The Great Intern Debate – Are Unpaid Internships Illegal?

I recently came across a discussion on the Connecticut Board of Radio-Info calling internships into question.  Why should radio stations not pay interns?  This is, of course, relevant to other industries.  But I’m going to stick with radio here for the most part.

A little of my history… I got into radio at the age of 24, which is actually kind of late to get started in the industry.  I was a student at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven.  I was a part of the college radio station, WOWL, and absolutely fell in love with radio.  Part of my curriculum as a Communications major was that I had to do an internship.  There were 2 major radio stations in the area… WPLR (99 Rock), which was a rock station, and WKCI (KC 101) which was a CHR.  I always preferred rock, so the natural inclination would have been to go to WPLR.  However, I knew a number of people who interned at both stations, and the folks that went to WKCI seemed to always get hired out of their internship, while WPLR gave them a handshake and sent them on their way (for the most part).  So I gritted my teeth and went to ‘KCI.  And 3 months after I started interning, I got hired part-time to run the board for the “Rick Dees Weekly Top 40”.  After that, they started giving me weekend airshifts, and I eventually got hired as the Full-Time Assistant Promotions Director.  And it happened because I worked hard in the internship.  When I wasn’t at school, I spent my time at the radio station.  Doing anything I could to learn what was going on.  Since then, I have worked as the Marketing & Promotions Director at stations such as WTIC-AM, WTIC-FM (96.5 TIC), WRKO-AM, WRKI-FM (I-95), and WDBY-FM (Y105).  I have also had the good fortune to be an air personality at WKCI-FM, WQGN (Q105), WDAQ-FM (98Q), WTIC-FM, WRKI-FM, and WDAQ-FM.

In order to write this post, I wanted to see what others thought.  I conducted a very intense, focused, and expensive survey.  OK, I posed the question on my Facebook account and let my friends comment.

To begin with, interns receive college credit for their internship.  Essentially, it’s a class.  You don’t sit through a history class in college and collect a paycheck at the end of the hour.  Interns are going to their radio station to learn about the business and whether or not they even want to get into radio as a career.  Anne said, “I loved my internship at WPLR.. was there for 4 years,
learned all kinds of good things… like I didn’t want to work in commercial radio! Very valuable information when your still in college trying to figure things out!”

And Gina points out that, “My college internship at Z100 in NYC was a fabulous experience, both professionally and personally. I lived with a cousin and his family for the summer. This type of experience forces you to be resourceful, responsible and teaches the value of hard work. Too many young people today expect everything to be handed to them…entitled to be compensated for merely existing! There’s no need for a person who’s not even left college with a degree yet to be paid…they have no experience to hang thier hat on and they are there to LEARN, not to be paid. Payment comes when you’ve earned a hired position there. Internships are a great way to get there.”

The problem becomes that people view interns as unpaid labor.  I suppose, in a sense, that it is. I know that when I was running internship programs, I completely depended on them.  But, again… college credit.  They have to be there AS IF IT WERE A CLASS.  And when the time came that I needed to hire a new staff person, guess who I hired!  Think about it… wouldn’t you rather hire someone that you already know than someone from the outside?  When I was at Cumulus in Danbury, I probably hired 50% of my promotions interns into part-time promotion coordinator positions.  My Program Director would also hire them as part-time board operators and personalities.  Not bad for your first real radio job!  Greg mentioned, “Unpaid internships are like getting a clunker for your first car – you need to be humbled before moving on to better things.” It’s true!  I’ve seen too many people walk into my radio stations thinking that they could do (and deserved to do) whatever they wanted!

The first rule of radio is that you’re not nearly as good as you think you are.  The second rule is that commercial radio is NOT anything like college radio.  Do you think you’re going to come in, start off in Afternoon Drive, and get to play whatever you want?  Think again… You’re most likely going to start off in the promotions department, helping us to set up remote broadcasts, hanging banners, giving out prizes, and LEARNING TO TALK TO THE PUBLIC!  You see… it’s more than just hanging banners.  You need to get out and learn who the listeners are.  The station is more about them than it is about you.  Why are they fans? What do THEY want to hear?  What do THEY want the radio station to be?  After that process, you may get the chance to run the board for a syndicated show or get a weekend overnight shift (some stations still put people on at 3am), and for that… you will be paid.  Probably minimum wage, but paid, nonetheless.

