First Round: Bain kills hip-hop

It never rains but it pours for Bain Capital. As if the whole Mitt Romney thing wasn’t causing enough trouble, now the Boston-based buyout shop is being hammered by a local paper in St. Louis for shutting down one of the city’s two hip-hop and R&B stations.

Back in 2008, Bain acquired media conglomerate Clear Channel, in a joint deal with Thomas H Lee Partners. But the downturn led to a severe decline in advertising revenue, forcing the firms to cut the company’s permanent costs by over $600 million.

Deep cuts may be great for records, but they’re terrible for radio stations, and St. Louis’ 100.3 The Beat suffered as a result, according to local newspaper The West End Word.

“In July of 2008, 100.3 the Beat was sentenced to death row when Bain Capital ‘merged’ with Clear Channel,” writes columnist MK Stallings. “The death knell sounded on Oct. 30, 2009 when most of the on-air personalities were fired, and Halloween-themed music replaced the hip hop that filled the airwaves for a decade.” (Do they have death knells on death row?)

 Now, Bain Capital has gotten a bad rap lately (sorry), and sometimes with good reason. But in this case First Round feels compelled to leap to its defence. After all, Clear Channel also owns the city’s other hip-hop station, Majic 104.9. And as much as the spirit of St. Louis soars to the grooves of Nelly’s seminal hit ‘Hot in Herre’, does the city really need two stations to hear it?

More importantly, shouldn’t the hip-hop community, of all people, sympathise with private equity’s motives? As Wu Tang preaches: “Cash rules everything around me, C.R.E.A.M. get the money, dolla dolla bill y’all”.