Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Of Firing and Fueling Up

One of my best friends in radio thinks he's going to get fired today.

He laid his case out there for me to see, and if I were him I'd feel the same way. If it happens it will continue my former employer's streak of making remarkably bad programming decisions. Good people who were instrumental in the station's success are being dismissed by people who have been instrumental in that same station's failure. Yet, those in management continue to keep their jobs. I have a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Hearing of someone's dismissal still brings back memories of mine, and you never get over it.

Just hearing that more people are expected to ring in the New Year here this year than last year, which puzzles me, considering our economy is "on the brink of total collapse". Rooms on the Strip go anywhere from $199-$799 a night. Not cheap. Everything's more expensive. Flights to Vegas this week cost more, too. Funny. I don't recall a huge rush to Las Vegas to celebrate New Year's during the actual Great Depression of the 1930's. Yet, 300,000 people will be on the Strip tonight. How can we actually have more people coming during the time of a huge economic downturn? Anyone?

They're coming to escape the realities of that same disastrous economy! At least, that's what we're led to believe. Again, it's all about turning a positive into a negative. That seems to be what the news media- of which I am a member- seems to do best these days.

Gotta go buy a tank of gas before work. Heck, it's so cheap now, I may even buy a tank for the guy next to me. He may just be one of the vast minority who doesn't have a job- though the odds are against it.

Monday, December 29, 2008


It's my birthday today, and from all indications, it will be a day like any other. My work hours are a little different (12p-8p), so there won't be any going out and celebrating- not that there would be if I worked 4a-noon. I'll hang out with the dog, grab some lunch, read about the Packers' game, and head into work. I'll get home at 8:30, watch a little TV with Pumpkin, and turn in. Day over. That's fine.

All things considered, I'd rather be 43 than 23. I remember what 23 was like. No money, uncertain future, crappy apartment (unless I was living with my parents, which was possible). 23 wasn't a lot of fun. I hadn't learned anything yet. Sure, I'd gone away to college, but anyone who equates college to a "real life" experience is a first-class moron.

As you get older, you're supposed to acquire a certain amount of wisdom, wisdom gained from one crushing defeat or heartbreak after another. I'd rather have wisdom than youth right now. The only thing that doesn't improve with age is potential. You have a ton of potential in your teens and 20's, but by the time you get into your 40's, you're supposed to have tapped into it. Get laid off when you're 45? Time to start over. You don't hear things like, " he has the potential to do.....". Nope. That's the only thing that scares me but, frankly, it scares me a little bit less than it did when I was jobless 12 months ago.

Should I become jobless again in 2009 (and earlier I predicted that would happen), there aren't a lot of 'potential' options for a 43 year old guy. Still, I'd rather be closer to retirement. Maybe I'm closer than I'd like to be. Here's to me.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Snow Day

I just came in from shaking a ton of snow off of my trees in the back yard. I don't know if they can be saved. You don't landscape a Vegas back yard thinking that six inches of snow is going to fall. Maybe I should do that next time. Who knew? Certainly not the weather people, who are great at telling me it's going to be sunny 7 days in a row, but totally miss the biggest snow event in 29 years (although they did say that areas above 3,000 feet would get at least five inches. Way to go, guys!).

It's still snowing as I write. It began roughly 5 hours ago. I now realize that my nostalgic feeling for snow was badly misguided. I don't mind it when I'm sitting inside the house, but otherwise there's nothing good about it. It took me an hour to get home from the dentist, a trip that usually takes 20 minutes. Pumpkin's car isn't designed for snowy travel, and I'm nervous about her drive home. My aforementioned trees are at risk of dying, meaning more money wasted on the backyard. The early drive tomorrow will no doubt be slick and dangerous. I don't know if what I've driven on today has damaged the under body of my car, but I wouldn't be surprised if it did.
In the tradition of disgruntled Iraqis, I almost threw a shoe at the TV a few minutes ago. They featured a five year old kid enjoying the "joy and wonder" of the snowfall. Here's what that kid needs to do: Grab a shovel and get to work. Nothing takes the "joy and wonder" away from snowfall like having to clean it off, shake it off, dry it off, and pay it off. Look at the snowball he made!!! Give him a broom, for Kringle's sake!

