There are right ways and wrong ways to fire people in this business.
I learned not to do it over the phone. I guess the most important thing about giving a person the old heave-ho is to let them vent a little. Sometimes they beg. Sometimes they cry. But if let you them do it then at least they get some of the shock, anger and denial out of their system.
Through no fault of my own a really bad DJ had been hired to do the Saturday night oldies show. As I later got the story the fellow in question was a golf pro at the general managers course and got him free golf or something.
Anyway this guy was a monumentally bad DJ. He talked with elaborate over pronunciation sounding as natural and friendly as a cigar store Indian. His knowledge of the music was quite good and he couldn’t resist imparting it in one or two minute rambling dissertations that sounded like speech class. And all those things could have been forgiven because after all the boss was being hooked up with free golf but for his one deadly sin. Worse than any other fault on the radio he had dead air. Not just a little here and there. But minutes of it. There is nothing more agonizing to a program director then the sound of nothing coming out of your radio station. The longer it goes on you can just feel the twisting radio dials as they go elsewhere where the DJ is actually broadcasting something.
This guy was the all time champ at silence and it drove me to distraction. I would hot-line him, call him into my office and basically read him the riot act over and over but if anything he got worse. At one point we were off the air during his shift ten times, once for two minutes. I know because I timed it, yelling at the radio and making my wife run from the room.
So I went to the GM and told him free golf or not the guy had to go. Well it seems that the slient sam had lost his job at the golf course so I had the Bosses blessing.
I ran to the phone and called the guy. Got his answering machine and without too much thought blew him out with a short message.
Nothing mean, just the fact that he need not come in this Saturday night or in fact ever again.
I gave the matter exactly zero thought, put in a replacement and took off for the weekend to go out of town.
I stumbled in for my airshift on Monday morning and noticed a few odd looks by the overnight guy. Finally I asked him what was on his mind. “You didn’t see it?” he asked. “What didn’t I see?” I wanted to know. He took me back out if the studio and pointed at the control room door. There was a long note from the lousy DJ full of hate and ugly character assassination on the door. It basically called into question my parentage, my ability as a program director and cheerfully predicted a dark finish to my career. “It’s been there all weekend.” The overnight guy cheerfully told me. “Well why didn’t someone take it down?” I asked. “Because it’s glued to the door!”
Sure enough the guy who couldn’t play two records back to back had decoupaged this hateful note to the door with what seemed to be super glue. It took hours with a razor blade and even then you could see something had been affixed to the door. I would love to quote from this little love letter but obviously it was destroyed in the process.
It’s a small business. I got to hear this character the other day on the miniscule radio station he is on. Still sounds like he has a pole up his ass, stiff as a corpse delivery. And even with all the modern technology he still has dead air.
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER All of these things really happened. Names and places are somewhat altered to protect innocent and guilty. Some characters have been altered to protect their identities but in most cases they will know who they are.