Thursday, August 30, 2007

Permanent vacation season

B.D. – Before deregulation, the most opportune time to downsize was that week between Christmas and New Year.

It was assumed that everyone was on auto pilot and surviving employees were least likely to miss the small things come every first of the year…like a smaller airstaff, sales management, general management, promotion and marketing and so forth.

It seems improbable that there was a time in the not too distant past when radio and TV would not fire…er…terminate anyone between Thanksgiving and Christmas, regardless of cause.

Axing employees during the holiday season was downright Scrooge-ish.

No more.

Today, it’s any time, any place, any date. When you’re out, you’re out.

Still, there are those with marquee value that are best canned on specific occasions.

Like this week.

Radio and TV fancy weeks leading up to long holiday weekends like Memorial Day, July 4th, and the upcoming Labor Day weekend. They provide decent cover to pick off a few perceived dead weighters.

One TV station I’m familiar with is taking advantage of the week to lacerate a news anchor, meteorologist, and a couple of writers. They’re also slashing salaries on a couple of surviving anchors – including one who was their Empress until a few career wrinkles developed.

On her face.

You know what they say in television.

Thirty is the new forty.

Forty is the new “you’re history.”

It’s not “old” anymore. It’s “old and in the way.”

I know of a reporter who’s landed a few fill-in anchor duties and is positioning herself to be in line for the station’s next full-time opening. She just turned 32 – and has already been under the knife for a few nips and tucks.

Young at heart has been replaced by young in face.

Too much experience has become detrimental.

The dreaded question: How many years have you been working in this business?

They can’t ask your age but the year you graduated high school is fair game.

It could’ve been worse. What if Anchorwoman, the FOX TV reality series got ratings? Thankfully, it didn’t and died after its initial showing due to dismal numbers.

That show followed a swimsuit model and beauty pageant winner with zilch journalism experience in her quest to anchor a Tyler, Texas television station’s newscast.

If Anchorwoman got numbers, FOX would be signing up the Naked News anchors for its o & o’s.

Contracts no longer mean protection since a one-time buyout can spruce up an otherwise dismal annual report.

They – whoever they may be – say that you’re not a media maven until you’ve been fired at least once.

That means we now have more media mavens out of work than working.

Here’s the radio set up. You’re back at work following a three day weekend and there’s a new market manager or afternoon drive jock or a traffic director taking on an additional five stations or ten fewer board ops minding the Prophet.

Shock deadens when you learn that the downsizing occurred days ago. That’s the benefit of long weekends. You don’t have to see the just-fired cleaning out their cubbyholes.

It also gives new meaning to escort services. They’re hired to escort the disengaged employees out of the building.

For the civilians – viewers and listeners - an abruptly terminated anchor, meteorologist, sports reporter or air personality is a non-issue.

It’s not like the past. Not even the way it was a couple of years ago.

Rarely is a station faced with high profile protest over a fired TV or air personality.

Ask Imus.

All the hoopla on his firing was media generated. The public couldn't have cared less.

Of course there’s good reason for this. Look over an Arbitron lately? There’s no such animal as a loyal listener. They care less because they’re viewing and listening less.

Isn’t that true, Ms. Couric?

You’ll still hear civilians recalling past news anchors and air personalities – but it’s of a distant past.

How many 30-pluses can name air talent on their favorite radio station from ten, fifteen years ago but can’t identify a single person on stations they listen to today?

And on rare occasion they know the morning drive host’s – can they name anyone else on the supporting cast?

That is, if they still listen to radio.

The same applies to television news anchors. They’re replaced as fast as the number twos used to be in The Prisoner.

And that’s the dilemma traditional media faces.

Lack of loyalty.

Humans are creatures of habit and given the choice will invariably go to what is most familiar.

When familiarity disappears, so does loyalty.

When loyalty disappears so do ratings.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sadly, that attitude seems to be EVERYWHERE these days, not just at TV and radio companies. Experience means nothing, loyalty means nothing -- and (sad to say)if you're over 50... well, good luck.
I'll be taking two part-time jobs to try to make ends meet. Health insurance will have to take a back seat for awhile. *sigh* I never really saw it before, but it's true, idiocy is always rewarded.

No fan of Jerk-obs said...

Your blog was very timely for us in Chicago. Emmis took the opportunity of the holiday week to fire a couple of jocks and a sales manager. They should have fired their “outside advisor” instead. (You know who he is) His direction has taken The Loop at Q-101 to their lowest numbers ever. Despite the downtrends he shrewdly deflects the blame to others so he can stay on their payroll.

Anonymous said...

I am one of those media mavens. Fortunately I am working and secure in my position. I never gave it any thought before. Everytime I was let go from a job it was always just after Christmas or one of the long summer holiday weekends. It was always amicabile except for my last one where I was escorted out the building by one of their security officers. (who apologized profusely) I have also noticed a touch of grey in my hair and I hate to say it. I will be buying Just For Men for no other reason than to visibly hide my age.

Anonymous said...

What ever happened to the age discrimination law?

Anonymous said...

A sales mgr I used to work for called a meeting to ask his staff why they were met wth resistance from long time clients to renew. When it was brought up that just about every client brought up loyal listeners which we once had at our station it was dismissed as an excuse the programming department would have come with.

Janey said...

Well put.

