December 5, 2014Leave Your Key Card At The Front Desk
We couldn't get to the end of the year without a rash of RIFs, a flood of firings, a lot of "let gos." Nobody likes to call these things what they are, so we get euphemisms like "exited" and "replaced" and "pursuing other opportunities," but that fools nobody. Heads are rolling, as they often do at this Most Wonderful Time of the Year. I've been there, because anyone who's ever been in radio has been called to the GM's office at one time or another, or gotten the "hey, let's go grab a cup of coffee. Oh, don't worry about your shift, it's covered." We are Dr. Johnny Fever, consulting our coffee mugs to try and remember what our current air names are and which city this might be.
But... well, here's something. Many years ago, working at a radio station, I went into the office intending to resign. As the words "I've decided to leave the company" came out of my mouth, my boss, clearly taken aback, said, "but we've decided to let you go." I quit at the exact moment I was getting fired. It was so weird, we both laughed. And then I walked out, no job, no more income, nothing on the horizon. My wife had given up her business when we moved there, so she wasn't yet working again. We had no idea what to do next.
And so began one of the best months of my life.
I'm not exaggerating. For a month, I did practically nothing, at least nothing related to career. I went down to the beach and ran in the early morning fog. I read a ton of books. (It was before the Internet was the Internet we know and love today, so they were actual books made of paper, kids.) I saw movies, rode the train into the city, wandered aimlessly all over the place. My plan for every day was "I don't know, and I don't particularly care." How was I going to pay next month's rent? We'll figure that out. What would happen if there were no more radio jobs? I'd think of something, somehow. I just put everything on hold and disengaged from everything that could aggravate me. And I don't think I've ever felt that good at any other time of my life.
Of course, it helped that once the month was over, I began to get job offers, but taking that time to recharge, to reconnect with the things that relaxed me and made me happy, made that time incredibly valuable. Yeah, I had to find work and income pretty quickly, but that's not the only important part of life. And when in ensuing years I got the ax again (radio is nothing if not consistent in things like that), it helped me be philosophical about it, even with rent and insurance bills dangling over my head. Fired? That's not good. But it's not the end, and if it means doing something besides radio, so be it. Nobody should get into radio expecting security.
And as I wrap up another year of columns at AllAccess.com (yeah, this is the last one for 2014), and as I see the names of friends and acquaintances and people I don't know pop up in Net News with terms like "departed" and "exited" and "forcibly ejected from the building by armed guards and trained Rottweilers," my own experience with radio's Grim Reapers reminds me to remind them: This, too, shall pass. Sure, it helps if you had a Plan B in place, and if you saved a lot of money for a rainy day (excuse me for a second... HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA ha ha ha ha.... yeah, that happens in radio), but for anyone who has talent and skills, there will be opportunities out there. They may not be in traditional radio, but good communications skills and creativity are still valuable, whether you try podcasting or working for another medium or going into another field like public relations or marketing or whatever seems right for you. You work your network, you apply everywhere, you open your mind to everything. Your job should not, cannot define you. What you do for a living ten years from now may not even exist as an option right now. Let the CEOs be concerned about preserving the value of their licenses. Your concern is to find something that pays the bills and makes you happy, not necessarily in that order.
That's as good a place as any to end this year, I suppose, so let's do that. And while we're at it, I'll give you the schedule for the rest of the year: I'll be updating All Access News-Talk-Sports' Talk Topics as usual through next Tuesday (December 9th), then sporadically for the following week, then very little until just before the New Year. (I'll also be handling Net News editing from the 10th through the 16th, always a white-knuckle ride of a week.) Then, because it's how the calendar works out this time, I'll promptly take another week away the following week while I go cover International CES in Las Vegas, which should provide some interesting column material. Anyway, you'll find all of that by clicking here. And the Talk Topics Twitter feed at @talktopics links every story to the appropriate item as well, so follow that, and to keep up with me during the hiatus, make sure you're following my personal Twitter account at @pmsimon (and I stress, it's personal, not the responsibility of my employers). You can also find me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pmsimon, and I've been promising to restart pmsimon.com for so long, it seems like it'll never happen, but I will, as soon as I get time. I promise. There's also a new "10 Questions With..." Joe Greenwood, the APD, "Robbins and Markley Show" producer, host, and general jack-of-all-trades at WMBD in Peoria.
And as always, I should disclose here that I have another job, Director of Programming for Nerdist Industries (a division of Legendary Pictures), which includes the Nerdist Podcast Network, so when I talk about podcasts, yeah, I'm involved in that. Isn't everyone? Anyway, that's so you know where I'm coming from (from whence I'm coming?), and so I can get a plug in for our shows, to which you should subscribe.
With that, let's call it a year and put this thing into holiday mode. What's the print equivalent of an all-Christmas music format? I hear that works really well these days.
November 21, 2014Leaving The Linear
What's the radio show with the most buzz right now? Okay, that's a trick question. "Buzz" defies quantification. It's sort of you-know-it-when-you-hear-it. And you could argue that the various and sundry "Jingle Balls" and "Almost Acoustic Christmas" and similar ...
November 14, 2014University of the Mall of America
As I write this in a hotel room in Bloomington, Minnesota, the 2015 Conclave Learning Conference has yet to start, and while I've been waiting, I've been to the Mall of America a couple of times, because it's really the only place I can get to that doesn't require waiting ...
November 7, 2014Handling the Holidays
Hey, did you feel the bump? The election bump, that is, the ratings bump you get every two years for a couple of months. You get a little ratings jolt, some of that lowest unit rate revenue that, when times are bad, can really help a Market Manager face corporate with a ...
October 31, 2014More Than One Way
A long time ago, back before streaming was commonplace and when I still thought that lecturing the radio industry that it was imperative to move spoken word programming onto the FM dial might actually move someone to do just that, I included a warning: Just slapping the ...
October 17, 2014Barbie And You
A stark reminder of exactly how much things are changing came this week with the news that shook the world to its core: Barbie sales are down. Okay, you're wondering what Barbie has to do with talk radio. It's this: By the time Mattel realized Barbie was in trouble, ...
October 10, 2014Time's Up
A long time ago, I learned a valuable lesson that went something like this: You tell the bosses that your proposed business plan will take about a year and a half to really kick in, that they need to show patience and understand that the revenue won't immediately show up, ...
October 3, 2014Want It, Need It, Gotta Have It... Or Not, Whatever
In the end, I wound up ordering the iPhone 6 Plus after all. I needed a new phone, I weighed the advantages and disadvantages of the new models, I looked at Android phones, I compared plans and carriers, I went to the store and held the various handsets and played with ...
September 26, 2014New Toy
When I was a kid, my favorite toys were Legos and Erector sets. At the time, I didn't think about why I liked them better. I just did. In retrospect, though, I'm pretty sure I know what attracted me to piles of plastic blocks and metal pieces and fasteners. No ...
September 19, 2014Playing Fantasy Radio Business League, or Dividing To Conquer
Get over it. Really, you should get over it now. By "you," I mean you, and by "it," I mean radio, not the industry or the medium but the word. This comes to mind because of the reaction to Clear Channel changing its name to iHeartMedia and iHeartCommunications and ...