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Freedom paid out $3.7M in bonuses to top executives

Freedom paid out $3.7M in bonuses to top executives

Most Freedom Communications employees probably have never heard of the company’s MBO bonus program, but the higher-ups know all about it.

The program paid out more than $3.7 million to Freedom’s top executives during the past year, not to mention other expenses such as partner distributions, automobile reimbursements, club memberships and, for at least one executive, housing allowances, according to federal bankruptcy filings.

At least 49 Freedom executives, including publishers at various newspapers across the country, dipped into the MBO bonus program during the 12 months leading up to the company’s bankruptcy filing in September.

Freedom CEO Scott Flanders received two MBO payments totaling more than $1.1 million during that time, including a $400,000 bonus only weeks before the company filed bankruptcy. Others, such as Orange County Register Publisher Terry Horne and Community Newspapers Division President Jonathan Segal, received bonuses totaling six-figures.

Horne, who was publisher of the East Valley Tribune for a short time before heading up the Register, received roughly $200,000. Segal, who was in charge of the division that included the Tribune, received approximately $189,000.

Tribune employees were told Nov. 2 that the paper would shut down at the end of the year, following 118 years of publishing in Mesa. Tribune Publisher Julie Moreno received two MBO bonuses that totaled more than $65,000.

In addition to the bonuses, there were other perks to holding a top job in the company. Freedom Broadcasting executive Doreen Dawson-Wade was reimbursed more than $7,000 for club membership payments, and Flanders was given more than $70,000 in housing allowances.

Following is a list of the Freedom executives who received bonuses under the MBO program (dollar figures are rounded to the nearest thousand):

Olaf Frandsen, Freedom Newspapers
$72,000 (four MBO bonuses)
John Greider – Freedom Newspapers
$9,000 (one MBO bonus)
Tyler Patton – Freedom Newspapers
$19,000 (two MBO bonuses)
James Shrader – Freedom Newspapers of Illinois
$27,000 (four MBO bonuses)
Richard Davis – Seymour Tribune Company
$4,000 (one MBO bonus)
Richard Fazzone – Porterville Recorder Company
$30,000 (five MBO bonuses)
James Shine – Lima News
$16,000 (three MBO bonuses)
Jennie Lambert – Gaston Gazette
$53,000 (three MBO bonuses)
Ray Sullivan – Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico
$37,000 (three MBO bonuses)
Stephan Wingert – Daily Press
$60,000 (six MBO bonuses)
Paul Mauney – Times-News Publishing Company
$35,000 (four MBO bonuses)
Patrick Canty – Odessa American
$66,000 (four MBO bonuses)
David Phillips – Missouri Freedom Newspapers
$20,000 (three MBO bonuses)
Kent Kilpatrick – Illinois Freedom Newspapers
$34,000 (two MBO bonuses)
Arthur Foster – Freedom Shelby Star
$34,000 (two MBO bonuses)
Vernon Debolt – Freedom Eastern North Carolina
$31,000 (five MBO bonuses)
P. McKibbon – Freedom Colorado Information
$25,000 (one MBO bonus)
Steven Pope – Freedom Colorado Information
$30,000 (two MBO bonuses)
Julie Moreno – Freedom Arizona Information
$65,000 (two MBO bonuses)
Thomas Conner – Florida Freedom Newspapers
$30,000 (three MBO bonuses)
Karen Hanes – Florida Freedom Newspapers
$63,000 (four MBO bonuses)
Erik Thomason – Florida Freedom Newspapers
$18,000 (one MBO bonus)
David Schmall – Appeal Democrat
$53,000 (five MBO bonuses)
Michael Burns – Freedom Newspapers
$150,000 (four MBO bonuses)
Dianne Ippolito – Freedom Newspapers
$68,000 (four MBO bonuses)
Levi Knapp – Freedom Newspapers
$49,000 (three MBO bonuses)
Teresa Nelson – Freedom Newspapers
$61,000 (three MBO bonuses)
Jonathan Segal – Freedom Newspapers
$189,000 (two MBO bonuses)
Michael Costa – Freedom Broadcasting Tennessee
$25,000 (two MBO bonuses)
Lawrence Beaulieu – Freedom Broadcasting Texas
$26,000 (three MBO bonuses)
Kingsley Kelley – Freedom Broadcasting Oregon
$42,000 (three MBO bonuses
Robert Furlong – Freedom Broadcasting New York
$29,000 (three MBO bonuses)
James Lutton – Freedom Broadcasting Michigan
$33,000 (two MBO bonuses)
Doreen Dawson-Wade – Freedom Broadcasting
$155,000 (two MBO bonuses)
Edward Brien Kennedy – Freedom Broadcasting
$44,000 (two MBO bonuses)
William Rinchik – Freedom Broadcasting
$51,000 (two MBO bonuses)
Katherine Bartzoff – Freedom Communications Inc.
$5,000 (two MBO bonuses)
Douglas Bennett – Freedom Communications Inc.
$199,000 (two MBO bonuses)
Ken Brusic – Freedom Communications Inc.
$40,000 (three MBO bonuses)
Marcy Bruskin – Freedom Communications Inc.
$98,000 (two MBO bonuses)
Scott Flanders – Freedom Communications Inc.
$1,150,000 (two MBO bonuses)
Michael Henry – Freedom Communications Inc.
$41,000 (three MBO bonuses)
Terry Horne – Freedom Communications Inc.
$200,000 (three MBO bonuses)
Mark McEachen – Freedom Communications Inc.
$33,000 (one MBO bonus)
JoAnne Norton – Freedom Communications Inc.
$31,000 (one MBO bonus)
Rachel Sagan – Freedom Communications Inc.
$113,000 (two MBO bonuses)
Richard Sant – Freedom Communications Inc.
$43,000 (four MBO bonuses)
Cathy Taylor – Freedom Communications Inc.
$35,000 (three MBO bonuses)
Nancy Trillo – Freedom Communications Inc.
$79,000 (two MBO bonuses)

