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Occupy My Office: Getting By on a Radio Person's Salary

Not Just Radio - Real Life


With the recent Occupy Wall Street movement making news and stirring up the consciousness of Americans with a variety of causes to consider, it might be a good time to put a little perspective on those who do have jobs.

Sure, the worse scenario is "no job" but in the event you do have one, sometimes even the circumstances of that employment can be precarious. Some Radio Jobs from Hell wind up categorized as such for a variety of reasons: incredibly lousy pay, incredibly lousy tools, incredibly lousy hours, or the Deejay Trifecta: incredibly lousy pay, tools, and hours.

And The Microphone Was a String with 2 Tin Cans

Let's talk about tools for a moment. Most of us expect to go to our job and be given the minimum in working tools and resources so we can effectively do our work. Early in my career I worked at a radio station in Chillicothe, Ohio. It was a part-time job and my shift was the whole day: from sunrise to sunset (the station signed on at sunrise and was required to sign off at sunset).

The studios were barely maintained but what I remember the most was a tape recorder that was used to play back some reel-to-reel tapes with religious programming on them. On the tape deck where there should have been a lever attached to a shaft for putting the tape deck into "play" and "stop" there was nothing. Only a shaft. The official procedure for playing a tape was to use a wrench to clasp onto the shaft and then turn the shaft to the right until it slipped into gear. What a piece of junk.

Although most radio stations have long transitioned from mechanical and analog to computer and digital, you can be assured that even in this high-tech age, there are still hundreds of pieces of equipment in use that have to be hit two or three times with a fist to really work properly.

At Least the T-Shirts Are Free

On the lousy pay scale, I can assure you that most people who work in Radio are not living in the 1%. They, too, are part of the 99% struggling to meet bill payments and pay food bills. That's why radio folks supplement their income with appearances and remote broadcasts. Most of the time, those events come with a little extra cash and although they are not generally physically demanding, they do take time. And you're not paid for your travel getting to a place or getting back home. Plus, high gasoline prices really eat into your talent fees. Generally speaking, the only shift on a radio station where there's a chance for a better-than-average salary is doing mornings. If you can pull in good ratings on a decent station, you can get ahead of the pack financially. Otherwise, what size you need? XL?

Ambien Just Called: Your Truckload is Ready

So, if you want to make any decent money, you better be prepared to get your butt up at 3 or 4 a.m. in the morning. I guarantee this will throw your sleep pattern into something that resembles the pins in a pachinko game. If you survive that you'll be healthy enough to work on holidays like Christmas and New Year's because Radio doesn't take a holiday.

Occupy My Office

I think the saddest (sad but funny) story about employment and Radio has to be an instance where a station employee did move into his office. To protect those involved, let me just say I have this information on good authority. It seems a Promotion Director at a radio station was having such a hard time meeting his bills, he moved out of his apartment and unbeknownst to his employer, moved into his office at work. It's not too unusual to see a couch in an office or a little refrigerator in the corner. But, his office had a little more in comforts - not enough to totally give him away - at least to anyone who wasn't looking.

This poor guy lived in his office for several months, sleeping there each night. Since the building had no active security personnel patrolling the hallways, there was no one to really notice or keep track. He slipped in, he slipped out. No one was ever the wiser. It was only after he moved on to another job somewhere else did the story leak out that he had been occupying his office as a residence. I doubt he's the first person to spend some quality time in an office - nor will he be the last.

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