Wherever I worked, internships were primarily in the promotions department.  Simply, it’s the place that needs the most help. Unfortunately, in this day and age with automation, there is not really anything for an intern to do in the studio.  I would encourage them to go into the studio (with the DJs permission) and just sit there and absorb.  Todd made an intersting comment, “I believe a good internship allows for the intern to embrace the roles that peak their interests and shape their long term credibility. They should also be allowed to avoid what disinterests them. For instance an aspiring radio news reporter intern should NOT be assigned to assist the sales department. Chances are this model of freedom could only exist if the intern is NOT on the payroll. Once you are compensated by someone else, you are under an obligation to meet their requirements and expectations” I actually don’t agree with this.  A good internship is going to give the intern a well-rounded vision of what goes on. Maybe they thought they were interested in news, but after getting exposed to the sales department, maybe they would decide that perhaps that is the direction that they want to go.  The cool thing about interning in promotions, is that it is one of the only dpeartment that interacts with every other department in the station.

Most radio companies require that that the internship exchange for school credit.  Therefore it’s NOT illegal because the student is actually receiving something.  As Samantha points out, “If interns are getting college credit or trade school credit, they don’t need to be paid and that should be legal. But if you are hiring an “intern” and not requiring that they are getting credit, the company should pay at least minimum wage or else it is free labor. Too many companies are trying to save money by eliminating paying positions in favor of having interns do the work.” I actually see both sides of this argument.  When I was running the internship program at Cumulus in Danbury, I was allowed to hire interns who were NOT doing it for credit.  And the simple fact is that they were, for the most part, better interns.  These were the people that wanted to do it because they loved radio and wanted to get their foot in.  Interns doing it for credit were sometimes there only because it was a “blow-off” class.

Kirk feels that interns should be paid based on what they do, “It depends on the quality of the program too. Most of what I did was marketing, not broadcasting. No one asked to hear a sample hour of me on cassette or explained a format clock to me. That all happened at WXCI in college. My coop was at WTXX (a television station) in Prospect and that was much more hands-on. The GM and I had to meet every week to see what I was doing. That never happened at RKI. So, I should have been compensated at the “I” but not at TXX.” This raises a good point… my question for Kirk would be did he ask anyone to listen to an aircheck or ask to have clocks explained?  He may have… I didn’t know him at the time.  But to get the most out of an internship, the person has to ask.  You will only get out of it what you put in.  If you show the Program Director that you are interested in these things, I’m sure he/she will go out of the way to help.  Corey, who is a chef and not in radio (but certainly knows about it second hand because he is my brother) mentioned “For my industry, I think a short unpaid stage is OK…but not a full internship….with this said…once hired, it is the Chef’s responsibility to train you for your station…the other stuff you want to learn….that’s up to you to make yourself available and pay attention too.”

Kirk takes a different point of view than me… “It really depends on the internship. College students should be paid a stipend. Back in the 80’s, I Interned for I-95 (WRKI). I mostly drove all over Fairfield County delivering I-95 Gazettes to advertisers without being compensated for gas and mileage. I accepted this because I knew that it was an opportunity. Bruce Goldsen and I did a Remote at the New Milford Burger King once and I did the Oyster Fest. What I got out of it was some concert tickets and T-shirts, Bart Gannon would let me fool around in the Prod Room while he was on the air. What I learned is that there was no way that I’d be on the air without experience; which is why I enrolled at WestConn for WXCI.” I don’t believe they should be paid a stipend.  I DO believe that hey should be reimbursed for expenses such as gas.  Or better… they should be allowed to drive the station vehicles.  Get the logo out on the streets!  But some insurance companies don’t allow it because technically, an intern is not an employee.  When I was with I-95, interns WERE allowed to drive the station vehicles.

