Some of you reading may remember me as the ‘sports guy’ on CKX TV.
Lots has changed since that time. I moved away in 2001, accepting a job as a morning radio guy in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. While I still live in Yorkton, my love for the media industry went downhill and if I’m ever in a situation again where I have to rely on a radio or television station in order to make ends meet, then I have failed myself.
I have learned since leaving the industry that broadcast employers rank amongst the worst that one can ever have. I mean what better way to insult a faithful long term employee of more than 20-years than to produce a radio spot and NOT use the person’s voice who’s been associated with the customer for those 20-years? May as well just hold a public meeting and call the announcer up on stage and slap him across the face.
I’m not a union guy. For the most part, I want no part of them. My experience was always that they help slackers more than the person who puts in an honest day’s effort. But, shortly after my tenure at CKX started I was in need of a union. My photographer and I had gone to Shoal Lake to shoot video of the Midget AAA Yellowhead Chiefs game. In addition to grabbing highlights, the photographer was also supposed to get special, up close footage that would better reflect a 30-second tv ad. I have no proof, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the customer was charged some sort of additional production fee even though we were going to be there anyway. That’s not the important part of the story. After the game, I was helping the photographer put his equipment away and I, carelessly, left the beta tapes on top of the CKX station wagon. We drove away and the tapes flew off the roof, only I didn’t know this until we got back into Brandon and I was searching for them in order to cut up the highlights for Monday’s sportscast. I, immediately, called my News Director and she chalked it up to being an accident and told me not to worry. Well, I did worry. I got in my own vehicle and drove back to Shoal Lake to try and find these three tapes (it was midnight). I recovered one, but it was not usable. I left a note for the staff in the morning and went home. By Monday afternoon the union rep called me and said I better get into the station because the sales representative wanted me fired and sales trumps on-air 110% of the time. His precious footage was gone. The union rep said it wasn’t like the photographer and I were being unprofessional with these tapes. We, simply, made a mistake. Furthermore, me driving back in the middle of the night to try and salvage something was proof my heart was in the right place. That meant diddly squat to the sales man (email me and I’ll tell you who it was). To make a long story short, the union won and I ended up with a written reprimand instead of getting gassed. But that should have been my first warning that the employer doesn’t have your back.
It’s a cut throat industry. I have seen many, many people give their heart and soul to a station only to be escorted out the door at some point down the road because the bottom line meant a bit more than an individual trying to put supper on the table. I used to joke to a few people that the CKX sales staff would sell bars and tone to their customers if they could pass it with the CRTC. On-air people meant nothing. Unless, of course, it was ratings. Then you are everything. You can’t ake a holiday or a sick day. It’s crucial you be there and be on your game so that ratings go up and sales staff can charge more for ads. Once the ratings period is over, you can be fired and replaced by someone who will work cheaper. Harsh. But, true. I’ve seen announcers who refuse to give one second of their spare time get criticized and, eventually, just let-go because they weren’t good employees. I’ve seen announcers spend all of their waking hours (even some sleeping ones) at the station and also get let-go and a blind eye given to the dedication.
I used to love ratings. It was the only time the company would pay for overtime. I can recall being at a zone curling play down one time and the photographer started packing up his gear in a 5-5 game in the middle of the 9th end. I asked him what he was doing and he said if he worked any longer it would be overtime and we weren’t allowed to put any in. But, I was the clown on TV the next night showing highlights without the 10th end.
I’m not sure how often you will see my writings appear on this website, but if you ever have any questions and want me to answer them through a similar article, please don’t hesitate. I’ll be as candid and as honest as I can. In the meantime, I may saturate you with some of my political beliefs. I still like sports, but when you aren’t involved on a day to day basis anymore, you learn there is a lot more to life than being depressed over some game where your favorite team didn’t win because they got screwed over by a referee. Big deal. I think pro sports may actually be rigged anyway, but that’s for another day.