Thursday, January 22, 2009

Burn Notice

Eleven weeks after starting work in the sales department of WNUA, I was one of the dozens of unfortunate souls blown out in the Clear Channel bloodbath on Tuesday. Having been off the air at Q101 since August of last year (when my contract became a casualty of the parent company's plummeting stock price) I figured I would try my hand at sales. It wasn't a dream job, but if I was gonna have to wear a tie, it might as well be in the industry that I know. I'm lucky to have made it 37 years without working an office job, but- in the immortal words of Chicago pop-meister Richard Marx- when you're trying to make a living, there ain't no such thing as pride. After a long interview process, WNUA took a chance on me and I appreciated it. I'm always down for learning a new skill set, but in my gut, I knew I wasn't charting a new career path.

It sucks being unemployed again so soon, but I feel worse for the veterans who were unceremoniously dismissed on Tuesday. People on-air and in sales for decades who were escorted to the elevators, carrying whatever they could fit into a box or a bag, per corporate policy. I was still the new guy; I knew I wouldn't survive the corporate scythe and I didn't care enough to be insulted by walking the green mile to the elevators. If economic upheaval dictates that these decisions must be made, then the companies desperate to maintain their rapidly disintegrating control should at least afford their overworked and underpaid minions a modicum of dignity on the way out. Are you really worried that we're gonna go back to our desks and pull a Jerry Maguire on the office? That would require emotional investment, which doesn't exist in corporate broadcasting today. Employees are forced to retreat into a bunker mentality, invested emotionally in each other, not the job itself.

Chicago gem and WNUA 20-year vet Rick O'Dell said it best: "The survivors are worse off than the people who were let go". In 21st century corporate media, the living truly envy the dead.

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