So You Think You're Getting Fired!
October 30, 2015
It's coming up on the Most Wonderful Time of the Year already, and, yes, I mean that time of year when we all experience the real meaning of life, which is, of course, "we're going to have to let you go."
Budget time is a time for thanks (for all your years of loyal service, but as you know, we have to make the quarterly projections), and a time for being escorted out of the building with your stuff in a banker's box. With that in mind, I wanted to offer a few tips, some do's and don'ts if you find yourself fired, terminated, let go, released, and/or s-canned. After all, I've been there, too. So....
DO let people know. There is no shame in being fired in the radio business -- hey, you shouldn't feel shame in any other business, too. But especially in radio, if you haven't gotten fired at least once, that's strange. And if you're embarrassed and shy and don't want the word to get out, how are people gonna know you're available? Tell them. You know what? Tell me. One of the best ways to get the next job is to let people know that you're available, and you ought to do that on the biggest stage available in the industry for that sort of thing, which happens to be Net News here at All Access. This is not a time to hide.
DON'T listen to the boss when he or she tells you they'd prefer you didn't say anything to the media. I fell for that one and all that happened is that my name didn't appear anywhere, nobody knew I was gone, and the boss got to look like he hadn't done anything but hire a new PD. Firing? Oh, no, never happened. Politely decline anything that's geared towards shutting you up. But by the same token....
DON'T burn bridges, either. Even in the case I just mentioned, be polite and as cooperative as you can. You don't win anything by being the one to run to the local press or to your Facebook friends and pronounce your now-ex-boss a moron and the company losers and your replacement a fraud. Don't be that guy. Save it for your memoir. And, yes, you're probably thinking, isn't THAT hypocritical for a guy who makes a living being critical of radio management to write? Well, you have room to be angry and bitter and honest, but don't get personal. Again, save it for the autobiography. I don't tell you who specifically did what to me or anyone else, and that's because, ultimately, it doesn't matter. High road, guys, it's better to be on that high road.
DO make sure your social media following is still with you. Before you get the call to come to the GM's office ("no, don't worry, that's okay, we have someone filling in for your shift"), before you even think that your demise is a possibility, you should be engaging with your listeners on a daily, even hourly basis. Post, joke, reply, be their friend on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat and Tinder.... okay, not Tinder, but keep everyone in your social media circle close, because you'll need them when you move to a new job, or start a new... a new this:
DO a podcast. Time was (okay, like, a few months ago... actually, now, come to think of it) that you'd hear radio guys say that doing a podcast is like leaving the radio business, that it's what you do when you can't get hired. Maybe so, but it's also what radio hosts do to move into the one area of the audio entertainment business that's growing. It's a place radio people go to hone their skills. It's a medium in which I've heard people develop interview skills that they never showed on the radio. And if you're gonna call people like Adam Carolla, Marc Maron, Chris Hardwick, Ira Glass, NPR, ESPN, or Shaq losers, you have an interesting definition of "loser." Here, I'll make it easy: Grab a mic and a recorder or your computer and do a damn show, upload it to the host of your choice, paste the RSS feed URL into the iTunes and Google Play Music forms, and send me a note about the new show so we can give it some love at All Access. There, you're rolling, for practically zero dollars, and if a potential employer thinks less of you for it, you do not want to work for a troglodyte anyway.
DON'T panic. You are not the first nor last radio person to be fired. You'll be fine. But....DO remember that radio isn't the only thing you can do. Adaptation and reinvention are important qualities at any age. And if your next job isn't a radio job, that's okay. We are all "radio people," but that shouldn't define you. Years ago, when I lost one PD job, I resolved that because we didn't want to move again, I would do whatever I had to do to stay put, and if that meant manning the drive-thru at the Carl's Jr. in Torrance, so be it. That didn't happen, but I ended up writing for the Internet, which didn't even exist as a career before then. Adaptation, reinvention. Life isn't all mics and formats and sweepers and audio processing..
And DO relax. In fact, after you get the word and let us know, the very first thing you should do is disconnect. Take a little time -- not too much, but a month will be plenty -- to do nothing. Relax. A few weeks where you don't have to go into work, a few weeks when the clock doesn't matter, is going to do you a world of good. Of all the moments I can recall in my career, one of the best happens to be one where I'd quit/got fired (long story), and had one month where I didn't look for a job, didn't think about work, didn't do anything but (literally) sit on the beach and run on the beach and just did nothing. It was like hitting the Pause button on everything. And when I hit Play again, I felt a lot better..
I hope you won't need any of this. I hope you'll survive Budget Season 2015 and be on the air wherever you are for many years to come. But if you get caught in the cuts, just take a deep breath, try to remain positive, and remember that, somehow, you can manage to get through this. We're in radio. We got this..
Still have a show? Or a podcast? Your show prep should include All Access News-Talk-Sports' Talk Topics, where you'll find hundreds of items and ideas and bad jokes for your show prep needs, all up-to-date and conveniently available now by clicking here. And there's the Talk Topics Twitter feed at @talktopics with every story individually linked to the appropriate item. And don't forget the new Podcasting section at AllAccess.com/podcasts..
Full Disclosure: I also serve as Director of Programming for Nerdist Industries, which includes the Nerdist Podcast Network, one of your major podcast entities. .
All right, now, here's a programming note: For the first time in several years, I will be completely, totally absent from work for over a week. I will not be in the office nor updating the topics or columns or, really, anything other than my personal Twitter/Facebook/Instagram stuff from next Friday, November 6th, all the way through the 17th. You can email me (see below), but I can't guarantee I'll be able to respond. Send Net News items to Pat Gillen (email@example.com), Shawn Alexander (firstname.lastname@example.org), Jeff Silberman (email@example.com), and Roy Trakin (firstname.lastname@example.org). And if you're intensely curious about what I'll be doing, or just want someone new to follow on social media, follow me on Twitter @pmsimon. Depending on schedule and jet lag, there may or may not be a column coming out on November 20th, but we'll see. But Happy November anyway, and let's hope it's a good one for all of us..