I'm Just Sayin'
Random Thoughts from a Random Guy

You’re Fired

“You’re fired.”  Two words no one wants to hear.  And long before Donald Trump made the phrase famous, I heard them.  Well, not in so many words.

One of the many news team while I worked at the "Owl"

Picture it:  June 25, 1999.  I walk into work at WOWL-TV 15 in Florence, Alabama.  I had been working there almost two years.  But a few days before that, I’d gotten tipped off that the station management was ending the news department.  The station was switching from an NBC affiliate to a UPN affiliate.

For some reason, the boss felt compelled to speed up the process of eliminating the news team.  I remember that day as if it was yesterday, even though it was 11 years ago, and I’ve had so many experiences since that time.

I was the news director, 6 p.m. anchor and producer, and reporter at the time.  I came in at 9 that morning, knowing we were having a “mandatory” meeting at 11 a.m.  Even though I suspected we were all getting canned, I still went about my usually morning routine:  making beat calls, getting the assignments ready for the other reporters, and rolling on the news feeds.

Some of the final members of the OWL staff

So, 11 a.m. finally rolled around and the station owner/GM called us into the conference room and took what felt like 2 hours to say “we’re ending the news, you’re all out of a job.”  I remember feeling very bitter and angry at the time.  Mostly because Lisa was four months pregnant with Ethan at the time.  So, now I’m unemployed.  And it’s not exactly easy finding a job in the world of TV News.

I remember the bossman saying to me, “Kevin, you’re so quiet, please, say something.  Let me have it.”  As much as I wanted to tell him to go (insert word here) himself, I chose the high road.  I simply told him my focus is on finding a new job and providing for my growing family.

So as the entire news team (all 6 of us) were given the pink slip, we packed up our belongings and started to leave.  Someone looked at the severance check we were given and noted it was only one week’s pay.  We were told in the meeting we were getting two weeks.  So we had to wait around while they cut new checks.  Then the group of us headed to the local watering hole in town and started drowning our sorrows.  I can only imagine what the other patrons thought as they saw the entire news team sitting around eating, drinking, and laughing in the middle of the afternoon when we should have been out gathering news.  We were replaced that night with an infomerical which stung even more.

Luckily Lisa had a fulltime job, with benefits, so she and Ethan were going to be okay.  And I think Lisa liked my brief stint of unemployment.  She came home to a homemade lunch every afternoon and dinner was on the table when she came back.

I spent about six weeks searching for a new job.  At the time, I was only looking for reporting gigs, but then when things were happening like I wanted to, I expanded my search and was hired to produce the morning news in West Lafayette, Indiana.

While I was bitter and upset at the time of the firing, I know now it helped me grow as a person and put me where I am today.  I feel fortunate for the time I spent at WOWL, I learned so much there in the 20 months I was there.

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2 Responses to “You’re Fired”

  1. And we were lucky to have you!

  2. Thanks Ryan. I learned a lot from you in my time at Channel 18.


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