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.
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Young at heart has been replaced by young in face.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.
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.