Monday, December 14, 2009
"DEAD AIR" CHAPTER ONE, AN INTRODUCTION
One sunny March morning general sales manager Matthew Garcia was bounced down three flights of stairs and out into the parking lot on his ass from “Crux Communications” in Tampa, Florida. The “three flight bounce” was just a metaphor, an inside joke of an expression we were all using since this had become almost a weekly phenomena in Tampa both from Crux as well as their consolidated competitors, all throughout 2008 and 2009 as the recession deepened.
Matt was one of the most intelligent, creative, successful, educated and knowledgeable managers I had ever had the pleasure of working for. And with a black belt in Kung-Fu as well as history of being a successful boxer, the “stair bounce” would have taken me as well as several other 200 pound men to even come close to achieve.
It was, of course, to “save money” for the company since Matthew had negotiated a salary far superior to some other managers at the company and was thus an ‘easy target’ as he put it. And he was worth it. He had more then doubled the average commercial rate for the radio station we both worked for since we both began our careers there in 2004. I had ‘retired’ the month before to write this book.
During the same period of time somewhere in Nebraska, again to save money, another one of the huge consolidators, “Carrier Wave Communications” was enthusiastically encouraging the listeners to their country station to “come on down here, y’all!!” to the fairgrounds where a huge country music fest was about to take place. Trouble was that, again to ‘save money’ the announcements had been pre-recorded two weeks prior and didn’t take into account the reality of the current weather situation. A huge hurricane was about to touch down right in the middle of the venue. Despite frantic warnings from the National Weather service, the fans ignored the ‘breaking news’, totally bought into the content of the two week old announcements, supposedly “live” and over 300 cars ended up under water or heavily damaged with mud as the banks of a neighboring river overflowed, the performers had long abandoned the stage and were “hunkered down” in their tour buses. It took 36 towing companies and the threat of a class action lawsuit for “Carrier Wave” to finally let go of their ‘act of God’ cowardice excuses and make good on all of the damages, well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Not to mention the skull cracked open of one fan, who dove from his vehicle into the torrent to retrieve his false buck teeth, smashing his head open on a boulder hidden by the rushing waters.
Within the same month a business manager, a lady who had been at “Nimbus” Communications for 13 years, drove into her garage, knowing that she HAD to quit her position since the cameras and the ‘big brother’ monitoring of every employee’s every keystroke, every computer action and every phone call—along with constant harassing threats from upper management each day—had broken her down into a semi catatonic state. She knew she had to quit but also knew that she’d lose her house if she did. So she simply left her car running and hit the garage door remote, quickly succumbing to carbon monoxide death. What happened with this once thriving business?
Posted by Bob Curran at 7:05 AM
Labels: demise of the radio industry, radio consolidation