Some reflection on the Bay area buyout/layoff story. It is a shocker – and I feel for everyone involved. Can’t be easy to be the guy making the announcement…or one of those receiving the news. But it begins to come back to me…once upon a time local TV news was gushing money and everyone was grabbing their share…this was in the seventies and eighties. Advertisers were throwing money at the stations and life was wonderful. But somewhere in the nineties it all ground to a stop. Belts were tightened…trips cancelled…expenses reined in.
I got laid off – twice in less than five years. The first time I was on staff at KQED/Channel 9 – the PBS west coast flagship station. We depended on federal funding…and the honchos looked two years down the road – federal funding was for two year periods. One dark day in September 1980 (I had to be out town at the time) the announcement came in – the news show was being cancelled. We had two weeks notice and “A Closer Look” was no more.
The second time I was on staff at KTXL in Sacramento. Budget cuts and two folks had to go. I was the last hired photog and reporter Pat McConnahay (now at KVIE in Sacramento) were called into the office and given our walking papers.
Gut wrenching. Sucker punched. The first time I was in good company…my very first baby shower was attended by a ton of folks looking at unemployment checks (by the way…including a young intern named Bill Whittaker). The second time I actually cried. I loved news and felt as if I’d been abandoned. But it wasn’t personal…got a call about a year later. They wanted me back and had the money to prove it.
So the good times come and go. Losing a job is an experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone. There are lessons to be learned…if you are good, you move on. If your rep is good, you get a job. You hunker down and look and network and eventually something turns up. The time to look is now – before the ax falls. As a result, I always have a ready resume and tape…and either can be online or in the mail before the ink dries on any pink slip headed my way.