And then there is the question of the fact that owners are laying off people by the thousands.  If they are not paying the experienced, why would they pay the people trying to learn? As Andrea says, “If radio stations have to pay for interns there won’t be any. Radio stations are too cheap to even keep seasoned part-timers on staff, do you really think they would shell out any cash for someone with NO experience?”

I think what it comes down to is whether or not you really want to break into the business.  If the person is trying to learn the industry, there is no better way to do it then through an internship… whether it’s paid or unpaid.  Like I said before, if you are doing it for credit, it’s a college class.  I also believe that if you are doing it as a “volunteer” (not for credit), it’s your choice.  I volunteer for the American Cancer Society handling publicity for a local Relay For Life.  Should I start insisting that the Cancer Society pay me?  Of course not!  I do it for personal reasons, and truthfully, for professional reasons, as well.  I have been very open in that the Cancer Society is an organization that I would someday like to work for.  My hope is that they would take my work as a volunteer into consideration when deciding whether to hire me.  If a radio station hires an intern for credit, it’s not illegal.  And if they hire a volunteer, I don’t think it should be considered illegal.  That person is doing it for a chance to gain experience in an industry that they might have no hope of breaking into otherwise.  And besides, they are getting all kinds of perks like concert tickets and t-shirts!

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Is the Radio Performance Tax Reverse Payola?

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of payola is “Undercover or indirect payment (as to a disc jockey) for a commercial favor (as for promoting a particular recording).”

There are two bills in congress, H.R. 848 and S.379, that, if passed into law, would levy fees against radio stations for playing music. Wait… WHAT??? Isn’t that one of the things radio is supposed to do? Play music so that people will hear it and then go out and BUY it?

To listen to the record companies and the artists themselves, you would think that radio is stealing their product. Since the dawn of entertainment-based broadcasting, radio has been used as a means to help promote music and artists. You hear the song, like it, and purchase it. Payola was even used as a means to get radio stations to play songs more often because, say it with me… MORE AIRPLAY MEANS MORE SALES!!!

Now that the record companies are having trouble staying financially in the black, they are looking for new streams of revenue. Hey… let’s charge the people that are helping us a fee. Keep in mind, that radio stations ALREADY pay a licensing fee for the music.

Radio is already in enough trouble. The major groups are all starting to file for bankruptcy protection, literally thousands of employees are being laid off, and syndication is becoming more the rule than the exception. Let’s face it… from a financial standpoint, it’s cheaper to have Ryan Seacrest host 100 of your morning shows than to actually pay for 100 morning shows. I’m not saying radio is innocent in all of this. Consolidation has more or less killed the industry. But… that is a different issue. If these bills pass into legislation, even more people will lose their jobs, and the small radio operators will probably disappear altogether. You will see a good majority of stations switch to talk/news/sports formats. In a lot of cases, it will be cheaper to just shut the transmitters down and call it a day. College radio? forget it… it will completely cease to exist.

And of course, the artists themselves are up in arms over this. “How dare radio play my music without compensating me?” Ummm… let’s go back to paragraph #1. Airplay translates into sales. It’s promotion. You provide the content, radio turn that into sales. And NOT just sales of music. We’re talking ticket sales for concerts and merchandise… both multi-billion dollar industries. Bono has been one of the most outspoken performers in support of the tax. And he’s one of the richest people in the galaxy! Click Here to read what the NAB had to say in response to Bono. I certainly understand that Bono does a LOT of charity work. I appreciate that. But if it wasn’t for media airplay from early MTV and radio, U2 wouldn’t be around today and Bono would probably be a bartender in Dublin instead of owning half of the city! Why do you think artists like the Grateful Dead, Phish, and Dave Matthews ENCOURAGE people to record and trade their music? They know that they might lose some music sales, but they are gaining in merchandise and ticket sales. And The Dead have been around in one form or another for almost 50 years! Sounds like they know what they are doing!

