Saturday, March 1, 2008

And the hits just keep on coming...

There were more "down-sizing" moves within the Citadel group yesterday. I work with several Citadel stations, so, obviously, I'm hoping that the "status quo" remains with the people for whom I work.

My position was eliminated at the end of 2006, so I know how it feels. I was the imaging director for a station in Atlanta. Somewhat of a "luxury" was afforded me in that I had some advanced warning that things could go awry. But when your walking papers are handed to you and the reality hits, it doesn't seem to matter whether you had been forewarned or not.

It's not pleasant to read about others' misfortune within our business. It's even worse when a PD or OM with whom I work with calls or drops a note saying that he/she just got out of a meeting...and it wasn't a good one. It really bums me out. Even though I'm not "in the building" working with them, I feel like I have more contact via email/text/phone than if I were right down the hallway, so I feel that, in many ways, I get to know these people. Some become pretty good friends.

There was a situation in 2007 where a station I worked with in the southeast decided to "adjust" the format. The PD included me on a note one afternoon to say that he had been canned. I started to respond to his note to say how sorry I was to hear what had happened to him, and before I could finish the note, I received a phone call saying that the station image-voice situation was also being "adjusted". We finally connected on the phone and I mentioned to him that I knew some folks in the industry and would be glad to try to "hook him up". And he said, "Matt, I'm done. This is the third time this has happened. I've had it with doing everything I can do to implement someone else's programming plan...and then when it doesn't work, I'm the one who gets blamed and then fired. I have no idea what I'm going to do, but it isn't going to be radio."

I wonder how many people who have been let go this week wonder the same thing. When do you throw in the towel? How many times do you have to be "down-sized" before you say "enough is enough"? And if "enough is enough", then what do you do? Go back to school? Open a business? What? For me, aside from a brief journey into studying for the Catholic priesthood, being behind a microphone is really all that I've ever wanted to do. Other than knowing how to distinguish a pale ale from a stout, it's really the only thing I know how to do.

Like the PD with whom I worked at the station down South, there are many, many talented people out there who confront the same question today. And tomorrow. And certainly on Monday. Unfortunately, it's only going to get worse. As Darryl Parks in Cincinnati told me via email last week, "Times are weird indeed".

Indeed. Like the slogan of my favorite record store and head shop in Canton, Ohio (no longer in existence, also a by-product of "adjustment") used to proclaim, "Onward through the fog".

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