Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Life After News92FM: One Year Later

Fifty-two Wednesday's ago I became unemployed, launching what would be the most interesting year of my life.
A few of my former co-workers have this week been describing their paths since that day.
This is my story.

The darkened and silenced newsroom of News92FM 10/8/14
I was one of the 47 journalists unceremoniously “separated” by RadioOne when they dumped our all-news format in favor of an all-Beyonce stunt to herald the installation of the company’s “Classic Hip-Hop” style of radio at 92.1FM.
I’d been fired many times before, and was confident I could find a new role at another outlet in a reasonable length of time.
Ha. It’s been a year.

The Program Director at KSBJ called me for coffee a month after the closure of News92.
KSBJ is a contemporary Christian music Radio station operated by the KSBJ Educational Foundation. It’s a non-profit station, and recently received “Station of the Year” honors from the Christian Music Broadcasters

KSBJ is a powerhouse of programming, street presence, and positive influence in the communities it serves. If more commercial stations were operated like KSBJ, fewer Radio people would be out of work.
Just sayin…
I was honored and blessed by the meeting, and soon after became an “occasional announcer” on KSBJ.

The Publisher of Houston Woman Magazine called me a week or so later to have lunch. She wanted a column for the women’s magazine written from a male perspective, sharing what men wish women knew. My “Man Cave Markings” pieces have explored the dynamic between the way women and men think, why women are better engineers than men, how buying back-to-school supplies has changed, and observations about one of my other “occasional” jobs--as postal worker.

A colleague called the following month, suggesting I look at an opportunity to work as an aerial videographer for a local television station. 

I love to fly in small aircraft. Flying in helicopters is nirvana for me, and the job is perfectly suited for my technical abilities, nose for news, and sense of adventure. 

I have trained in three aircraft on three different camera systems. I've covered building fires, traffic fatalities, cop chases, and grass fires. There is never a dull moment, and I've grabbed some memorable images of my hometown from 1,000-ft. in the air.
Yes, I'm still on call.

Next, the News Director at Houston Public Media emailed me a few weeks later about a part time position anchoring elements of the station’s NPR programming on the weekend.  With the demise of News92FM, HPM became the only all-news Radio outlet in Houston.
In addition to being the local ringleader for shows like “Weekend Edition,” Wait-Wait, Don’t Tell Me,” and “Car Talk,” I have also been pressed into service as a back up traffic reporter for the weekday-morning and afternoon shifts, and as an occasional weekday anchor.
But still no full-time employment.

The University of Houston Downtown reached out with an invitation to teach in its MBA program as a Corporate Fellow. I was paired with a professor to team-teach a section in the Spring semester, “Business Communication.” 

Being bitten by the teaching bug, I applied to the University and have been accepted as a returning student to complete my degree.
That’s going to be another story for another post.

For a year tainted by no full time gig, it was a pretty full.
I continue to co-host the Automotive Reporter Radio Show with the inimitable Harold Gunn, which airs Sunday mornings at 8 on ESPN 97.5FM.
I was inducted into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame.
Our adult children surprised us by sending us on a cruise (a much-needed break from the jarring reality of joblessness).
My wife was hospitalized for back surgery, and we spent Christmas Day in her hospital room.

Friends and family came to our aid and supported us.
One Sunday morning, a woman at church pressed an envelope into my hands and said, “I can’t tell you who this is from.” Inside were fifty, crisp $100-bills. Another church member wrote me a check for a large amount, and said, “this is not a loan. This is a gift.” Many, many similar outpourings of kindness continue to be shown to us. The LORD does provide.

I learned that COBRA is a blessing and a curse, reporting weekly job search activities to the Texas Workforce Commission is not worth the time and trouble it takes, and there IS an unspoken bias against the Silver Generation in the job search market:
No one wants to pay you for your experience, because it’s cheaper to hire a 20-something and train them to do the job you could already do in your sleep.

I’m the One in the government’s weekly Jobless numbers that’s not in that report: I’m no longer on Unemployment because it’s run out. I am technically under-employed, not unemployed. But I am imminently available for the taking, if you’re looking for someone who can read, write, video (not afraid of heights), photograph, teach, train…and tell others about how it’s done.
And I’m really, really over Beyonce.


Carol Gaines said...

I love ATB (All Things Brent).
NC mountain fan.

Beverly Denver said...

Love having you be a part of Houston Woman Magazine now.