Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Beginning of the End

About two months before my dismissal from KWNR, I remember a meeting that Mark Stevens (my morning show partner) and I had with Clear Channel's market manager. The market manger is essentially the boss of the building, and this gal oversees the four radio stations that CC owns in Las Vegas. Our ratings had not been all that spectacular and she wanted to know what we could do to improve them.

Now, bear in mind, when the numbers were good, we were never hailed, lauded or complimented in any way. It was never to our credit for good numbers, but it was always our fault for bad numbers. She wanted answers.

Mark talks a good game, but when push came to shove it was always me doing the pushing, and thus dealing with the majority of the shoving. I mentioned that when I'm out at concerts or events, people complain that 1) there are too many commercials, and 2) the same songs play over and over. These are always the two biggest complaints that a radio listener has.

Market manager went off on me.. If you've ever seen the movie "Ghost Rider", go back to the scene where Nicholas Cage's head first bursts into flames. Now you understand what I was seeing. Obviously, my suggestions were the last things that she wanted to hear. God forbid, I actually say that we play too many commercials. I realize that the money a station makes is based on the ad time the station sells. In a wicked case of irony, while the revenue derived from the sale of ads keeps a station chugging along, it's the very same slew of ads that makes a listener tune out. Hence, the ratings go down and the station makes less money. A vicious cycle and in the end, the jocks lose their jobs as the listeners lose their patience.

I was merely stating something that one listener after another had told me, and it was tossed back in my face like a manuscript from a hack writer. Essentially, this is what the higher ups think of the average listener. You're no more than a pimple on a flea. That meeting was the beginning of the end. The last two months at KWNR was like having a prostate exam on a daily basis.

Oh, I'm just getting warmed up.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Update! Update!

My Mom's test results are in. A couple of weeks ago, they removed a cancerous lymph node, so she underwent a petscan (pretty much an all over bodyscan for cancers) and the always fun bone marrow biopsy. The results were mostly positive. The cancer was contained to that one lymph node.


The petscan showed another minor cancer in a lymph node in her chest. She'll go back in a month for a follow-up on that one. No chemo or radiation needed. She can still drink martinis on a daily basis, and I think that was mom's biggest concern.

That big bit of good news means that I can once again use this blog to wallow in the self-pity of my unemployment. I went to the Review Journal's Job Fair that was held down at Cashman Center. I've been to job fairs in the past, but the crowds were nowhere near what they were today. Imagine yourself standing outside of the gates of a general admission, sold-out concert. You can't move, you can't breath, and quite possibly someone just pinched my a**. That was the high flying atmosphere inside. Tremendous fun.

The whole job fair experience showed that there are a lot of people out there like me. Sure, some may be working currently, and stopped by the job fair to see if there was something better at hand. Or maybe they were just there for the free Review Journal. Yes, I grabbed one (I never miss NORM!). Whatever the reason, there were a ton more people than I expected, and that made me feel equal parts good and sick to my stomach. I left there feeling better about myself, about my prospects, about my future. No, there wasn't any prospective employer that I'd want to slave for, but I left knowing I can do better than what was being offered. It was a confidence booster, something that really put a spring in my step as I headed out. I needed that spring, too, as the crowd forced me to park a mile away from the event. Confidence + a cardio workout + mom's fine = a good day today.

Oh, I almost forgot. CLEAR CHANNEL RADIO was at the job fair! Hilarious, in light of news that came down this week that CC has instituted a hiring freeze for the foreseeable future. They're not even close to hitting their budgets, and are cutting to the bone. You know it's drastic when they're not hiring any dead weight salespeople. At long last, they're reaping what they've sewn, and it's wonderful to be on the outside looking in.

Monday, January 28, 2008

A Fork in the Road

I've taken a couple of days off from writing this blog, but that doesn't mean that i haven't been thinking about what to post. Lying in bed, I've written 12 of these in my head, but when it comes time to actually type out my thoughts, I just don't feel like doing it. I'm sure there's some medical term for this. I KNOW what I want and need to do, but I just don't do it. "Lazyness" doesn't cover it.

Example: resumes. Part of the fun (and by "fun" I mean "torture") of the search for a new job is updating the resume. A couple of weeks ago, I did that, but now the next step involves getting it printed on a really nice piece of paper, not just the type I have in my printer. I guess that requires a trip down to Kinko's, and Lord knows I have plenty of time to do that. I just choose not to. There's a Job Fair tomorrow, so it sure would be nice to go in completely prepared. At this hour, I know I won't go in prepared. Heck at this stage, I might not even go in at all.

Here's where I am. I still want to be involved in radio, but the business has changed so much in the last ten years that I've come to despise it. Why work in a business that I openly ridicule? Because it's the only thing that I can confidently say that I'm good at. I've had success doing it, I've enjoyed doing it, and there's rarely heavy lifting involved. My kind of gig. I know there has to be something else out there that I would enjoy doing, but I don't know what that is. Do I really want to start completely over at the age of 42? There's not exactly a big demand for 42 year old white men to fill employment rolls these days.