I'm just cranky, and using the blog to get it out, instead of getting on Pumpkin for a dumb reason like her loving snow.

Breaking News: Southwest Airlines just canceled all their remaining flights out of McCarran for the night. I wonder how that kid would feel about the "joy and wonder" of snow if it caused him to sleep at the gate for the night.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Writer's Block

I don't know what to write about.

Most columnists are like the equivalent of Mexican food. They write basically the same thing each time, but they just package it differently. I'm not a columnist, but it feels like I'm starting to do the same two or three topics over and over again. Whether it's riffing on the economy, or the sad state of radio, you can only change up the phraseology so many times.

What's left? Just random thoughts and expressions about my day, my weekend, my life. I'm thankful that my life is so routine that I don't have any drama to write about. I go to work in 90 minutes, a bit of a departure from my regular shift, such as that is. Right now, Maverick (my dog) is sitting at my feet, staring at me like I've forgotten something. That, or he's wondering what I'm doing home at this time. He's very routine oriented, just like his master. He's still staring. There has to be something that I've forgotten, and it must be food related for him to be staring this long.

He just sighed. He must really think I'm some kind of idiot.

Even though I'll be anchoring the news for eight hours today, I don't want to watch any news prior to going in to work today. The big stories will no doubt be the weather, the auto bailout, and features about families whose Christmas dinner will be them splitting a can of beans over a hotplate. I don't want to know what's going on right now. I'm content watching Animal Planet. Maybe there's a good gossip show on E! Any break from reality is a welcome one.

One week from now at this time, I'll be sitting at a McCarran Airport gate, eating a Cinnabon, waiting to fly to Milwaukee. Today's temperature in Milwaukee? 6 degrees. Yet, it's a cold reality that I can't wait to face.

Maverick is still staring.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Inside The World of "Pessimistic Guy"

I'm having grilled cheese and soup tonight. I like grilled cheese and soup. I'm not having grilled cheese and soup because of the bad economy. I'm having it because I like it.

I was listening to an interview with Jay Leno on NBC's Nightly News show. In fairness , I came in late so I don't know the exact context of why this was said, but Leno will be doing a show five nights a week in prime time once his "Tonight Show" gig ends. He responded to some question from Brian Williams, saying that "people are going to bed earlier because of the bad economy".


That has to be the most preposterous thing I've ever heard, and I really wish I would've heard the full context of why he said it. Going to bed early because of the bad economy? I go to bed early because I have to get to a job in the morning. If the bad economy forced me out of a job, I could hang out at a 24 hour Dunkin' Donuts until they run out of crullers and never have to worry about when I turned in. Ridiculous.

Here's my day as seen through the eyes of "Pessimistic Guy"

Up at 3am- I'd like to sleep later, but fear for my job means I have to get up at such an early hour so I don't get canned.

Should I get gas? Not at 3:45am. I might get robbed by someone who lost their job....because of the bad economy

I pack my breakfast and lunch...because I can't afford to eat out ....because of the bad economy

I take a nap when I'm escape the pain of the bad economy

I walk my dog...because driving him to the park means buying gas that I can't afford....because of the bad economy.

The thermostat is set to keep my power bill down. Ok, that actually makes sense. Never mind.

The plan tonight: watch some TV....because going out to dinner/movie is too expensive... because of the bad economy (not to mention the drive, the gas, etc..)

I go to bed escape more news of the bad economy.

My reasons for doing all of the above are completely different from what I've stated, but it just goes to show you that every act can be framed in a negative way.

