Barbed Wire

Thunder bolts are brewing over at Wilkes-Barre’s Cumulus Radio – the stations formerly under the Citadel umbrella – now that at least three daytime personalities were struck by layoff lighting just in time for the holidays.

Word on the grapevine is that the magic is officially over for Magic 93 radio veteran Fran Pantuso while over at WBSX, Jim Bone got boned and Rebecca Frisbie was tossed only four days before Christmas. The bloodletting trifecta allegedly went down Dec. 21 and rumor has it poor Fran was on vacation when she got the call.

For those not in the know, Atlanta-based Cumulus Media closed a merger in September with Citadel in a $2.5 billion nationwide deal that leaves Cumulus the second-largest radio company in America. Locally, the Cumulus takeover included WBHT, MAGIC 93, WARM, The X and WSJR.

Nationally, the bloodletting began weeks ago at newly-acquired Cumulus stations from San Francisco to Detroit, Phoenix to New York, whereupon cost-cutting measures spelled massive hatchet jobs to long-time radio personalities from sea to shining sea.

Sadly, it was only a matter of time before our local favorites were unceremoniously shoved out the door although tongues were wagging that Magic 93 may have been spared due to its popularity and positive profit margin. Alas poor Fran, I knew ye well and wish for well-deserved greener ($$$) pastures in your future.

Lackawanna County’s new contract with Live Nation for concerts at the Toyota Pavilion, in the meantime, will mean less green for county taxpayers. Officials recently voted to extend a previous 10-year lease through December 2021 at roughly $640,000 per year – or $140,000 less than the county’s annual debt service of $780,000 on the venue, according to published reports.

Live Nation previously paid $800,000 for the lease and when asked why they were deeming the concert venue akin to a Kmart Blue Light Special, Commissioner Corey O’Brien told reporters it was either that or no concerts whatsoever with taxpayers left footing the entire debt-service bill.

“The situation was one of two – either don’t have concerts and we’re paying $780,000 on debt service with no revenue coming in, or we continue to have concerts and we’re short,” Commissioner Corey O’Brien said. Sadly, the debt shortfall is expected to come from the county’s general fund, a.k.a. the region’s already beleaguered taxpayers.

Perhaps to make up for the loss, taxpayers could be afforded a pair of concert tickets to the show of their choice this upcoming season, since we’re all still waiting for our front row seats to Paul Sorvino’s magnum opus, “The Trouble with Cali.”

Honestly, that barter would work fine for me, especially now that Van Halen – replete with David Lee Roth – announced an extensive 2012 tour on its website this past Tuesday. Although venues have yet to be named, tickets go on sale Jan. 10 with the lineup including Diamond Dave, Eddie and Alex Van Halen and Eddie (and Valerie Bertinelli’s) son, Wolfgang.

Missing, sadly, will be bassist Michael Anthony as well as Jack Daniels (Eddie is proud graduate of a handful rehab stints), although Ben Gay will most definitely be part of that crew, especially now that the 57-year-old Roth is still gracing the stage with his legendary scissor kicks.

Should the legends of Van Halen hit Montage Mountain this upcoming summer, you can bet Rude Rube will be there, analgesic cream on, as I pay homage to the best band to ever come out of Pasadena. And yes, I’ll be claiming my tickets as a tax credit.