Thursday, July 21, 2005

Layoffs

What happened at the Trib this week stirred up some memories I wanted to share.

Before I do that - bets on whether tomorrow morning's Portland Tribune mentions them at all. I say no.

In March of 2001, the new corporate owner of KOIN (Emmis, which is now selling the joint) let go of about 20% of the staff. Sales, traffic, finance, production and news. No department was spared.

In its wake, some long-time technicians, reporters and photographers we're let go and escorted by security out the door (corporate America). Sandy James. Mark Sanchez. Dave Schmitke. Craig Sklar. John Keller. Charlie Parr. Leslie Martin. Wayne Kosbau. Jay Leonard. Dean Murch. Jeff Voeller. And others. Their old friend and colleague - then manager, John Ray was on his honeymoon, but his fingerprints (fairly or not) were on the dismissal. He still has a hard time talking about it. He'd been pushed aside by the news director Rick Howard who was hired, along with April Thomas and with the help of Bruce Williams (now at KPTV), to clean house.

John got his walking papers in June along with Shirley Hancock, John Honore (who got the sweetest severence in the history of Portland) and a guy named Winnick (can't remember his first name).

It was the largest house cleaning in Portland TV history. Many thought it was a chance to get rid of old timers and bring in fresh blood. In truth it was about saving money. The publicity about Shirley's firing was the beginning of the end of KOIN news. Many people say Gianola smartly used Shirley's example to convince KOIN to give him his current contract, lest he go back home to KATU and take with him a sizable audience. (How odd considering Shirley used Jeff as a way to get a settlment in her suit against KOIN).

My point here is to remember all these nice people, who, like those good people at the Trib, were human beings. They may had lost a step, or didn't fit in, or were a financial liability, but they were people. Most of them moved on. I just heard Mark Sanchez was the last one let go from KOIN to get work - finally finding a PR job in Salem. Good for them all. They found something.

The lesson is the business (media) is malleable. They all had skills.

But we should remember everyone who work or worked in Portland media because they loved it and thought they'd retire doing it.

To the six at the Trib (and Nevill Eschen, who lost the newspaper side of her Pamplin gig), godspeed.

28 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said. BTW, his first name was Orin.

Thursday, July 21, 2005 10:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you work in TV news you are smart enough to do another job and you will make more money. If you ever get dumped remember you will look back and be happy you were forced to make a change.
Been there, done that, make lots more dough and no deadlines.

Thursday, July 21, 2005 10:21:00 PM  
Anonymous bill mcdonald said...

I relived my own dismissal from the Trib through these recent events and I, too, feel for these people immensely. Fortunately I had other writing clients at the time who have stuck with me, so it wasn’t a financial wipeout, but this was a high profile gig for a semi-recluse like me. Here’s a few of the highs and lows:
1. It was a real trip when they used to deliver it and I’d come out the door in the morning and have my work all around the neighborhood.
2. It was also amazing when I’d be sitting on the bus while the person next to me was reading my column.
3. Then came the breakup: The trouble with getting fired by the Trib was not being able to walk more than a few blocks in this city without seeing one of those green boxes. At first that really was a pain.
4. Of course, with any torrid romance that goes terribly wrong, there is a time when you look back on the whole thing and start to feel much better. What a scenario. What a cast of characters. I consider it a real privilege to have gone through the experience. Sure it was painful, but life goes on. I wish these new members of the Tribune Alumni Association well. I hope the paper survives, but if it doesn’t, I’ll miss seeing those green boxes on the corner. Nowadays they just make me smile.

Thursday, July 21, 2005 11:03:00 PM  
Anonymous LightningStorm said...

As I recall, that "sweetest ever in Portland" severance package was 2 years and 2 months worth of pay for John Honore. And he had just received 6 months of severance from his last station while working at KOIN.
So it's either: Buy a brand new house with mainly cash, take two years off, or have an instant large retirement account...tough choice!

Thursday, July 21, 2005 11:08:00 PM  
Anonymous out of the biz and happy said...

Every once in a while I'm reminded of the way I was let go from my last radio job 12 or so years ago. I knew I'd never work in the biz again; I'd worked at the two stations I'd wanted to work at, and I couldn't go back to either. The one offer I got the day the news broke that I'd been let go was half of what I had been making and was described as a "foot in the door." I said, come back when you have an actual job. They didn't and thank god for that. I retrained myself and probably write more now, write more of what I want, and have a far more devoted audience than I ever did before. And no, I'm not a blogger. :)

Thursday, July 21, 2005 11:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was fired from a radio station here, the boss sent me out of his office with the gift of a STATION JACKET. I left it in the lunchroom on the way out.

Friday, July 22, 2005 7:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

KOIN is in far worse shape right now than they were in 2001 just following the layoffs.

