I can clearly remember being called into the station owner’s office after a show and being told that the station was letting me go as a cost-cutting measure. It felt like I’d been kicked in the stomach.
Yes, I knew there was a recession affecting the entire country and, yes, I knew that revenues at the radio station where I worked as a morning personality were down. It was obvious. We were playing fewer commercials.
Yet it still hadn’t occurred to me that I could lose my job. I was indispensable! The listeners loved me (didn’t they?). My two male co-workers and I had terrific on-air chemistry. We engaged in lively banter every morning about hot topics, current affairs, and celebrity gossip in a way that entertained our listeners and kept the phone lines lighting up with people who wanted to join in the fun. I also did voiceovers for commercials, went out on remote broadcasts, emceed local events and manned a station booth at every arts & crafts fair, barbecue competition and random community festival during every weekend of the summer. I never had a summer weekend completely free — didn’t that dedication count for something?
I was indispensible – or so I thought.
Those excruciating five minutes in the station owner’s office threw my whole world off kilter. The owner told me the company would continue my health insurance through the end of the month – as if that was very generous on his part. The end of the month was five days away.
I packed up the things in my desk and drove home, trying not to think the worst, but it was difficult not to. The economy was in a nose dive. I was in an industry that had been shrinking for some time. When I started in radio, there were lots of on-air positions. Syndicated shows eliminated a lot of them. So did voice tracking, in which one radio personality can be heard in markets in different parts of the country, simply by recording their on-air bits. Salaries (for all but the top, very famous djs) had shrunk. Continue reading