The only music you would probably hear on the radio is that of the biggest artists in the world… the U2s, Rolling Stones, Britney Spears… If you were a new artist trying to get heard, it wouldn’t happen. Whatever happened to the thrill of a new artist hearing their song on the radio for the first time?

Yes… the musicians have a right to be paid for their material. I’m not disputing that. But it is the responsibility of the record companies to pay that. NOT the people trying to help them sell more records. If more artists were to examine their contracts BEFORE they signed them, or learned to negotiate better deals, then this wouldn’t be an issue.

And how would radio pay for these fees if passed? Well, other than laying off even more people, advertising. I think that most “casual” listeners of radio would agree that there are too many commercials as it is. I think that a good average would be 12 to 13 commercials per hour split into 3 commercial “stopsets.” If these laws pass, I have no doubt whatsoever that 20 minutes of commercials per hour would become common.

The record companies know they screwed up big-time when they didn’t jump on the digital bandwagon. And now they are trying to make up for lost time. Piracy is rampant and it’s because the music industry DIDN’T see digital music as a viable platform. For the record (no pun intended), my iPod currently has well over 28,000 songs on it, and it fits in my pocket. How many CDs would I need? The music industry needs to learn to embrace new platforms, not just decide to stick with the old ways of doing business. If they did this back in 1997, there would have been more safeguards against music piracy in place BEFORE it became a major issue.

So… back to the original question. Is this tax a form of revere payola? I think the answer is “yes.” even though payola is illegal, record companies embraced it for years as a way to get their artists more “PROMOTION” by getting records more spins on the air. Now they are asking, no… demanding that radio pay them for the right to promote their music.

I would encourage people to take a look at this website… www.noperformancetax.org to get more information.

Crazy Radio Stalker Story

We’ve all seen them… they come out to every remote your station does.  They call in constantly on the listener lines.  They show up unexpectedly at the radio station at all times of the day.  Yes, I’m talking about the crazy P1 stalk… er… listeners.

While I’ve never had one of my own stalkers, I have had the experience of sharing one with the rest of the airstaff.  We’ll call her “Linda” for the sake of argument and to protect the guilty.

I was working for a rock station, and “Linda” was a huge fan.  She was “39 year old heterosexual female, liked to smoke Marlboro cigarettes, and drink Budweiser Beer.”  How do I know this?  She put it in the letter that she sent to one of our morning show hosts.  I should also mention that the letter wasn’t written on stationery or even on a nice sheet of paper.  No… it was written on a series yellow post-it notes that also included a crudely drawn map for said morning host to find her house!  “Linda” also sent every single one of our jocks a letter that day.  Each one personalized, and written in a different form.  Aside from the post-it notes letters arrived written on paper, 3 x 5 cards, and even one written on an envelope.  Not all of us received maps to her house, though.

“Linda” also had the habit of showing up at remotes to just hang out.  The first time I met her, we were doing a remote at a Quiznos.  It was also the day of our annual listener halloween party.  She was the first person at the remote and proudly told me that she was coming to the party that night.  I had no idea at this point who she was or how I was inviting a world of crazy upon our doorstep.  I politely thanked her for listening and wound up giving her a t-shirt.  But she stuck around for the entire remote to help us “promote” the radio station, and by that, I mean scare people off!  And true to her word, she showed up at the Halloween party that night.  In fact, she was the first on line!  While we were still setting up!  At this point, she had integrated herself into our lives and thought she was one of us.

There was one particular day when I decided to go to one of my favorite delis for lunch.  I took one of the station vehicles (get the logo out as much as you can).  As I was leaving, I heard someone call my name.  I looked up and “Linda” was standing on the porch of the apartment over the deli.  I didn’t know until then that that was where she lived.  “I saw the van and thought you were coming to visit!”  Ummm…. no.  Now I can never go to one of my favorite delis ever again!

Coming soon, I will tell you about “Bob”… who is even crazier!