Going to this job fair tomorrow would be a signal to me that I'm willing to throw away 12 years of success and achievements without even trying to climb aboard another station. I'm not an insurance salesman, I'm not a travel agent, and I'm not a banker. I'm a radio guy, like it or not. And I'm stuck in a business I despise, run by people who have no idea what made radio a successful medium in the first place. It's a weird place to be, but here I am.

Oh, before I forget, KWNR's ratings took a dump the first month that I wasn't there. I don't want to say that my dismissal was responsible for that drop, but if I was responsible for any of that, I'm tickled pink.

Coming soon, an interesting (hopefully) look behind the scenes at how radio really works, aka "They Don't care What You Think"

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Better Day

I really think that if the term existed when I was growing up, I would've been labeled "ADD". My mind is constantly going. Even as I type this, I'm three paragraphs ahead. Wait. Now I'm at the beach. Hold it. I wonder what my brother's niece has a birthday in two weeks. Gotta shop.

See what I mean?

I see that it takes a family crisis to get me to focus. My mom was diagnosed with a cancerous lymph node, and met with doctors today. She'll be having a petscan (an all-over body scan) on Friday, and then a bone marrow biopsy (ow) on Monday. Results of both those tests will be known on Tuesday. The doctors are optimistic, and so my mom sounded a heckuva lot better today.

Nevertheless, it's all I've thought about since Monday night. I'm not concerned about my job situation. Not a bit. No. It really hasn't entered my head in the past two days. My head is as clear as it's been in weeks. I hate that it takes a situation like that to produce clarity, but at least now I know I can do it.

I feel fat. Ah, here I go again..

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Change of Direction

Got back from San Diego yesterday. As expected, it was great, other than not finding any place to park. No one ever seems to be in a bad mood down there. I only got gestured to once while out there, and that was from a driver in a car that had Nevada plates. Figures.

Not thinking much about the employment situation today. My mom recently had minor surgery to remove a swollen lymph node. At the time of the surgery, she was told that there didn't seem to be anything abnormal about the node. Several days later she received a call from the doctor.

It was malignant.

Malignant. What a horrible word. There aren't many words that can NEVER have a positive spin put on them, but I think that malignant fits into that category. Now there's always a chance that whatever cancer is there was confined there and hasn't spread. My parents are very good about taking care of themselves. They seem to go to doctors as often as I go to casinos. She's meeting with an oncologist and blood specialist today to go over things.

There are certain stages in life when you start to prioritize things. It seems with each passing decade, you rearrange those priorities. Have fun in your 20's, settle down in your 30's, career/family in your 40's & 50's and retirement in your 60's (if you've saved enough). The past month and a half for me has been wondering what the future holds for me in the job market, be it in Las Vegas or elsewhere. Today, I really don't care about that. Priorities have changed. What's important has changed. Don't get me wrong, my family has always been important to me. We've just never had huge health scares to really make me think about how I'd feel if they were gone.

In the meantime, I sit at home and wait for my mom or dad to call. What a helpless feeling, just sitting here. Radio can wait.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Dropping Down

Going to San Diego for a couple of days. Aside from a bar stool with a frosty mug in front of me, this is my absolute favorite place to go. Even the homeless are friendly there. Hey sure, you literally don't have a pot to p**s in, but you're in San Diego, so how bad can it be? We're going as a "change of scenery" type trip. I've made no secret of the fact that one day, we'd like to call San Diego home. Pumpkin has gone so far as to cut out magazine articles that have pictures of the way she wants our San Diego house to look. She's hardcore.

Problem? The average- average- home price in San Diego hovers near 600k. The house where I presently sit would be a million dollar house if picked up here and plopped on land there. Considering my income stream is now just a trickle, those plans might be derailed......or they might have been put on the fast track.

I have to go watch Pumpkin pack my stuff. Oh, more pithy observations next week, for sure. Some will be radio related with the rest being whatever is rattling around inside my dome.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Up and Down

Roller coasters aren't my favorite things. When I'm at an amusement park, I'll step aside and watch while the people I'm with go ride the "Tazmanian Terror" or "Inverted Insanity". My mind has been a roller coaster since 12/3. Part of me welcomes the change, and the freedom the change affords. The other part is terrified that my next job will be selling time shares at Tahiti Village.

I've made a lot of contacts through my years here, and they've reached out to me to help. I have to decide whether I still want to do radio or not before I make the next move. When I've gone out of town for "radio things" that welcome stations from around the country, I look with a general disdain on those "personalities" that have worked in Albany, Boise, Baton Rouge, Lincoln, Minot, Santa Rosa, etc. I was proud of the fact that I stayed in one place, one town for 12 years. That got me some strange looks. It was supposed to mean something, too. Guess not.