(after dinner)

My stomach hurts a little. Probably from the pangs of guilt that I feel from being able to enjoy such a fine meal while so many others go hungry....because of the bad economy. Either that, or my milk went bad.

Monday, December 8, 2008

A (Non-Essential) Bullet With My Name On It

I usually don't make bold predictions about the year ahead, nor do I put much stock in them. Nevertheless, I have one prediction that's been rattling around in my head, so let's just get it out there and say that I hope I'm wrong:

I'll be let go again in 2009.

There. I just see too many things happening to radio clusters to believe that I will be in the same company this time next year. I don't know when the firing will happen. I don't know the circumstances surrounding it. I just think that it's meant to be. Air staffs and so-called "non-essential" radio personnel are being slashed to the core. My old company, Clear Channel is taking the lead on this, and when CC takes the lead in something, thing are bound to end badly. Picture a flock of ducks whose leader has one wing. They're all going to crash.

When we look at something like education and where they have to cut to save many, the last people looked at as "non-essential personnel" are the teachers. They have the connection with the children. Without good teachers, schools and the education system as a whole will fail. What does everyone want to cut? Administrators. Big wigs. Not the troops on the ground. Same with the car companies. Washington says that to make the auto bailout a little more palatable to the public (whose tax dollars would pay for it), the CEOs of the Big Three auto makers should step down. Not the people who build the cars. No. Management. Radio's solution? Take away the connection the general public has with the radio stations. Fire jock after jock, the people who differentiate radio from the competitors that are taking (especially younger ) listeners away. Not a good business plan.

I've never seen anything that said that radio companies should whittle back its management, and I doubt that I ever would. Only in a business like radio would the "non-essential personnel" be the people on a level closest to the audience you covet. Picture going shopping at Kohl's this Saturday and all that they have is one cashier because everyone else has been laid off. She can't help you find something because she has to ring up a customer. You can't find anyone to help you on the floor. You're told this is the way it's going to be from now on. Do you return to that store? Of course not, you're not a dope. Yet that's what radio will become in 2009: the big box store with only a couple of helpers and a dwindling customer base.

I really don't think I'm going to be one of the helpers. I think there's plenty of room in the "non-essential" bin for someone like me, and I'm guessing that's where I end up. Clip and save.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Juice For Breakfast

For every 20 deathly dull assignments I get as a "reporter" (I only put in in quotes because I'm a reporter in job description only), there's a plum gig like tomorrow's: Covering the sentencing of O.J. Simpson. Simpson will be sentenced after being convicted of robbery and kidnapping charges from an incident at a local casino 14 months ago. The wheels of justice turn slow, my readers. I'm not talking about how this case took 14 months to adjudicate, either. It goes back much further than that.

If Simpson gets a harsh sentence, there's no doubt in my mind it will be because the judge felt that justice wasn't served in O.J.'s murder trial 14 (13?) years ago. He walked, of course. Not many agreed with the verdict, but there it was, and there was nothing anyone could do about it- until now. Methinks there's going to be little revenge tied to the sentence.

Undoubtedly, Simpson was stupid to burst into a room with his friends or hangers-on and do what he did. But is it worth life in prison? Of course not, yet that's what he's facing. He'll likely get less than that, but it still just doesn't rise to the level of a jailable crime to me, especially when other principals in the case have profited handsomely. Just think of how many people have developed careers over the whole O.J. thing. The first O.J. trial was the best thing that ever happened to Greta Van Susteren, Roger Cossack, Marcia Clark, Johnny Cochran, Dan Abrams, Nancy Grace, Dominick Dunne, Christopher Darden, Jeffrey Toobin, etc. They all made bank over the case, no matter what side they were on. Who knows? Maybe tomorrow will be my Big Chance.

