Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Post 2502 - Radio News

I found out about a big staff meeting at the Rogers stations scheduled for 12:30pm today, about 20 minutes beforehand.  I guess I will use the phrase "a well-placed source" told me. I will not identify the person beyond that. These staff meetings announced suddenly, with little warning, never bode good news.

I was right, alas.  There was a bloodbath at the Rogers radio stations in Halifax today.  This was part of a lot of layoffs across the country.  94 people were let go across the country, with 11 of them in Halifax.

Gone are Erica Munn and Jordi Morgan.  His program, Maritime Morning, is effectively cancelled, as Rick Howe's show moves to mornings effective Wednesday morning.  The weekend talk show is toast as well, to be replaced by repeats of, most likely, Rick Howe's program. Also gone are at least one producer, and one reporter.  And a sales person.  You don't fire sales people. That is like firing one of the guys who stoke the furnace on a ship.

On the Lite 92.9 side, Jamie Paterson, part of the original staff of the station since July of 2009, has been let go.  His wife Lisa remains at the station.  Awkward much?

Over the years, many people have asked me why I never considered radio as a profession. The answers are many, but the one that leaps to mind now is obvious from today's news. It doesn't matter one whit whether you are talented, whether you pull in good ratings, whatever; if the time comes for you to be let go, you will be let go. I like being in an industry like mine, where if you keep up-to-date on the latest and greatest changes, and are liked and don't piss off the wrong people, then you have a pretty good chance of continued employment. I would not want to be in an industry where you are here today, and gone later today. For one thing, how do you plan your life?

From all reports, Jordi Morgan was pulling in very good ratings. I found his show to be compelling, even when he had a topic on of no interest to me whatsoever. That is a hard thing to pull off.  For Rogers to walk away from that is bizarre to say the least. It seems so short-sighted to let him go, when the cost of doing the show could not have been that high. It was just he and his producer putting on 3.5 hours of material day in and day out. There are lots of people who don't read the paper, or who don't watch the evening news. Many of those folks will tune into News 95.7 Wednesday morning expecting to hear Jordi Morgan's show and find out the hard way that it is gone and won't be coming back. They will be pissed, and I won't blame them a bit.

As I mentioned, if you're gonna be gone, you're gonna be gone. No radio format is so sacrosanct that it can escape changes and cutbacks. The time was when all local radio stations had to provide a certain percentage of spoken word every day. That requirement disappeared some 20 years ago. In short order, if you were a radio news reporter, the reporter standing to your left and the one on the right, were let go. And you were updating your resume and not planning any major purchases.

I had a feeling last year when Rogers applied to reduce its local content that it would presage, or at least allow, for what happened today, to happen. I am disgusted and disappointed to report that I was right. I hate being right in situations like these. And I have to wonder what fresh treats they have in store for the station should the company need to let more people go in six months or so.

I wish my very best to those folks who were let go today. I know and hope and trust that they will rise above today's setbacks and flourish in the medium that they love, even if it is not in Halifax.

See you tomorrow.


PS: Gee, I didn't even have a chance to write about Art Bell's satellite radio show stopping suddenly, a mere six weeks after it began.

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