Sick Radio

Firing people when they are sick is sick.

The radio industry is sick these days.

Wonder if there is any connection?

I admit I'm not naive about corporate management and I acknowledge that big companies often have no heart. I worked for one of them and I have been an agent of pain.

When I worked for General Cinema, the movie chain that ran some radio stations in major markets, I was forced to tell a widow of one of my young jocks who died of cancer that the company had no death benefits to pay her.

She said, ”I don’t even have money to bury Andy”. I was unconvincing as a radio grim reaper and she lit into me – rightfully so. I was only PD of the station for a few months when I found myself in this position and I was very young. I was also lucky to have the chance to be a program director in the fourth largest market at my age.

Yet all these years I have wished that I had stood up to the pompous asses that were making the decisions and fought for some money to bury Andy.

This is one of the reasons I got into so much trouble with the consolidators when I owned Inside Radio. I reported these kinds of stories.

Most of them seemed to come from Clear Channel, the corporation the press dubbed The Evil Empire. Of course, it wasn’t limited to Clear Channel. Clear Channel was bad enough, in my opinion, in handling its great resources – their employees, but the other radio companies were not much better.

Clear Channel just owned more stations.

During the post-consolidation days I reported on a cancer patient fired when he needed his job most. I also wrote about sick employees who were shown the door when they had health problems. God knows plenty of healthy employees were mistreated on the way out the door.

And, it still goes on although, arguably, not as drastic as it was in the early days of consolidation.

Vince Toscano, operations manager of Clear Channel’s WSUS-FM, Franklin, NJ is being treated for a rare form of cancer when his employer put him on “protected leave”.

That’s no salary but a job waiting when he returns.

Of course, when one has cancer he or she needs money to not only pay the bills but the hospital bills as well. Disability can only take you so far.

I know Vince’s boss and he, along with others, have raised some $10,000 in his name. That's the right thing to do. It's more than we did for Andy.

Vince Roscano is appreciative as he wrote on his web site:

“And now, please let me dispell (sic) some rumors regarding my future on WSUS. Because of how involved this (sic) infection is, I have to go back on disability. I am not sure how long that will take, but we all need to be certain that I am 100% before returning to work - which I can do whenever I am ready. So no, I have not been fired or terminated. But I do want to thank Clear Channel for making it all happen and for all my listeners, co-workers and friends for showing your support. THANK YOU!”

Remarkably, this loyal employee is happy to have a job even if he isn’t being paid while he is fighting cancer.

My dear friend Joe Benson was fired from his job over a year ago after he had a massive heart attack and eventually a six way bypass. His listeners raised in excess of $10,000 for him. His radio job? Poof!

Radio’s willingness to be The Grim Reaper is a black mark on all of us who are involved with radio. It is unnecessary and unproductive.

When you fire a person who is ill, you fire the entire staff. You say to them, this can happen to you, too.

When you devalue a talented employee who is sent packing for whatever reason, you broadcast to others that they, too, may not be valued.

But when you show compassion, you’re also telling your entire staff that you care and value them as well.

I’m not preaching. God knows, I’d like to have some of my mistakes back.

I’m asking.

At a time when radio is starting to decline in listeners and ad revenue, shouldn’t you invest in the assets that got you there?

The radio industry's unwillingness to take care of its own is its cancer.

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