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Five Dumbest Things on Wall Street: Jan. 15

Arbitron CEO's Absence

Here's a lesson for former Arbitron (ARB) CEO Michael Skarzynski: Better rate than never.

Arbitron, which supplies radio ratings information to advertisers, revealed that Skarzynski resigned Monday because of false statements he gave to a congressional committee. The company said Skarzynski told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in a hearing last month that he had participated in a home visit to Arbitron panelists in November. The truth, however, is that while company officials did make the visit, Skarzynski played hooky. Arbitron's stock closed down $2.55 on the news, or 9.6%, to $24.15.

Remember that old Woody Allen quote that "80% of success is showing up"? It turns out a full 100% is necessary when it comes to keeping your job.

Arbitron is under Congressional scrutiny over its new method of tracking radio audiences called the Portable People Meter. Critics say it undercounts minorities and therefore lessens the advertising dollars smaller stations can attract. Arbitron has settled lawsuits from attorneys general in New York and New Jersey over the People Meter, but still faces lawsuits from a handful of states.

"Honesty and integrity are the cornerstones of Arbitron's values, and we take any acts inconsistent with these values very seriously," Arbitron CFO Sean Creamer said on Tuesday.

Arbitron said Skarzynski will be replaced by Bill Kerr, who previously led the magazine and broadcast company Meredith Corp. (MDP). Kerr still serves as Meredith's chairman, but said he has asked the company to find a replacement.

And for everybody's sake, Kerr's replacement better darn well show up for work.

Dumb-o-meter score: 95 -- Another lesson for Skarzynski: It's OK for Congress to lie to you, but don't you dare lie to Congress.
Before joining, Gregg Greenberg was a writer and segment producer for CNBC's Closing Bell. He previously worked at FleetBoston and Lehman Brothers in their Private Client Services divisions, covering high net-worth individuals and midsize hedge funds. Greenberg attended New York University's School of Business and Economic Reporting. He also has an M.B.A. from Cornell University's Johnson School of Business, and a B.A. in history from Amherst College.
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