Anyway, as strange as it sounds, the EASY thing to do would be to leave- to send out tapes across the country, and tap into the radio connections that I've made. The HARD thing to do is to stay put. Bizarre. Back in 1993, I thought nothing of packing everything I own into my Buick Century (there was plenty of room left over) and head west to the warmth. It was just me. Now, with wife and family (yes, it's a dog, but he still gets us up at night), their well being also has to be taken into account more so than mine. Pumpkin will go with me wherever I go, but I'm still a little hesitant to start sending out packages. My situation here dictates that I sit out for a period of six months (five months now), meaning that the next time I could give time and temperature is May 3rd. Will stations here still want me then? Those I've approached have greeted me with alarming indifference. Have I overestimated what my value would be?

On the bright side, the Packers are hosting the NFC Championship on Sunday, so my mood this week is more likely to be high than low.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Shock, Denial, etc etc

One of the things that I'm firmly convinced of is this: The unemployment rate (5%) is currently so low in this country because of the steaming pile of dung that is called "Daytime TV". Being exposed to it long enough must- MUST- make people flee their relative comforts of home straight into the workaday world, drudgery be damned. I knew this before I was let go, but a month on the bench has confirmed it, in spades. Newton Minnow described television as "a vast wasteland", and did so in the 50's, an era TV historians (what a great job that has to be) refer to as "The Golden Age". If Minnow wasn't already dead, the television he'd view these days would most certainly make him wish that he was.

Unemployment exposes you to many things- one of which is that you learn exactly how much people hate working. I know that I should be saving money right now, but I go out to lunch every day. It makes me happy, cheers me up. Why? Besides occasionally getting too much change back, I listen to how people talk about their jobs. To a person, they hate them. They hate the job, hate the boss, hate the commute, hate the co-workers. Lunch is the high point of their day, one hour of precious freedom. Funny how I've had people tell me how envious they are of my new situation, yet are terrified at the same time of facing such a fate.

Work sucks, and it's simple why. You don't work FOR YOU. You work FOR THEM. Stop that. Work for you and see how it goes. And don't think for a minute that you're a valued employee. I worked 12 years at the same place (KWNR, in case you didn't read the first post), and was tossed out like yesterday's trash. Funny thing is, I wasn't surprised by it.

There had been some moves in the 60 days or so prior to 12/3 that created giant red flags. Segments I did were going to be eliminated. Others on the show were to step more into the spotlight, while at the same time, I stepped back. My wife (from here forward referred to as Pumpkin) wanted to plan a vacation for '08 and I told her to let's make sure I still had a gig. This helped soften the blow for her when the hammer did fall. Sure it was a shock, but not a surprise.

Why was I let go? "Too newsy". "Too black and white". Apparently, from these reasons, it would've worked out for me if I could describe my style as "hopelessly vague". Ratings were good. The show was number one (English language) in morning drive for the final full month that I worked there. You're not supposed to be punished for success. Just resented for it.

The most successful personalities out there, be it media, business, whatever- are black and white. They have convictions and beliefs and stick to them religiously.

(getting a soda. hang on.....)

Being "black and white" is a GOOD THING. It's been proven time after time after time. "Stick to your convictions and you'll be rewarded for them." My reward was my walking papers, so that explains the small period of confusion I'm going through right now.

Shock, Denial, Anger, Acceptance. The Four Stages of Grief. They're applied most often to deaths of loved ones, but can also be applied to job loss. I think I'm on the outskirts of Anger right now. Leaving Anger, not arriving. I listened to the KWNR morning show this morning and it was shockingly bad. "Accident scene" bad. As I listened to break after break land with a thud, I couldn't help but think of what I would've said, what I would have done. I couldn't believe what I was hearing, couldn't believe that I was let go in preference of....that (that'd be denial talking).

It was so bad........I expect to see it on Daytime TV soon.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Introductions are in Order

Well, hi there. Welcome to "Notes from the (S)crapheap, one man's journey through unemployment. Bored yet? Ok, introductions are in order.

My name is Mitch Kelly, and I was recently cut loose from KWNR radio in las Vegas, where I had worked the past 12 years, 10 of those 12 years during the morning show that ran from 5am-10am. My employment there lasted until December 3rd or 2007, when I was pulled off the show at 9:30am and told they were letting me go.

"Too newsy" I was told. It's been more than a month and I still don't know what that means.

In spite of working with six different co-hosts, five different program directors, and three different market managers, it was all of a sudden decided that I didn't fit in. A nationwide search is now going on for my replacement.

Nicole Simpson's killer will be found in less time.

Anyway.....I decided this little blog would be a nice idea to pass the time...or it could be the worst idea I've ever had. Back at KWNR, I was told not to blog my thoughts on things, but to post, you know, "Pop culture nuggets". Bears that bowl, a baby who can burp "Stairway to Heaven", important stuff like that. I tried for about two weeks before becoming rabidly disinterested.

So, this page will go toward furthering what I originally wanted my personality page to be. You won't agree with everything on it (even though you should), but what goes up stays up. I doubt my entries will be that lengthy because just typing this one out has my back killing me.

Next time up, a look at what happened prior to 12/3, and my thanks to those listeners and friends who have somehow found me sitting on the (S)crapheap, rubbing my dog's belly.

I promised my wife I'd unload the dishwasher tonight and she'll be home in 10. Gotta go.