What Do You Want To Do When You Grow Up: Part 8

Turnaround

Another edition of the Boo-Hoo Chronicles!

Seven Months and Only One Interview

This was bad. The unemployment numbers were getting worse every month. I applied for jobs. I called people. I emailed them. I did whatever I could to find work, but the math was not in my favor. More and more people were losing their jobs, more and more companies were either folding or scaling back to the point where people were doing two to three jobs and getting the same pay. The house of cards that was built by the financial sector betting on risky loans collapsed. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who thought it was the second Great Depression. In a way, it was, and continues to be. It was truly scary. Julie and I were hoping she wouldn’t lose her job, too. I kept busy at home looking for work and dropping Maya off to school every morning and picking her up every afternoon. I also planned dinners, cooked and tried to keep as positive as possible, but it was not easy to keep my spirits up when nothing, absolutely nothing, was breaking my way.

One day, I got a call from a company interested in interviewing me. It was primarily a newspaper type of organization wherein they wrote for a number of ethnic communities in the Bay Area.  However, they were looking for a producer for a radio show.  The interview went well, except when they asked if I ever wrote for a newspaper. I said no, but highlighted my writing experience with Popdose. That wasn’t enough to keep them interested.  In short, I didn’t get the job.

It was an employment desert. Every month, the unemployment numbers got worse. Every month, I applied for jobs that got no response. It was a demoralizing time. I wasn’t sure what we were going to do.  And then the owner of the station I worked for called and wanted to have lunch. The first lunch was just chit-chat. Nothing special. He said the “keep in touch, ” and I said I would — but didn’t. A few months later, I got another call from the owner who asked me to lunch again. When we met up, he asked if I was interested in coming back to the station as a manager. I said I was. A few emails back and forth and the next then I knew, I was managing the promotions and marketing department. I had a big job. I had to turn around the department. The relations between promotions, sales and programming wasn’t good. People were leaving the department, and they needed someone who was organized, could rebuild relations with the other departments, and hire a staff that was more people-friendly.  A turnaround situation is not easy. There’s a timetable, expectations, outcomes to meet. But I set out to essentially “right the ship” as it were. It took some time, but I was able to get the department in good shape. I had to let some people go (not easy, and it really stressed me out) but once I got people I could work with in place, things started moving in the right direction. I wasn’t thrilled with the job, but it was work. Truth be told, it was tedious work. A lot of admin work with spreadsheets to keep up, forms to fill out, timelines to manage, and contracts to fulfill. It wasn’t what I was born to do, but I rose to the challenge and did the job — and in my opinion (since that’s all I care about now) I did a great job.  Not good, but great. I’m not a guy who boasts, but I did exceed the expectations of the owners.  However, they were a fickle lot, and wanted to see how far they could push things. So, after some time, expectations started to grow, but I kept at it.

The job lasted about three years, and then the station faced a similar situation as they did in 2008. They were not bringing enough money, and they had launched a new business that included four new online streaming stations and a new social media campaign. I was asked to be their new social media director (no extra money was offered), and I put together a strategy on growing their audience in collaboration with one of the owners (a real shit stain of human being). I had set up advertising with Google and Facebook and we were doing what radio stations always do: pay people to listen. It was a daily cash giveaway, but it wasn’t much ($100 a day). It didn’t grow the audience as fast as they wanted (they had inflated expectations and limited patience ). With the downturn in their ad revenue, they had to make staff reductions.

Guess who was on the list?

Click here for part 9 (the last chapter)

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