There are many signs that the U.S. economy is still faltering. I learned that up close and personal in April when I lost my full-time job as a news anchor and reporter at WOC Radio.
“It’s not about performance, it’s about money,” is the way the general manager put it.
According to industry sources, the station’s owner, Clear Channel, is in a shaky financial position that was compounded by the economic downturn.
I was one of nearly 2,500 Clear Channel employees who have been released since January.
Many large media companies, both electronic and print, are having a rough go of it right now. Some analysts say not all of them will survive.
There aren’t many benefits to being released from a job you love, but I did find one. I’m now part of a select group of people, former employees of WOC Radio and WOC-TV (now KWQC), who get together once a month.
These folks, most of whom are retirees, have some great stories to tell about their years in broadcasting, a topic I’ve been interested in since I was a kid listening first to a crystal radio then a transistor radio.
A further sign that the economy is still hurting is the Spoon River Valley Scenic Drive, something we’ve enjoyed since the 1980s. It’s a wonderful event, held the first two full weekends each October in Fulton County, Ill.
There are a dozen and a half stops, mainly communities on the drive, each with something to offer visitors. There are arts and crafts fairs, flea markets, demonstrations, music and a variety of food.
But we noticed last year that there were fewer vendors and visitors in some locations, particularly the smaller communities. That was even more pronounced this year.
A friend reminds me about a DeWitt company that makes air fresheners. That comes after my complaints about an air freshener we bought that — surprise — was manufactured in China.
I checked its source because of the way the directions are written: “1) Rise up to the top, to open. 2) Upward the top, to adjust for desired amount of freshening.” Huh?
The local air freshener company my buddy mentioned, Car Freshner Corp., is headquartered in Watertown, N.Y., and has a plant in the DeWitt’s thriving industrial park. Nearly 100 employees there make scented air fresheners shaped like Christmas trees for cars.
According to their Web site, http://www.little-trees.com, the product comes in 6,500 languages and goes to 195 countries. And I’m betting the instructions with those little trees even make sense.
Copyright 2009 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises. This column appeared in The North Scott Press, Eldridge, Iowa.