Jim Walsh's Big Hairy Weblog Thingy

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Scary Radio Story

Note: the following story reflects my perspective on true events. Individual and corporate names are witheld to protect the innocent - namely, me.

Hope you and yours had a nice "boid" this week.

I just had a veeeeerry interesting experience with a certain broadcast chain in the Midwest. Suffice to say I've never been so happy about not taking a job.

(In the interest of fairness, I will tell you that the broadcast chain in question has some very vocal supporters, both inside and outside the company. What follows may very well reflect a minority opinion; it's all true nonetheless.)

It started a few weeks ago when I responded to an ad in All Access for a Program Director/Morning Host position at a news/talk station in the Midwest. A week ago Monday I got a call from a consultant who said he wanted to set me up with the company. So far, so good.

That's when things started to get...weird...

The consultant and the guy from the company (whose title I never really could get) were all talk. Talk about how the company is so highly regarded, talk about the new station and the high expectations, talk about how happy everybody was who worked there. Talk, talk, talk...

Then I started asking questions...

I asked if they would fly me in. No, they said, though if I were to fly in on my own, they would reimburse me...if I took the job. What, I asked, were the specific duties of the position? "Well, you'll have to talk to the market manager about that." (The market manager? If he's the decision-maker here, why haven't I been talking to him from day one?)

All the time they were pressing me to commit to the job over the phone, asking me why I was so "hesitant" about things...

I asked via email for a letter of intent spelling out the specific duties along with all the basics: salary, health plan, etc. Turned out this "manager" didn't have the answers: "we'll have to check on that," "you can run it by the market manager," (him again) and "why are you sooooo hesitant about this?"

Finally, I sent back my own "letter of intent," describing for myself what I think my duties should be, along with specifics about my compensation. "Run that by your market manager and let me know," I said.

A day later I get a note from the consultant that I'm out of the running; the company manager guy told the consultant (in an emailing forwarded to me) in these exact words:

"Take this guy off the table. His needs are not our concern."

This comes from what the aforementioned consultant described to me as a “straight-shooting, people-first organization.”

Now I like to think I'm a pretty reasonable guy. It's also true that right now I’m not exactly coming from the greatest bargaining position in the world. Still, I didn't ask for anything I didn't consider reasonable (and haven't gotten without any problem from other companies in even smaller markets in the past).

So let's take stock: they want me to drop everything and drive nine hundred miles to take the job sight unseen - dealing with all that nasty "fine print" later. When I insisted they conduct themselves like businessmen, they got downright hostile.

I'm thinking I really dodged a bullet here...

One postscript to the deal: the consultant who set it up sent me one final, snippy e-note. You know the type: you'll regret not joining this great company, someday you'll learn how to deal with people, the usual silliness. Condescending as hell (nothing threatening though, except in a "you're going nowhere in this business" kind of way). My favorite line was this one (obviously intended to cut me to the quick):

"You may find it interesting that a key guy at one of Tulsa's flagship stations is keenly interested in this job."

Tulsa, huh? Guess they showed me...

I have no regrets about my decision. Why am I telling you all this? Well, if you ever hear from anyone who is thinking about going to work for a “highly-regarded” chain in the Midwest that describes itself as a "straight-shooting, people-first" organization, you might want to have them call me...just for a balanced perspective.