The Radio Promotions Director – An (abbreviated) Job Description

NOTE: I have started writing blogs about radio for a new site called Radio Twit. This article was written for that site, but I am posting it here on my personal blog, as well.  As I will do for any post I write.  please check it out.  We are just starting up and it is going to be a great resource for anyone either in radio or interested in radio.

I’ve spent the better part of my career in radio promotions. I’ve worked in small markets (Danbury, CT), large markets (Hartford, CT), and major markets (Boston, MA).  The one question that seems to be a constant throughout my career has been, “What exactly do you do?”

That’s actually not an easy question to answer. The thing that most people expect is that I’m the guy that just goes out and hangs banners and balloons. And yes, while that is a very small part of the job, there is so much more.
I guess the best way to start this discussion is that the Promotions Director is the person in the radio station that directly interacts with every single other department. From programming to sales, production, traffic, business, engineering, even reception. I also like to describe it as the person that the receptionist sends all the phone calls to when he/she has no idea where they are supposed to go.
Even though the jocks are the “faces” of the station, the promotion director is generally the mouth. When the jocks don’t want to answer an awkward question, it usually comes to the Promotions Director.
The Promotions Director generally works very closely with the General Manager and the Program Director to plot the marketing course for the station. Everything from how to brand the station, logo design, web presence, and so forth. You also have to work closely with the sales department to develop promotional programs for station clients. This is actually tricky because you have to make these programs fit in with the aforementioned branding and presence of the radio station. Here’s a simplistic example… You are a classic rock station, but your client wants you to give away tickets to, say, Britney Spears. How do you do this? Well, you don’t. This annoys not only the client, but the sales rep who already promised the client that we would do it. NOTE TO SALES… Please do NOT promise anything to a client until it has either passed through promotions or programming.
Most of the time, though, I’ve enjoyed putting together sales promotions. We usually have really cool prizes to give away, make much needed revenue for the station, and can look larger than life. While I was the Promotion Director in Danbury, I worked closely with a local travel agency who got us lots of trips to give away… cruises, Rio, a private concert with Jimmy Buffet in Anguilla. Plus we’ve given away backyard makeovers including new patios, grills, hot tubs, landscaping. Cars are always fun prizes to give away.
Sales promotions could also be very turn-key programs. The client places a buy and wants to give away tickets to their event. Simple enough. Divide the tickets up throughout the day. Usually with an emphasis on AM Drive and PM Drive. Have the jock take caller 9, include the :10 second tag and you’re done.
The problem with sales promotions is that in a lot of cases, the sales rep is focused on getting the sale and will promise the client things that are impossible to pull off, or are, quite frankly, not worth putting together based on the amount of the buy. Not true in all cases… I’ve certainly had my fair share of salespeople who “got it”. Who would sit down with me and discuss possibilities and what would work best for not only the client, but also the station. But it seems that at every station I’ve worked at, there was the one sales rep that made my life a living nightmare. Ironically, the one from my last station is someone I still keep in touch with and she will still come to me for ideas. Which I like. It helps keep my unemployed brain active.
Events: This is where a promotion director can really shine. I would say that about 80% of the events are pretty turn-key. Usually remote broadcasts where the station will show up at the client with the van, a tent, some prizes, and a jock who will do a series of 1:00 minute live spots imploring you to “Come down to XXXX Honda for Midnight Madness. The best deals of the year are here now!” But there are other events… festivals, consumer shows, seminars. I’ve loved working on each and every one of them.
Public Relations: Somebody has to get the word out to people outside of your listenership. My job consisted of writing press releases, being the station spokesperson, being interviewed, etc.
Community Relations: This warrants an entirely different blog post which will hopefully be coming soon.
Staff management: Weirdly enough, when I worked in a major market, I had an assistant. That’s it. And he split time between my station and the other AM station in the cluster. In the tiny market of Danbury, I had a full-time assistant, 8 per-diem part-timers, and at any given time 5 to 25 interns. Go figure. My job was to hire, in some cases fire, train, schedule (though I usually delegated that to the assistant), and try to keep everybody happy.
Vendor relations: I was responsible for seeking out and growing relationships with all kinds of vendors. People who made our t-shirts and premium items for giveaways, graphic designers, auto body shops (station vans get dinged), etc… Most of the time with little or no budget to work with. Advertising trade was my savior!
There is so much more to this job that I can ever put into one post. I’ll add more in the future. In the meantime, I’d love to hear what you have to say. Please feel free to leave a comment.