  1. Caring Less & Less
    Caring Less & Less11-06-2009

    Great to see a company squanders its resources by laying off talent while rewarding incompetence. How can Flanders given a bonus for bankrupting the company? That is the only thing he did the whole time he was a Freedom!

  2. Jean Whitney
    Jean Whitney11-06-2009

    Is there not bankruptsy laws against yjis kind of miss use.

  3. Tired of the BS
    Tired of the BS11-06-2009

    Wow. I would have thought a website that allegedly does quality reporting would have vetted this information. Heck, it’s public record! But no. Instead the numbers are highly inflated in at least a dozen cases. Simple math is all it takes, but apparently the so-called reporter lacks those skills.
    It’s a shame that many on this list who have worked their backsides off for so many years have to be dragged through the mud with shoddy reporting and the commenters who have no life at all.
    Such a pity.

  4. Just curious
    Just curious11-06-2009

    Can you do a little more digging on this issue? I guarantee you that there are more than 45 people in the company who received MBOs last year.

  5. IFeelSick

    OMG I can’t work anymore considering I had my 5% taken away and now I have to look at this. I think I am going to hurl!

  6. scott flanders
    scott flanders11-06-2009

    When you look into the Freedom Communications SOFA you’ll see a PAYMENT during the bankruptcy of more than $165,000 to the Anahiem Ducks Arena for a luxury sky box.

