Wednesday, February 20, 2008

December 3rd

I didn't think I'd post anything today but, truth be told, I'm bored. So here we go.

There was an excitement around the station when NB arrived on the scene, as he was saying all the right things. It didn't take very long for me to realize that whatever trust I had put in him was misplaced.

Within a week of NB taking over the job as Program Director, he pulled me aside and told me he was aware that my contract was coming to an end and promised that he would be taking care of that. I took that to mean I was safe. Wrong. He was taking care of it, alright. Anyway, that little meeting gave me some much needed peace of mind. The ratings were decent, and I had no reason to believe that I was going to be shown the door.

At the "cards on the table" meeting, NB told me that the senior vp (from previous posts: the one who didn't like me "but couldn't remember why") wanted to do away with news on the show. NB told me not to worry, that news would continue to be done. It only ate up five minutes an hour, and NB thought it was an important feature in the show. You're constantly told that the best radio is "live and local". Nothing's more live and local than news, right?

The following week, NB told me that news would be going away after the first of the year.

My feeling is this: Senior VP leaned on NB and told him in no uncertain terms to get rid of news. NB was moving here from 1,000 miles away, and was having trouble selling his house. He was in no position to show backbone, and rolled over. Maybe I'm wrong, but it makes sense to me. It also made me realize that I now trusted nothing that came out of NB's mouth. Everything was pointing to more of Mark, more of natalie, and less of me.

As December approached I became increasingly concerned that I had not been informed of CC's intent to renew my contract. The typical contract of an air personality at CCLV is for one year, so you have to do this dance every 12 months. I was told of CC's intention to offer me a new deal for 2007 sometime in November of 2006. November 2007 came and went with nary a whisper for 2008.

CC is known for letting people go at the end of every year in order to make budget. Most of the victims are extremely well-qualified air personalities who have spent years building goodwill in the community and profitibility for the company. As the days went by without a new contract being offered, I realized the chances were increasing that I was going to join that "dishonor roll" of budget cut victims.

Could this really be happening? With all the ratings success, all the charitable work, all the changes I had survived through- could this really be it for me? I had done all that I knew, all that I had been taught, to make myself a successful jock, and to become an important part of my community. It was about to all become meaningless.

Monday, December 3rd. There was nothing particularly memorable about the show, which was becoming a semi-regular occurance. NB would pop down to the studio every once in awhile for a little small talk, maybe 2-3 times a week. It wasn't unusual to see him come in around 9:30 that day. The 9a-10a hour of the show was mostly music anyway. After some small talk about a room NB was renting (remember, his family is 1,000 miles away trying to sell their house), he says, "Mitch, can I see you for a minute?"

I turned and looked at Mark. The color had gone out of his face. I followed NB down to the office of the Operations Manager. The OM is the building's 2nd in Command. The optimist in me said that they were going to talk to me about a new deal. Then I saw the Business Manager, the same Business Manager who was in the large conference room when they told us Brooks had been fired. No one looked me in the eye as I entered. This wasn't going to be a happy occasion. I was going to be fired.

NB did most of the talking, but honestly, I didn't hear much of what he was saying. I knew what the deal was. The Senior VP of Clear Channel had leaned hard on NB to get rid of me, and he was just a good soldier following orders. In all, the meeting in the office lasted 10 minutes. I was given my termination papers and was on my way out. When someone is let go, typically they are allowed to gather their personal belongings and are then walked out the door. When my firing session was completed, NB was nowhere to be seen (he left before it was over, in fact). I stood out by my desk, all alone, holding my termination agreement.

After saying goodbye to a couple of people, I walked into the Sunny 106.5 studios and said goodbye to Melanie and to Michael Neal. At first they thought I was joking, but it quickly became apparant that I was not. A couple of hugs later, I went back into the KWNR studio one last time. Mark was on the phone with his wife, breaking the news. I patted him on the shoulder and grabbed my coat. We didn't really say anything to each other. He reached out with a "call me later", but that could wait.

And then I was gone. 12 years. Over. My immediate thoughts were about what was I going to tell my wife, my parents? How would they handle it? That worried me the most. It's said that everyone who works in radio gets fired eventually. I foolishly thought I could be the one to escape that noose. I heard there were people crying at the CCLV building that day. I have yet to shed a tear over what happened. Re-telling the story makes me more angry than it does sad. I'll save my sadness for the people who still work there.

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