THIS IS FROM PHYLLIS STARK'S "STARK COUNTRY"
After totally bumming everybody out with the first two installments in our series on the tough radio job market, we’re taking a break from the sad stories today to bring you four broadcasters who bucked the prevailing trend and were able to find great new radio gigs fairly quickly after being laid off from their last ones.
After exiting KAJA San Antonio, George King was only on the beach for two and a half months before landing a gig as station/operation manager for Citadel’s country WCTO and AC WLEV Allentown, Pa.
Asked why he was able to find a job so quickly, King says his keys to success were “keeping a positive attitude and perseverance. Keep your name out there, make sure you are accessible and keep an open mind to any and all opportunities. I would also suggest to anyone ‘on the beach,’ try to enjoy the time off and take advantage of it, if at all possible.”
John Paul was between jobs for four months after leaving the PD post at KUPL Portland, Ore., when it was sold, eventually landing a great gig with Dial Global, where he is now senior director of country programming.
In that four months, he says, “I took about three weeks to unwind. (The 18-24 months before I was let go were really tough with all the downsizing, cutbacks, layoffs and knowing we were for sale. The job got to be not very fun and extremely stressful.) I got lucky and Jaye Albright at Albright & O’Malley hired me to work part time and help them with special projects. I was able to stay connected to the business and people I love while looking for a full time job. Had I known how great the four months I was out of work were going to be, I wouldn’t have worried once about losing my job. I got to work for Jaye and be a stay at home dad. I didn’t expect it to be such a relief to be out of the rat race.”
Paul credits networking as the primary factor that helped him land a new job. “I treated looking for work like a full time job and talked to everyone,” he says. “Also, because of the part time consulting work I was doing for Jaye Albright, I was able to keep a level head and not panic. I actually was able to really enjoy my time off and make smart decisions.”
Former WMZQ Washington, D.C., APD/MD/air personality Jeffrey T. Mason spent four and a half months job searching after leaving that station, eventually landing dual gigs in January as afternoon driver at country KMLE Phoenix and midday jock at sister oldies station KOOL.
Asked about his strategy, Mason says, “It’s the age old saying: Never burn bridges. I’ve been lucky to stay in touch with many of my former PDs and co-workers. One of those was Kris Abrams, PD here at KOOL. We’ve always respected each other’s work and philosophies on radio. When things started to open up at KMLE/KOOL, he reached out to gauge my interest. After talking about it for a couple months, we decided it would be a good fit for everyone, so here I am.”
But Mason is well aware that his relatively short job search puts him in the lucky column. “Believe me, I KNOW this is a rarity, and I am grateful!”
Mike O’Brian ultimately decided not to pursue a new gig at all after leaving the PD post at Clear Channel’s KUSS San Diego. Instead, he went into business for himself using skills he’d honed during his time working inside stations.
“I have never wanted to leave San Diego,” he says, “so when I was let go back in April I built a studio in my house and started doing voiceovers full-time. I now have agents in LA, Chicago, N.Y. and London and my business has really taken off. Some of my clients over the past six months include Cadillac, Animal Planet and Microsoft, and I just did a session for the Discovery Network. The only way I would even contemplate getting back into radio would be if I could just do a morning show and then have the rest of the day to do voiceovers. Never say never, but I can’t imagine ever programming again and, honestly, I don’t miss it.
“Life is good. No complaints,” O’Brian adds. “I feel incredibly blessed to be able to do something I love from the comfort of my own home. I’m doing things I never would’ve had the chance to do had I not been let go.”