  7. Interested Observer
    Interested Observer11-06-2009

    Fascinating to note that the (former) finance chief who was shifted to a far lesser role took $199,000

  8. scott flanders
    scott flanders11-06-2009

    All this information is available–free of charge –on a public website

    Go to

  9. Posie Foo
    Posie Foo11-06-2009

    @Tired of the BS

    Tired, you are either an executive or you don’t work for Freedom. And your little dig about the other commenters? You posted a comment and thus became a commenter yourself. Using your logic, you also have no life at all. See how that all comes together? That being clarified, I’ll make my comment now. As a long time employee of Freedom, I, too, have worked my backside off for Freedom for many years and what MBO bonus did I, or many other non-executive workers, receive? Well, let’s see if someone can cull together that information on a similar list and we can compare the figures to see what’s more unfair: The hypocrisy and disregard that are the bonuses paid to these muddied executives or the loss of salary for the hundreds of others who were laid off or the current employees who’ve experienced mandatory furloughs and a 5% pay cut in the last six months, all for the betterment of the company’s bottom line.

  10. Tired of the BS
    Tired of the BS11-07-2009

    Sweet. You added more names, and you still have a half dozen spelled wrong. This is amazing.
    Oh, and let’s not forget that several of the numbers are still fouled up. While I have the ability to correct, I won’t. That would be too easy.
    It would be more appropriate for the writer, who is hiding with no byline, to confess his/her inability to put together an accurate report and disappear into a dark abyss. Oh, and the editor’s should go, too, if there even IS an editor.
    While I cannot condone all of these bonuses, some of these people in the field busted their backsides under trying circumstances. To crucify every executive is grossly unfair.
    I will refrain from calling garbage like this ‘journalism.’ It isn’t even opinion, and it’s darn sure not analysis. It’s trash work by a cowardly writer and website.
    Challenge those who should be challenged. But leave the rest alone. There are many good people on this list who don’t deserve the grief.

  11. MP

    Are there any requirements for how these MBO bonuses are handed out? Do executives have to reach certain goals to get the bonuses? If so, what are the goals?

  12. not a  person
    not a person11-09-2009

    Mr. Tired of the BS, then what is the link to the public record?

  13. M Hood
    M Hood11-09-2009

    Freedom was a good company to work for and this has been a tough year so I am glad this folks were taken care of, I am sure they worked harder this year than any other of their career.

    Looks like a case of “gotcha journalism” to me, after 20 years with Freedom I have never been fired with more grace.

  14. smoothjazzandmore


  15. freedomjane

    @Tired of the BS
    To Tired of BS,

    Many of the people on this list did not ”work their backsides off” as you state.
    Many on this list were and still are part of the reason why of this wonderful company fell apart. They deserved no reward.
    Sales people of Freedom were not paid commissions or bonus’s if they did not make their goals, so please tell me why senior management made bonus’s when the company did not make goal? How is that OK? The people who did work their backsides off, in many cases were laid off during the same time top executives were making their bonuses. How is this OK? How is outsourcing to India a good decision?
    Top executives made and still are making poor decisions that are hurting this company. These top executives are so out of touch with the realities of working in this company and have no idea of the damages they have cause with their decisions.
    They deserve no rewards and many should be fired for a total lack of knowledge of the market place.

  16. Matt Bunk
    Matt Bunk11-09-2009

    This is not an anonymous blog. The writer is Matt Bunk. The link to check this work can be found at:
    If anyone sees anything that’s not correct, feel free to email me at

  17. ann

    @Tired of the BS
    1. The writer isn’t hiding with no byline. You are.
    2. Possible that the writer misspelled some names. Names can be tricky. Knowing, however, that a plural ‘s’ doesn’t come with an apostrophe is grade school grammar. (It’s “editors” not “editor’s.”)
    3. Whether the people on this list are good or hardworking is hardly the point. The people who took pay cuts and unpaid furloughs (or even got fired) are good, hardworking people. It’s about the math. Money in the executives’ pockets came directly out of the pockets of the people on the lower rungs. (Oh – by the way – that use of an apostrophe on the plural noun I just did there? That’s because it’s a possessive plural. Look it up.)
    4. The writer did not crucify anyone. This is good, straight reporting with no opinion or commentary. It is your opinion that some of the people on the list might not deserve the bonus. Do you know everyone on the list and who did or did not deserve what? By reporting fully on what is in the public record, people have the opportunity to make that judgment for themselves rather than relying on your, or the reporter’s, opinion of who should be challenged.
    5. As someone directly affected by the pay cuts, I see how much the person in our location received. It’s gutwrenching. I’ll be switching to the cheapest health insurance option and dropping dental altoghether this year because of the pay cut. With a family, if we have any big-ticket medical issues this year, that may end up biting me in the a**, but we can’t afford the mid-range plan any more.
    Oh – and merry christmas.

