines — Billboard, Billboard Radio Monitor and the newly-acquired Radio & Records — by terminating a number of staffers from each of the three magazines.

    I’m one of those who didn’t survive the cuts. Until Monday, I was the Washington Bureau Chief for Billboard magazine and a regular contributor to that magazine, and to Billboard’s now-defunct Billboard Radio Monitor. Unfortunate for me, but fortunate for others, the spirit and editorial inspiration that was Radio Monitor now lives inside the revamped, slick-paper, weekly radio trade that is the new R&R. My last feature story with the company appears in the first, newly-designed issue of R&R. It hits the streets this Friday, Aug. 11.

    I’ll survive and move on. I’ve been writing about the radio industry for 20 years at various trade publications. But now, as I hustle to assemble a new career for myself in D.C., I’m more concerned for two of my colleagues — two great ladies who also didn’t survive Monday’s cuts — Phyllis Stark, Billboard’s Nashville bureau chief and Melinda Newman, Billboard’s deputy bureau chief in L.A. In a sense, Phyllis and Melinda have spent most of their careers with Billboard. I was absolutely shocked to discover that they were on the same hit list as me.

    Phyllis and Melinda are two great women who were an inspiration for me — writers who knew far more than I did about the intricacies of the music business and who helped me, every week, get more up to speed. I’m an industry expert but I’ll always defer to the depth of knowledge that’s inside those ladies’ brains. I’ll miss their helpful comments and our brief conversations during the weekly editorial meetings. I’ve known Phyllis for years and years and we’ve seen each other at the annual trade shows. But I’ve only known Melinda personally during my tenure at Billboard. Still, one moment stands out: During my first day on the job, Melinda was the first person to reach out and send me a friendly “welcome aboard” email. I never told her this but, coming from her, that email felt like a real stamp of approval, a sign that I had made it into this special circle of industry experts who loved what they did and wrote about it every day.

    That’s what I’ll miss most, the camaraderie. But the business end of consolidation involves only one thing: operating efficiency. That’s where VNU, Billboard and R&R are now. I wish them luck.