When I was a kid, working in radio seemed like such a cool job. Every station had to be like WKRP in Cincinnati, right?
That delusion was first dispelled when I won a prize from the old WIQB (Rock 103!) in Ann Arbor and drove to the station to pick it up. Rather than a respectable office with the magic happening behind the glass, WIQB was basically a shack out in Saline.
As I grew older and got to know people in the radio business, I learned how brutal it could be. Many of them had been ruthlessly fired. (My podcast co-host was one of them.) Plenty of people in other lines of work have been let go because of salary cuts or job duties changing. But radio was supposed to be the cool job.
I was reminded again of how cruel working in radio could be earlier this week when a host I’ve worked with for years was fired. Here in Asheville, Bill McClement was a co-host on the sports talk show I’ve contributed to for nearly five years. I’ve talked to him two to three times a week throughout that time. I’ve sat in with him as a co-host a handful of times and always had great fun doing so.
Working at home, I’m not always the most social guy, so there have probably been many weeks when Bill was one of the few people with whom I had a conversation — even if it was about baseball for a segment on a sports talk radio show.
No, I don’t know all the details and probably never will. It’s not my business. But watching someone lose his job after 15 years with a company (and 40-plus years in the industry) is heartbreaking. It sure seems like he deserved better.
I’m grateful for the opportunities Bill provided for me. He was the one who responded to the email I wrote shortly after moving to Asheville, asking the local radio station if they needed anyone to talk baseball. They had a regular contributor at the time, but Bill said they’d keep me in mind if they ever needed someone to fill in and I substituted several times before becoming a regular myself in 2014. When they needed someone to fill in as co-host, Bill often called to see if I could do it. I wish I could have done so more often.
I hope he lands somewhere and gets to finish his career in radio the way he wanted, rather than having it finished for him. And I need to try and express my sympathies — and gratitude — in person with Bill sometime in the near future.
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