When familiarity disappears, so does loyalty.

When loyalty disappears so do ratings.

It says it all. If only radio & TV got it.

Anonymous said...

John You bring up an interesting point. How about the fact that artists like Sting, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd are all over 50 and still popular. There are many radio and TV personalities that I grew up with that I would prefer to listen and watch than the bubbleheads and liner card readers of today. Why Madison Avenue doesn't get the message is beyond me. Over 50S have the largest disposable income of any demographic so why don't we have programming and personalities appealling to them? Hey how about the fact that young kids who are our sons and daughters listen and enjoy the same music we did. When I tell them about the DJs I grew up with and newsmen like Walter Cronkite they wonder why everyone on radio and TV today have to be under 30. Thirty is the new forty. You are so right.

Anonymous said...

dammit john....now i dont know if i will have a job come tuesday. seriously...a great piece and i am glad to see you addressing age. the problem with media today is that decision makers are in their late twenties and early thirties and assume that anyone over forty is an old geezer. funny..they listen to our music.

Anonymous said...

I AM SICK OF YOUR RANTS!!!! RADIO IS FAR HEALTHIER THAN YOU CLAIM IT IS!!! WHAT IS WRONG WITH CLUSTERS??? I AM ABLE TO SELL TIME ON STATIONS THAT I COULD NOT HAVE SOLD OTHERWISE. YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT. RADIO IS HEALTHIER THAN EVER AND MUCH BETTER THAN IT WAS DURING YOUR "GOOD OLD DAYS!!!!! AS FAR AS AGE??? I'M IN MY EARLY FORTIES AND HAVE SPENT MY ENTIRE CAREER IN RADIO SALES AND I'M DOING WELL!!! HARD WORK PAYS OFF. I WASN'T SENT OUT TO PASTURE AND WON'T BE AS LONG AS I PRODUCE WHICH I CONSIDER A HONOR TO DO!!!! YOU RADIO WHINERS SHOULD JUST SHUT UP!!!!! THE INDUSTRY IS VERY HEALTHY AND I GUARANTEE RADIO WILL BE AROUND LONG AFTER SATELLITE RADIO IS DEAD AND INTERNET RADIO IS SHUT DOWN!!!!
STICK IT!!!!

Anonymous said...

Here in Houston Cumulus took the opportunity of the Labor Day weekend to change formats at KIOL from classic rock KIOL to another JACK-FM. Cumulus never promoted KIOL and they insisted the old KLOL listeners would find us and the KIOL call letters sucked.

Anonymous said...

Hey John Gorman - Have you seen the Jerk-off Media's NAB hype video? The URL is http://www.jacobsmedia.com/
summit/nab_bedroom.asp.

Here is my message to Jerk-off:

You and your Jerk-off Media company...the Swamis of Rock Radio... DIDN'T know about these changes before the study?

Missing from your creepy titled "Bedroom" study is that it was YOU and others like you that drove people away from radio.You turned radio stations into pablum.
Admit it.

You are a proponent of HD radio which absolutely no one cares abou because it is brought to you by the same people including YOU that ruined terrestrial radio.

I cannot believe the radio industry is that dumb NOT to already know what YOU cover in YOUR report.

They are not what WE want to listen to on the radio. If we cannot find what we are looking for on the radio we go elsewhere.

I hope the NAB attendees see through your bullcrap.

That is my message for Jerk-off. Plese don't delete it.

Dr. Fill said...

John, I hate to tell you this. Loyalty is dead. No one has loyalty to their employer. No one has loyalty to their spouse. No one has loyalty to anything but themselves and even that comes into question. I think that explains loyalty. Radio cannot tap into loyalty because it no longer exists in our society.

PocketRadio said...

Anonymous said...

"I AM SICK OF YOUR RANTS!!!! RADIO IS FAR HEALTHIER THAN YOU CLAIM IT IS!!! WHAT IS WRONG WITH CLUSTERS??? I AM ABLE TO SELL TIME ON STATIONS THAT I COULD NOT HAVE SOLD OTHERWISE. YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT. RADIO IS HEALTHIER THAN EVER AND MUCH BETTER THAN IT WAS DURING YOUR "GOOD OLD DAYS!!!!! AS FAR AS AGE??? I'M IN MY EARLY FORTIES AND HAVE SPENT MY ENTIRE CAREER IN RADIO SALES AND I'M DOING WELL!!! HARD WORK PAYS OFF. I WASN'T SENT OUT TO PASTURE AND WON'T BE AS LONG AS I PRODUCE WHICH I CONSIDER A HONOR TO DO!!!! YOU RADIO WHINERS SHOULD JUST SHUT UP!!!!! THE INDUSTRY IS VERY HEALTHY AND I GUARANTEE RADIO WILL BE AROUND LONG AFTER SATELLITE RADIO IS DEAD AND INTERNET RADIO IS SHUT DOWN!!!!
STICK IT!!!!" August 31, 2007 6:31 AM

I think this guy is Mike Walker - he is a lunatic off radio-info.com's and AVS Forum's HD boards. Here is his website - he likes to scream through capitalization:

http://www.hearitseeit.blogspot.com

As you can see, he is a short, dumpy, ugly, legally blind HD Radio shill-parrot who fantasizes about his dog licking sprinkles off him !

Anonymous said...

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