My friend Tom called me today while I was work. A radio friend who I have known for about 8 years, Tom has had his share of ups, but mostly downs in the Broadcasting business.
He was calling me from his home in Sacramento, where he moved a little over a year ago from San Diego. His tone was a combination of downtrodden and angry. The main subject of his call was San Diego talk radio station KOGO, and their new line-up of air talent (my friend Marilyn was fortunate enough to land a spot in the 4:00-7:00 p.m. slot).
I listened as Tom berated the station manager for not taking him into consideration and bringing him aboard. Apparently Tom’s present radio employer was only giving him two days a week — not enough to live on. His prior job was a part-time overnight news job at another station in Sacramento.
The first time Tom was let go from KOGO about 7 years ago he moved to Palm Springs, then later Las Vegas. We kept in touch via Facebook and sometimes phone. From what I can gather, he locked horns with management at both of those stations, more than likely due to his loose cannon tactics.
He landed back in San Diego 3 years ago, much to my delight. But it didn’t take long for him to ruffle feathers with his forwardness and desperation for a full-time gig, which then transitioned into bitterness and a meltdown when the gig fell through.
I listened supportively as Tom waxed on and on about how he’s more qualified than the new hires at KOGO; then he went on to talk about another radio station in San Diego that wasn’t answering his calls, hadn’t gotten back to him regarding his résumé.
“I guess I’ll never be able to get back to San Diego,” he lamented with disgusted air.
I know that most of Tom’s issues with holding down a radio job for a long period has a lot to do with his somewhat overbearing personality, however, I made a point to choose my words carefully and compassionately, as I do care about him, and I believe in his talent.
Even though I am very content with my position as a Traffic Reporter/Air Personality gig, I was able to commiserate with Tom about some of the people in the business whom we shared a mutual disdain. My mini-rant about a couple of individuals made him chuckle, and it was a great, albeit brief diversion from his frustration.
If I wanted to be brutally honest, I could have delivered a diatribe not unlike the one Dustin Hoffman’s agent (played by Sydney Pollack) threw at him in Tootsie.
“Tom, you have burned too many bridges in this business. No one wants to work with you. You argue with everybody!”
Instead I approached it with, “Tom, studies say most people — about 85% — absolutely hate conflict, and will avoid it at all costs. Your meltdown at KOGO back in 2013 upset management. Although your disappointment at not getting the News Anchor job was understandable, it’s doubtful management is going to give you a break, for fear of a recurrence if things don’t go your way.”
There are numerous people struggling to make a living in Broadcasting. Many have egos that write checks that their talent can’t cash. Tom has the ego and the talent; what he lacks is People Skills, and that is important in just about every profession.
It’s hard not to get sucked into other peoples’ drama, especially when you want to be a supportive friend. Fortunately I am a good listener, and I do have some insight.
“Thanks for allowing me to vent, ” Tom said in closing.
“No problem, Tom. Don’t lose hope. Hang in there, and good luck.”
After I hung up I looked around my small studio, and a feeling of utmost appreciation washed over me; I felt even more blessed at my job than I normally do. I thought about the homeless man I had given $2.00 to out my car wind on the way into work; unbeknownst to him I was “rewarding” him for helping me feel so very fortunate.
And now as I sit in my chaise lounge, a glass of wine at my side and a dog at my feet, hammering out Day 17, I feel that sense of appreciation again. I feel like everything that happened this afternoon is a reminder to never take anything for granted. Never.