There wasn't much excitement over the whole Vegas trial, just because it was so small time and involved many a low-life scumbag, certainly not the types that Simpson would normally associate himself with. That changes tomorrow. Tomorrow, we're at the finish line. Tomorrow, Simpson will go to jail for perhaps the rest of his life. Many will cheer, few will cry. I'll do neither. A hefty sentence tomorrow is no doubt a nod to yesterday.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Rear View Musings

There's just something about December 3rd that brings me pain. Today, I was in the dentist chair for an hour, as work began on a couple of new crowns for my teeth. Just another one of the perks that come with getting older and abusing Corn Nuts

Today marks one year since my dismissal for KWNR. It seems much, much longer ago. I still talk with my friends over there, but those talks are now once a week at best. That's expected. I still like seeing them, and I still like talking to them, but I will always be reminded of what happened and whatever fun I have with them will always be tempered.

If you've been with this blog from the beginning, you know the whole story of the firing. For a recap of December 3rd, 2007, click here

It's been 12 months of wild emotional swings, both on the personal and professional side. I could never have survived it without nights with Pumpkin, drinking days with Mark, the occasional Fellas' Night, and the company of my dog, Maverick. I still haven't had a cry about anything. I guess I know now that I can survive it if and when it happens again. December 3rd was a shock to the system, but I think I came out of it better for the experience.

I'll keep on blogging and keep on slogging. This has been a nice outlet, even if upon further review it appears that I sure do complain a lot.

I want this day to end.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Waiting and Wondering

I was surprisingly productive today. Not that I just sit around every day, but I was happy when the quality and the quantity of work I did today.

Regarding the matter of the November 19th entry: I've returned serve and now await the reply. One of the biggest cop-outs of all time to me has been someone quitting their job to "spend more time with family". When someone loses a job in media it's usually because they're a budget cut or an attitude problem. When someone quits a prime gig, it's usually because they don't get along with their boss, their workload increased without more pay, or their workload decreased and they're bringing home less. Yet you'll never hear someone say the real reason they leave. If they have kids, you'll always hear, "I wanted to spend more time with my family".

That excuse is always brought out because it can't be attacked. He/She wants to spend more time with their children? Awww. How can you criticize that? You can't. Well, you can, but you'd be described as a coldhearted bastard without any feelings. I always wondered what the dinner conversation is like for the family whose breadwinner quits to spend more time with them. Does the family resent that person because they're no longer bringing money in to feed, clothe and shelter them? What good does spending more time with family do if, by quitting your job, you've lessened their quality of life? Questions without answers.

My response to the request of November 19th was essentially that I need to spend time with my family. How about that? Nothing's been decided yet. The person who makes the final decision is out of the office and seemingly eternally unreachable. I know I'm doing the right thing, even though nothing's been done yet. I feel like I'm at a 4/6 table waiting for the player next across from me to make a move. And that player holds significantly more chips than me. Question is: depending on the move, do I fold or do I hold?

Monday, December 1, 2008


At long last, it's official,. We're in a recession. I guess we've been in a recession since last December. How is this determined? A bunch of economists got together and declared it so. So we've been in a recession for about a year. It's expected to last another year. This should be received as great news. Everyone knows that recessions are followed by long periods of success, so the fact the the recession began- a year ago-should be celebrated.

Apparently, consumers already knew this and celebrated by spending more on Black Friday than they did last year, before the recession began. This is remarkable. All signs have pointed to people spending less, eating less, huddling around fire stoked by torn up, useless want-ads. Instead, we got tons of people spending, a dead Wal Mart clerk, and an abundance of flat screens, Play Stations and Blue-Ray DVD players flying off the shelves and out the doors. Big ticket stuff.

Now I'm not saying that times aren't difficult. The mortgage meltdown is real. Unemployment is up. Businesses are cutting costs by laying off workers. Here in Las Vegas, both the slowdown in tourism and construction businesses has the town on edge. The fact that people went out and shopped should be heartwarming and reassuring....except for the family of a certain dead Wal Mart clerk.

Recession be damned and full speed ahead.