by Dennis Daniel
In the September issue of RAP I did a piece about how to conduct yourself if a corporate takeover takes place at your station. I received many interesting letters and e-mail from Production Directors all over the world who are going through this scary process. The following quote from one of those letters pretty much sums it all up:
In response to your article, I don't know if I could have said it better myself. We are in the middle of a corporate takeover as I am typing...and as far as the workload increasing without compensation...that goes without saying. And your advice about not "complaining or bitching" is absolutely correct. I know first hand...being perceived as "negative" will definitely get you nowhere except on the unemployment line. I wish I could have read your article two years ago...I might be somewhere else today. However, I did get a good job, and I know that I will not be let go after this takeover is complete. But, it's always good to keep very quiet when looking for a new gig. There's nothing like the look on the GM's face when you bust into his office and say, "Thanks for everything, but I'm outta here!"
Big Point: never let them know you're looking! One of the hardest things for any human being to do is keep their mouth shut when disgruntled. It's so easy to "spill" to your coworkers and supposed "friends" that things suck at work and you are looking elsewhere. I know of which I speak because when I was a twenty-two year old idiot, I buried myself with my own mouth!
I was working at an AOR station in Poughkeepsie, New York called WPDH. Since I had gone to school at the neighboring SUNY New Paltz, I was thrilled to be living and working in upstate Dutchess County. This is a beautiful place to live, folks--rolling hills, farm lands, lots of cows, clean air, friendly country folk. It was a real nice gig. I was playing morning sidekick to PD Pete Clark (a real sweet guy), and I had my own shift on Saturday mornings. When I finished my shift, I'd do production for a few hours. I lived in a beautiful apartment on the only cobblestone road in the city. There was this amazing small gothic style church across the street. The pace was slow and easy. There was only one problem...the station was getting complaints about my bits. I was doing all kinds of crazy skits with a very New York City type approach that, I guess, was too hard for these country bumpkins (and I use that term with affection). Check out this letter I saved September 20, 1982:
Dear Sir or Madam: We are loyal listeners of WPDH, especially in the morning on our way to work. Our ears and our intelligence are highly offended by the addition to your morning staff of Dennis Daniels. His banter is asinine, repulsive, and just plain stupid. We hear his voice, the station is immediately changed or a cassette popped in. If you want to get back some of your fans, we strongly suggest doing away with Mr. Daniels. Several people in our office agree and are anxiously awaiting his demise. As far as we are concerned, there is no other radio station worth listening to in the Poughkeepsie area, and we miss the old morning format. While we are not adverse to change, however, your Mr. Daniels is a sure turn-off. Thank You. Sincerely Yours. P.S. We are by far not the only listeners who feel this way.
Two people with lots of f-ing time on their hands! (I decided to withhold their names--don't want them coming after me!)
Yikes! "Asinine, repulsive and just plain stupid!" "We strongly suggest doing away with Mr. Daniels!" "Awaiting his demise!" (Where are these people from, the Poughkeepsie Mafia!) Country bumpkins my ass! These folks are assassins!
At the time this letter arrived, I heard about an opening for overnights at WBAB back home on Long Island. As much as I loved living upstate, I did miss my girlfriend (who later became my wife), my friends, my family. Besides, if I wasn't welcomed with open arms by two backwoods letter writing listeners, why should I stay?
I started submitting tapes to WBAB. I figured, "Hey, I used to work there part-time! They loved me! They were sorry to see me go! An overnight shift? How could I be turned down for that? I was doing a morning show! I hit the big time!"
Wrong. Wrong and wrong!
You see, I was so sure I'd get this gig, I started to flap my mouth about it to supposed "friends." Well, it turns out one of these "friends" was a real Judas type. He always came on to you smiling and buddy-buddy, but...he also had worked at that station many years, was a local celebrity, and probably didn't like me from the get-go. The beans were spilled hard and heavy to the powers that be. Next thing I knew, I was sitting in the GM's office with massive gobs of egg on my face as he kindly told me in a slow, steady voice, "Dennis, since you're obviously not happy here, we've decided to let you go. Good luck at WBAB." Just one problem...I didn't get the WBAB gig! It seems I was OVERQUALIFIED! Why would I give up a morning gig in a nice market to do overnights? Besides, my on air delivery was too "slow!" It got that way because for nine months I was living in molasses country, so my air checks were not "fast, hip New York" but "slow, mellow Upstate." A mere two years into my radio career and I lost everything, my job, my pride, and my beautiful apartment on the only cobblestone street in Poughkeepsie with the small gothic church across the street!
That old cliche "loose lips sink ships" rings true every time. This was back in 1982! Just imagine what it must be like now in Takeover Land! Do yourself a big favor and keep quiet. Just do your work and send out your demo tapes from home. Good luck.