For many years now, I’ve been very consistent. I’ve always said any business owner should be able to keep or fire someone with or without cause. The exception? Nobody should ever be fired because of religion, skin color, gender or sexual orientation.
Good. So, I got that out of the way. I was fired November 1, 2012 from my old stomping grounds after a phenomenal 19 years with the same station. I loved working there and when they fired me, I was devastated. Even though I couldn’t understand my firing, I supported my former employer’s right to let me go. Publicly and privately I said the same thing—I had a great run and I appreciated 19 years of employment. That hasn’t changed. I will always keep those folks in my heart in a good way for the opportunities I had to grow as a man and as a broadcaster.
But….I gotta tell you, this corporate media stuff is tough to swallow sometimes. Recently, three more local icons were shown the door. Over at B106 Radio, a local broadcast staple Brent Johnson was put in impossible circumstances and showed total class leaving it all behind. I won’t get into why he’s not there anymore—but I will tell you that it was corporate radio flexing it’s muscle in the ugliest form. Again. It was “deja-vu” for me when Brent was turned loose. Then, The State Newspaper let the incredible talent Cindi Ross Scoppe go. I don’t know all the circumstances there—but, we all know the struggles of print media in 2018. I suspect this was more about dollars than a dispute. It’s just a huge shame. We’ve also seen WIS-TV let a tremendous talent in Jack Kuenzie go. He was simply the most-experienced, most-talented and most-ethical reporter in Columbia television news.
This is just a short list of amazing talent that’s been cut recently by corporate media. Is it their right to let talents like Brent, Cindi and Jack go? Absolutely. Do I support their right to do so? Of course. Do I like it? Of course not. Does anyone really think we’re better off as a community with talents like these out-of-work? Does anyone think there’s a better TV reporter than Jack Kuenzie? Does anyone know a more entertaining morning personality than Brent Johnson? For goodness sakes, is anyone writing and keeping South Carolina’s elected officials more in-check than Cindi?
These are great talents and if they want to find work—they will. The sad part here is that they won’t be the last. There’s just not many local talents left. Print media is on its last leg. At all those music stations you’ve grown up with in Columbia—-well, almost everything is voice-tracked. Very little of what you think is live is actually live. The DJs record things and put them in the computer and they run when they’re supposed to run. In many cases, the station is using talent from outside this market. The traffic and the news you hear is from corporate services and recorded somewhere else and then sent to Columbia as files to run. Kinda sickens me.
Don’t get me wrong—TV stations did a great job with the recent storm coverage for Hurricane Florence. The State has tried to do comprehensive coverage of the SCANA debacle. I know the landscape has changed…major radio companies like the one I used to work for has filed bankruptcy nationally. It’s a competitive world…and media is changing. I just hate for the people of The Midlands and for those world-class talents I mentioned that there’s not a place for ’em when we read the paper, turn on the radio or watch the local news.