The BEST April Fool’s Day Prank

Being that it’s April Fool’s Day, I thought I would share what is probably the best prank that I was ever involved in.  It was either 1993 or 1994, and I was working as the Assistant Promotions Director and as a DJ at WKCI (KC 101) in New Haven Connecticut. Our morning show at the time was Glenn Beck (Yes… THAT Glenn Beck) and Pat Grey, weirdly enough, known as Glenn & Pat.

The prank went like this… A few days prior to April Fool’s Day, Glenn & Pat started talking on-air about how worried they were for their jobs.  Their contracts were set to expire at the end of March and nobody from management had approached them about renewing.  This set off a flurry of listener phone calls.

Here’s the thing… LOTS of radio stations and morning shows have pulled this exact same stunt, only to have the morning hosts show up as normal and shout “April Fools!”  We didn’t do that.  As a matter of fact, we went the extra step and actually brought back Chris Evans (known as Doctor Chris) to do the morning show that day.  Chris, was actually the morning host prior to Glenn & Pat and was fired to make room for them.  The phones went CRAZY!!!!

We had to set up a voice mail line to handle all of the calls to our General Manager.  After a while, people started thinking that this WAS an April Fools gag, and that Glenn & Pat would be back the next day.  We made the decision, and with Chris’s graciousness, to extend the “Dr. Chris” show one more day.  THAT did it.  People went nuts.  Threats were made, the local news picked it up… it was insane!

It wasn’t until April 3rd that Glenn & Pat went back on the air and spoke of it as an April Fool’s joke.

I wish I could say that I was the architect of this joke, but I wasn’t.  It was kept a secret from everyone in the building except for those who needed to know.  The only reason I knew about it prior was because I was on the air before the morning show, and I had to play dumb before the  “morning show” came on.

I think a lot has to be said for the teamwork that was involved in this being a successful stunt.  I also have to commend Chris Evans for agreeing to go along with it, since he was let go a couple of years prior.

Get Well, Don Imus!

Don ImusRadio legend Don Imus announced this morning that he is battling Stage 2 prostate cancer.  According to a bone scan, the cancer has not spread.  The 68 year old shock jock seems to have a good attitude about his diagnosis, “I’ll be fine. If I’m not fine, I won’t be fine. It’s not a big deal. The prognosis couldn’t be better.”

Mr. Imus believes that with the help of his doctors, he will beat it.

Prostate cancer is usually treated with surgery and/or radiation.  Approximately 200,000 men are diagnosed with this form of cancer every year.

Personally, I’m not a big fan of Don Imus, the radio host.  But as a humanitarian, his “Imus Ranch” in New Mexico has helped countless kids battling their own life-threatening diseases.  And, as a cancer survivor myself, I offer my support and prayers that he will beat this.

Job Hunting… Cancer… Economy… It’s All in Here in… My Story

First off, let me state that this post isn’t about trying to get people to feel sorry for me.  I’m not that type of person.  But there are a few things I would like to get off my chest.  Let’s just call it “venting.”

I’m in a lot of financial trouble.  Serious trouble.  I know… everybody else is, as well.  The economy is circling the drain and nobody knows when it will bounce back.  Although , I have faith that it will.  Corporations are laying off employees by the thousands and those thousands just become more people that I have to compete with in order to find a job.

