Newsman gets fired, then wins awards!?

05 May


Jim Bohannon, left, a nationally syndicated radio talk show host and a panelist and the keynote speaker at the 2009 Iowa Broadcast News Association convention in Ames, chats with Phil.

Jim Bohannon, left, a nationally syndicated radio talk show host and a panelist and the keynote speaker at the 2009 Iowa Broadcast News Association convention in Ames, chats with Phil, whose wife suggests he become a Wal-Mart greeter.

It’s always struck me as strange or ironic or laughable when someone wins some sort of recognition or praise for his or her work, then promptly gets fired for some reason or another.

With a bit of a twist to it, that’s what recently happened to me. Clear Channel fired me Tuesday as one of the three news reporters/anchors remaining at WOC-AM, one of their six-station cluster in the Quad-Cities. Then, oddly enough, I won awards for my work Friday at the AP Broadcasters Association convention and Saturday at the Iowa Broadcast News Association (IBNA) convention, both held in Ames, Iowa. Go figure.

To be honest, my firing was about Clear Channel’s finances — not about performance. I was told that several times as I was ushered out the door.

Of the 590 people fired nationwide April 28, eight lost their jobs in our shop. That included two news part-timers who only worked on an on-call basis to fill in for full-timers during illnesses, vacations and the like.

(Seven Clear Channel folks in the Quad-Cities were among the 1,850 the company fired nationwide Jan. 20, the first of the two firing days that some are now calling Black Tuesdays.)

The awards I received last weekend for my work in 2008 at news/talker WOC-AM were in the large market radio stations category. I got:

* Second place for Best Newscast, AP.
* Second place for Public Affairs Program, IBNA.
* First place for Excellence in Writing, IBNA.

There usually isn’t any applause when the awards are announced at the IBNA awards banquet. But I got some Saturday from my IBNA buddies who knew I’d been terminated and might be picking up my last-ever plaque ever. That clapping was a much-appreciated parting gift from them.

I also left the IBNA Board of Directors Saturday night after roughly five years of service. Saturday marked the conclusion of my year-long stint as immediate past president. My friend, Jim Mertens of WQAD-TV, now assumes that position on the board.

With the sorry state of big corporation-owned radio stations and the radio news business these, I’ll probably have to choose another occupation for my remaining working years. (My wife says tongue in cheek I should become a Wal-Mart greeter.) And, in the future, I can’t remain a regular member of IBNA unless I am a working broadcast journalist. But I can join as an associate member.

Perhaps I’ll do that and attend next year’s convention.

So call it strange or ironic or laughable — or all of the above — because it was. I was fired Tuesday, then won some coveted recognition from my peers on Friday and Saturday. I’ll add one more word for the weekend to strange or ironic or laughable. It’s bittersweet.

Copyright 2009 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises.

1 Comment

Posted by on May 5, 2009 in Uncategorized


One response to “Newsman gets fired, then wins awards!?

  1. Dan-O

    May 15, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    When I got riffed by the State of Iowa in 1986, my last check had a raise on it.


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