  18. ann

    Oh – and I forgot to mention our lost 401k contribution, and the increased workload that has accompanied the lower pay.

  19. shannon

    I worked for The Freedom Family for more than a few years. It is GREAT not to be anymore.

    Is this article accurate? I would be inclined to say it is.

    Is this artical surprizing? Maybe a little but it shouldn’t be.

    I left just after my unpaid furlough but before the 5% pay cut. I feel badly for the friends that I left behind but as the GM told some long time but concerned workers once; “The doors aren’t locked, you don’t have to work here”. I’m sure those words made them feel like they were the company’s most valuable asset. You betcha!

    One cannot help but wonder how these top people sleep at night.

  20. ex freedom employee
    ex freedom employee11-10-2009

    wow, to think of all the times that I had to write off my overtime so that we could make budget. Now I see all the broadcast executives that received these bonuses, and I can see where my overtime income went. Thank you Freedom Corporate, it was a pleasure to let you steal from me. Thank you Scott Flanders, and Doreen Wade. It is nice to see that you are able to make a living, and bonuses by stealing from an underpaid employee, bravo.

  21. GW

    “…some of these people in the field busted their backsides under trying circumstances.” Yeah, busted their backsides trying to get as much money into their own pockets before bankruptcy was filed.

  22. M Hood
    M Hood11-11-2009

    Ok my comment was intended as “tongue in cheek”, I watched as Freedom let good people go (hell I thought I was pretty good) and hired people at the corporate level that could not find their butts with both hands.
    So don’t get me wrong 5% pay cuts and unpaid furloughs while the bosses took bonuses is not right, but I am sure it makes sense to those folks on the west coast.

    I miss the folks but I don’t miss the number crunchers. We all helped kill the local broadcast/print business when forgot to be good local corporate citizens and went for the dollars.

  23. Young Employee
    Young Employee11-13-2009

    I would have left… if it weren’t for the fact that every other company I’ve worked for hadn’t done the same thing. The longer you work for a company the less you get paid. Doesn’t matter the field either. I’ve changed carriers and left jobs because of pay cuts working retail, management, manual labor, and computer graphics. Only difference is I actually like to do Graphics and its nice that the people where I work are too stubborn to talk to someone with an Indian accent. I’ll probably work here till my jobs gone. If anyone is starting a union sign me up, at this rate what do I have to loose.

  24. Former Freedomer
    Former Freedomer11-17-2009

    As a former worker for Freedom Broadcasting, former because my entire place of employment was shutdown, this article makes me absolutely sick to my stomach. Whether these numbers are inflated a bit, or not, at least 80% are much much higher than my yearly salary. Absolutely pathetic. And as far as people “working their behinds off” — what a bunch of BS. My hope is one day their way of conducting business will come back to bite each of them in the behind. Needless to say my (and all my co-workers) layoff was a blessing–to not have to work for that company any longer.

  25. Kathy

    @Tired of the BS
    What side are you on!

  26. Ms. Job Elimination
    Ms. Job Elimination12-03-2009

    So this is why I could not get my Freedom Pension sent to me in a lump sum. It makes me sick. This is something that has been going on for years. One MBO could have saved my job for 2-3 years. As far as Scott Flanders you need to keep your comments to yourself. You got your bonus and fled to another high paying job. While I sit home trying to receive unemployment of $270 a week before taxes. What goes around comes around.

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