I was let go from my position as the Marketing & Promotions Director for a cluster of of radio stations in Connecticut back in May of 2007.  It was a job that I absolutely loved, and was very good at.  I was never given a reason as to why, but that’s not important.  It’s a part of being in the radio industry.  After a week or two of wallowing in self-pity, I began to view it as an opportunity.  Perhaps a time to re-invent myself.  I re-did my resume, and laptop computer in hand, started to re-discover the old career web sites that I had not needed to look at for a number of years.  I began reaching out to contacts that I had built up over the course of time… friends, colleagues, clients.  I was getting some interviews.  Some went well, some didn’t,  In July, I decided to take a part-time job at Starbucks, not so much for the paycheck, but to have a place to go and be around people.  Plus, they offer a very good benefits package to part-timers.  Medical Insurance that I needed because…

In March of 2008, I was diagnosed with cancer for the 3rd time over the course of 10 years.  This was one month after the loss of my father, so yes… between the job loss, losing my dad, and the cancer (we’re not even going to touch on the romantic issues that I had to deal with in that time frame)… I had a pretty miserable year.

An aggressive approach to dealing with the cancer was called for.  For the first time, I didn’t have surgery.  We have been treating with chemotherapy and then a month of radiation treatments at the end of 2008.  So now, I was not only searching for a job, I was dealing with this hideous disease.  It affected my job search.  I was still getting some interviews, but I believe that my “condition” may have hurt my chances with some potential employers.  I didn’t “look like” a cancer patient, or what one might expect a cancer patient to look like.  I hadn’t lost my hair.  But I felt awful.  It not only affected the way that I approached job hunting, it affected how I handled myself in interviews.  I am a very open and honest person, and felt an obligation to tell my potential employers about my condition.  Stupid, yes.  But at the time, I felt that people deserved to know what they were getting involved in with me.  In truth, I wasn’t applying for jobs that I couldn’t handle.  I wasn’t sending resumes for jobs that had the title “VP of Anything”.  I had chemo treatment once every two weeks.  The side affects I would be able to work through.  They weren’t all that bad.

It is illegal to not hire somebody based on their medical conditions.  But let’s face it… employers can find a million other reasons to not hire you.

So, I realized that I needed to really concentrate on getting myself better.  Not that I stopped the job search, but sort of re-prioritized it.  Of course, once I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel as far as my health, the economy fell apart. Thousands were out of work.  As of now, the unemployment rate is at a 25 year high.  Believe me, I sympathize with each and every one.  The problem is… my creditors don’t want to hear that I have no money.   Which brings me to…

My take on the economy.  I don’t pretend to know anything about the economy.  I’m not very good at politics.  But what I do know is that I never had a problem with huge mega-bonuses that CEOs get, or millions in severance packages.  Hell, I was even all for pro-athletes getting completely ridiculous contracts.  My feeling was that if somebody had the money and was willing to shell it out so that a football player could play in 16 games a year, then great!  Now, however, when I see that the former boss at Merrill Lynch took a 50 or 60 million dollar bonus and left the company after only 3 months of work… and after his company was bailed out by the federal government… well, I have serious issues with that.  There was, one story a few weeks ago, and I wish I had paid more attention to it, where a CEO took his $60,000,000 bonus and split it up between his employees.  He even gave former employees a cut.  WE NEED MORE PEOPLE IN THIS SOCIETY LIKE THIS!!!!

And now, the bailout plan that’s in the works is primarily for home-owners that can’t pay their mortgage.  That’s fine.  But what about those of us that don’t own homes.  I rent.  And I’m about a month and a half away from being evicted.  What’s the stimulus plan to help me and the others like me?  Sure… there are agencies that offer things like rental assistance.  Yes, I applied.  Their question to me was “Do you have enough money to pay your rent?”  When I told them no, they responded that they couldn’t help me because I couldn’t pay my rent.  WHAT??? If I had enough money to pay my rent, then I wouldn’t need rental assistance.  This is a true story.  So, when I eventually do find a job, I will go back to them and see of they can help me pay my back rent.  That is if I’m not living in my car by then (at least that’s paid for).