Perhaps they should bring back Kerry Oslund...

Friday, July 22, 2005 7:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Jeff Smulyan (emmisblows@gmail.com) said...

OINK in worse shape then when I took over? Maybe I let go of the wrong folks...

I guess people really do make the difference...

Friday, July 22, 2005 9:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

who among those who got dumped is just about to get married? That's going to be a sour honeymoon indeed...

Friday, July 22, 2005 10:46:00 AM  
Anonymous RearViewMirror said...

Getting laid off can be devastating.

It can also be the greatest thing ever to happen to you.

It can be both of those things on the same day. Sometimes the same hour.

Some truths:

You are capable of doing doing more than "just" journalism or broadcasting.

You are more adaptable than you think you are.

You can find a place to work that is far healthier for you than the place you left. Really.

You will learn things about yourself - good and bad.

And the sooner you let go of the bitterness and anger you naturally feel, the sooner you can get on with the rest of your life.

I got blown out - and got my life back. Sure, I could have reclaimed it on my own, but I had trapped myself in the same traps that trap others - money, cool job, fun work (though the fun came less frequently toward the end) and people I liked spending time with.

It will be ok.

Friday, July 22, 2005 11:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Schulberg's the one getting married.

Friday, July 22, 2005 11:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

portland media employees=professional failure

Friday, July 22, 2005 11:34:00 AM  
Anonymous 2524212 said...

I can only imagine how much better off KOIN would be ratings-wise had the pre-2001 anchor teams not been dismantled. Gianola/Hancock (5pm), Donahue/Hancock (6pm), and Gianola/Day (6:30 & 11pm)... a fantastic evening line-up that would still be going strong today, were it not for Emmis' catastrophic decision in 2001.

Friday, July 22, 2005 8:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if the Tribune is doing one of two things:

1. Moving to a one day a week publishing schedule (either Tuesday or Friday, not both).
2. Becoming what I would call an "entertainment-based" publication, with no real "news," just crap about what's playing at whatever theater, some "top story" that's PR for the police, city, Pamplin himself, or another fill-in-the-blank agency, and the rest of the pages filled with 900 numbers and/or sex "chat lines."

If they do the latter, I'll quit bothering. Willamette Week does that well enough, thank you, I don't even bother with the Mercury.

Friday, July 22, 2005 10:19:00 PM  
Blogger The Show said...

I think a lot of places would be better pre-Emmis. Emmis thinks you can run a TV station like a radio station... NOT!

Friday, July 22, 2005 10:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Emmis thinks you can run a TV station like a radio station... NOT"

And why is that? Please share your wisdom on this topic.

Friday, July 22, 2005 10:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Schulberg doesn't get picked up by the O or WW, he should get back into radio, maybe on KPOJ doing a weekend show just after "What Else is News?" on local media.

Saturday, July 23, 2005 12:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hard to imagine him back at the O, which didn't like his original "defection" to the Trib and probably carries a grudge. WW salaries are considerably beneath the standard to which S. has become accustomed. Considerably.

Saturday, July 23, 2005 9:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Saturday, July 23, 2005 12:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can someone wiser than I am please explain the preceding post????

Saturday, July 23, 2005 8:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What the???

Saturday, July 23, 2005 9:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ohio? Is that near Montana?

Saturday, July 23, 2005 11:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

capitals i donapostrophest understand it either periods

Sunday, July 24, 2005 12:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

uh, bill, it's time to reformulate your meds schedule.

Sunday, July 24, 2005 6:36:00 AM  
Anonymous bill mcdonald said...

Your comment implies that I wrote the item about Ohio, which isn't true, but I will review my meds schedule anyway, out of respect for bloggers everywhere.

Sunday, July 24, 2005 8:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A few Novembers ago, I produced a Portland TV 5 o'clock newscast that, unbeknownst to me and the ND, won the Associated Press Award for Best Newscast in the entire state.

While the awards were secretly being processed, in Denver and Salem, the ND fired my butt, gave me two weeks notice and called security.

The ND didn't know I had won the award and he also did not know I had a contract. A big, fat contract. Oops. KGW ended up paying me low five figures to promise not to sue.

The point? When you get an award saying you are the best in the state, and get fired anyway, that is one of two things -- a sign to stay in (you're good) or a sign to get out (they don't care).

I'm out. Happily. So is the ND, Brink "Beer, boyz?" Chipman. Forever.

Sunday, July 24, 2005 12:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What makes you the think that the people of portland actually care about Hancock or Gianola in the least bit? Or that the innerworkings of PDX media are even remotely interesting? Welcome to hicksville and find yourself a better hobby/

Friday, July 29, 2005 2:17:00 PM  
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