Find Another Job ... Before The Doors Are Padlocked
September 20, 2016
Recently I received an e-mail from a personality concerning office politics and his attempt to understand what was going on. Radio stations are like small towns and sometimes there are things going on in the background that only benefit ownership or management. His situation is not the best of circumstances, but I am sure some of you can unfortunately relate to it.
Jock: I would like to keep my job so I will not tell you what station I work for. What I will tell you is that I work in the state of Alabama. Sam, the GM of this station does things that are underhanded and cheap. There are paydays all of us wonder if our checks will clear. There have been times they did not. The company has actually scheduled voluntary temporary layoffs to accommodate cash flow problems. We no longer have janitorial services and the employees have been asked to pitch in on daily cleanup. I would go to another station, but I've had no luck finding anything anywhere else. I do afternoons and program.
Coach: Yes, I agree, you need to get out of there. Your situation sounds one of those bad B prison movies with the warden making shady deals benefiting from the hard work of the inmates. Tell me more about these voluntary temporary layoffs to make payroll.
Jock: The GM tells us he and the Sales Manager are not taking a salary either, but they make enough to afford to skip a couple of pay periods. Our paychecks do not even compare with theirs. I am making $25,000 and I am the highest paid of a dwindled-down air staff and cluster. There are four stations here and each only now have two full-time air personalities and we share the few part-timers we do have. The other thing is, both the GM and Sales Manager have trade-outs on all sorts of things. Both have car deals with one of our clients, free cars. Don't ask how I found out, but I did, I saw the contractual agreement.
Coach: I don't know what to say.
Jock: Well there is more, the reason for my e-mail is that I had a remote last month at Best Buy and a lady approached me about doing commercials for her apartment complex. She wanted to know if maybe some sort of apartment barter could be worked out if she used me as a spokesperson. I told her I was not a salesman, but I took her card and told her I would pass it on to Sales Manager who I came to find out was having an affair with the GM.
Anyway, a few weeks afterwards, I got commercial copy for her apartment complex and I was glad things had worked out. The next thing I know I am doing a remote at the complex for some sort of renter recruitment drive and naturally the complex manager lady was there. As soon as she spots me, she runs over and tells me she liked the commercial I did. I thanked her and told her I hoped the station gave her a good deal. She said yes and that they loved her idea of exchanging time for free rent. Now I was getting excited because my lease was coming up and I figured since she had requested me for this remote, I was also going to get a chance to move in as part of my endorsement. She kept talking and said she would be advertising on our station over the next two years and that the Sales Manager and her kids were really nice. I asked what she meant, and then she told me they had just moved in and it was part of the deal for advertising on our station.
Coach: Do you think the owner knows this sort of thing is going on?
Jock: He lives on Florida, I have been here three years and he's only come to the station once. He pretty much is like an absentee landlord and the GM runs the show. That or it's all an elaborate hoax and the GM is really is the owner and the guy in Florida is a figurehead. Sorry, this place has all of us coming up with different conspiracy theories. It's not fair; the apartment barter deal should have been mine.
Coach: There are two sides to every story, but you've told me enough to understand your situation on the apartment barter trade-out. There are a couple of things -- the GM sounds cheap, shady, and has boundary issues with business and personal. Before I tell you the rest of what I think, let me share this with you. I once worked for an independent owner who had two janitors on duty during the day and thought station contest prizes such as concert tickets and CDs were his private property. On a daily basis this guy would send his cronies and teenage sons to my office to get whatever they wanted. It got so bad I had to have promotions stash things around the building. The two janitor thing was strange for such a small business, especially since the only duty for one of them was to wash cars. However, regardless of my personal feelings, it was his business. This brings me to my opinion on your situation.
It is the GM's choice to do what he wants with barter and trade-outs, but the whole thing could have been handled a lot better. So here is what probably happened with the apartment. The owner signs off on everything and it was probably his idea to move the sales manager, his girlfriend, into the apartment complex as part of the barter/trade-out. There is nothing you can do but hang in there until you find another job. And by the way, nothing is free; the apartment would have been compensation for your endorsement and therefore considered taxable income. I am not sure this will make you feel any better, but there are situations worse than yours. Believe it or not, shady things go on at large corporations, too. I heard an alleged story concerning the son of a company owner who was receiving a six-figure salary and never came to the office; supposedly it all came out during an independent audit for an upcoming merger. The best suggestion I have for you is to do your job and watch your back. It would not surprise me if you came to work one day and found folks from the State Attorney's office examining the financials. The next thing you know, the doors will be padlocked. Find another radio gig ASAP or a job which can utilize your skill set.