So what about social services like welfare and food stamps?  Oh, I tried that, too.  Apparently I’m not eligible for welfare because I don’t have a child and I am not disabled.  You may ask, “But what about the cancer, Eric?”  What I am going through is not disabling in any way, shape, or form.  I am able to work at 100% capacity.  So, no, I don’t qualify under that.

As for food stamps… Apparently I make too much money at my part-time job to qualify.  I guess they really expect people to be able to live on the $150 a week I might take home after taxes are taken out.  Never mind that there’s rent, bills, utilities, and gas for the car to pay for.  Believe me, I understand that there are people who abuse the system, and they should summarily be destined to spend a number of years as guests of our friendly department of corrections.  It’s those people that make it more difficult for honest people to get the help they need.

I have had the very good fortune to have many friends and family to lean on.  I’ve even had  family members (who shall remain anonymous) send me checks of fairly large sums (large to me) to help me thorough on a couple of  occasions.  I am normally not normally the type of person to take this kind of help.  But I had to, and I know that they would have been insulted if I didn’t.  I’m normally the person on the other end… the person that tries to help others in need.  It’s actually one of the reasons I’ve liked my career path so much.  Being in radio gave me the opportunity to help countless non-profits and charities to promote awareness and fundraisers.  I even spent 2 years working for the Muscular Dystrophy Association as a fundraiser.  There are not a lot of jobs where you can make a living helping kids.  And I would go back to Non-Profit in a heartbeat.  I would go back to MDA, and I would LOVE to work for the American Cancer Society.  I have applied 7 or 8 times, and interviewed on two different occasions, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why I’m having such a hard time breaking in there.  I have 2 years of very successful find-raising experience, through my radio jobs did a great job of helping them to promote their events, I’m the publicity chairperson for one of our local Relay For Life events, and I have the personal experience… 3 times!

And I miss my job at the aforementioned cluster of radio stations in Connecticut.  I didn’t for a while.  I admit that I was very bitter about how the whole thing played out.  But I’m beyond that, and if the opportunity would ever arise, I would also go back there in a second, although many of the people that I worked with are gone.  Many of my colleagues, whom I consider friends, are still there and the listeners and fans of the stations were out of this world!

But I also look forward to whatever challenges lay ahead.  I have renewed vigor in the job search arena, and even though I am still in treatment, my cancer is in the past.  I would love to find a job that allows me to use my skills that I have, but challenge me in new and exiting ways.  It certainly doesn’t have to be in radio or non-profit, but something that allows me to use my creative side along with some decent business sense.

I know that I am not unique in that many people have health, career, and financial issues.  I just thought  I would share my thoughts and hope that others will share theirs.  Believe it or not… it’s GREAT therapy!

I know that I touched on many topics in this post… Normally, I would probably have split them into different blog entries.  But I feel that they are all connected.

Thank you for taking the time to read.

K-Rock to Flip to 92.3 Now FM

923_now_nyc

So the rumors that have been flying for the past few days are true.  CBS Radio will be flipping the rock format of K-Rock (WXRK) in New York City to CHR and re-brand the radio station as 92.3 Now FM.  The change will happen this coming Wednesday at 5pm.  What’s sort of unique about this flip is that nowadays, when formats flip, nobody really knows for sure until it actually happens.  CBS is actually giving us a full two-days notice.  I remember when I worked at CBS in Hartford, I didn’t even know that one of our own stations flipped until the General Manager popped her head into my office and said, “Oh… by the way…”

In addition to being an over-the-air radio station, 92.3 Now FM will also be a “digital and mobile destination where audience members and fans alike can stay socially connected through a variety of applications, interactive features and networking opportunities.” according to the official press release.

Core artists will include Kanye West, Beyoncé, Pink, Flo-Rida, Akon, Katy Perry and Justin Timberlake. The station will be programmed by CBS Radio’s VP of Contemporary Hit Radio Programming, Dom Theodore.  At least for now.

Opie & Anthony are already out as the station’s morning show.  No word yet on the rest of the airstaff.

The station’s web site is http://www.923now.com.