Why I Left My Job In Radio
This is a story I’ve wanted to share for a long time. Two years to be exact, but I haven’t out of fear of the consequences of being honest about why I left my job in radio. It’s the same fear that kept me silent during some pretty appalling things happening around me at the office, but it’s not a fear I am willing to hold onto any longer. Keeping this story to only the ears of a few close friends while secretly being affected by it all of these years later is only serving to protect the people who were in the wrong, while silently suffering behind closed doors. If you haven’t noticed yet, I’m tired of that silence and I’m tired of that suffering, and I’m tired of protecting people/things that no longer (if ever) served me.
So here we go.
Many of you know part of my story, and some of you may have chanced upon this blog post for one reason or another so I will give a brief history for contextual reasons.
I started working in radio when I was in college, handing out stickers at concerts, working crazy hours, going to shows and having the best times of my life. I knew right away that it was the job for me because I truly couldn’t wait to get to work each day and I never ever dreaded going. In all of the other jobs I’d ever had, I never had that much ease before a shift. I loved it.
When I moved to Los Angeles, it took me about 6 months to find a job in radio, and I felt lucky as hell to get it. I was 23 years old, ready to bust my ass in the only industry I’d ever loved. I was truly passionate about music, I loved people, I loved getting to fulfill listener’s dreams of these once in a lifetime opportunities with their favorite artists. There were times I worked 80 hour work weeks (with a few tears but always ended in gratitude for the experience) and quickly worked my way up the corporate ladder. Within one year of being hired, I was promoted to a full time position. A year later, I was promoted again, and a year after that I moved into a new department where I stayed for awhile.
A couple of years later, I quit. My dad had died, I wasn’t happy with how I was being treated in my department and I wasn’t in a place to really deal with any of it.
Then I spent over a year regretting that decision.
Luckily for me, I was given a second chance to go back to that same radio station, pick up where I left off and give it another try. A phone call came in asking if I would consider coming back and I hell yes’d my way to my cubicle, happy for the opportunity to do what I loved again, with a much healthier mind and attitude.
I was really happy to be back, and again, I busted my ass and worked as hard as I could with what I had to do the best job I could for the company. I created content I was proud of, I helped younger people by sharing my knowledge, I tried as hard as I could to have good relationships with my colleagues and of course, like anyone, I made plenty of mistakes along the way. But lord knows, I truly tried my best.
At the time, there wasn’t a lot of money being allocated to my department, and the company was getting ready to sell so it wasn’t easy on anyone. I didn’t have a support staff, I couldn’t really compete with other stations at other companies because we just literally didn’t have what they did (equipment, access to artists, staff, etc) and it never really felt like my ideas were met with enthusiasm or support. I had a boss that was checked out, and most days I was barely keeping my head above water while trying to just get by.
There is one huge moment that is by far the worst thing I have ever experienced professionally, that to this day brings feelings of humiliation into my mind and makes my heart beat faster when I think about it. And it’s for sure, without a doubt, one of the reasons I left radio.
My boss was finally able to hire a social media manager to support our stations, and decided to re-hire an old employee. No shame in that game, as I was also rehired and happy for the opportunity. This person wasn’t someone that I 100% vibed with, but I was happy for the help and am capable of working with pretty much anyone as long as we have common goals and basic respect for one another. Again, I wasn’t perfect in that way and I know people had bad experiences with me too, so please don’t take this as a holier than though comment. But MOST of the people I worked with, I got along really well with and for that I am proud.
Anyway, cut to a staff meeting that left me hysterically crying on the phone with my brother in the middle of a work day wondering if I was even remotely sort of decent at my job or if I was just wasting my time.
The social media manager had been in our department for a whopping 1 week before this staff meeting took place. Supported by my boss, it was requested that she create a presentation to show to all of the managers ways in which we could be doing better on social. Now mind you, I’d spent a year or so managing all of this on my own. Coming up with ideas, implementing them, and doing my best with ZERO resources, and feeling pretty damn proud of what I’d done. The idea of that being picked apart in front of my colleagues not only made me nauseas, it also was incredibly confusing. How could someone know all the ways in which we needed to improve without any experience actually working in the department? She didn’t know the challenges we faced, our protocols; Did she even know our login passwords at that point?
Either way, the day came that this meeting was going to take place and I sucked it up and went in to take the public shaming I knew was forthcoming. For two hours, yes, you read that right, two fucking hours, I sat in a meeting while my boss and my new colleague shared a power point presentation ripping apart the content I’d so passionately created over the span of my time in digital. Tearing apart the ideas, discussing how off brand and out of touch they were, red lines and side by sides of what the competition was doing. It was awful, unnecessary, unsuccessful as far as getting people on board for new ideas and truly just something that no boss should have ever supported and participated in. It was the worst example of management I’ve ever experienced. It was shameful and I wish I’d had the courage to go to HR at the time, but instead, I cried to my brother and went home early. Then I showed up the next day, put on a brave face and spent over a year working with someone who barely showed up for work while somehow still getting paid. It was a nightmare. I was a shell of myself but I needed the money and I wanted so badly to make it work. This was a career I’d worked so fucking hard to establish, I didn’t want to walk away again, no matter how much armor I had to wear just to get there everyday. So I stayed, and I did my best, while this person wreaked havoc on a daily basis.
Cut to the second reason I left radio. This one is a real doozy and has affected my life in ways so profound it’s hard to wrap my head around it all.
Quick context for this one too: my best friend dated one of the most powerful men not only in our building, but in our entire industry. That was a strange situation for eight years, but I managed to keep it separate from my work life, and did a damn good job at that if I do say so myself.
So finding out that powerful man was having an affair with his much younger secretary was challenging to say the least. It wasn’t long after I got my job back that I received an upsetting phone call from my best friend (on her birthday, you can’t make this shit up) that her suspicions were true and she’d discovered that her boyfriend was in fact banging his assistant. It was heart breaking, infuriating, devastating and just fucking terrible. I felt awful for my friend, I was grossed out by this man who controlled pretty much every aspect of everyone’s job at my company...It sucked.
I’m not going to go into specific details about it all, because that part is not my story to tell but it had a profound and life changing affect on me as well.
Everyday for nearly two years, I had a secret that nobody else knew. At first, they did a pretty good job at hiding their relationship, but eventually they stopped caring and it became really clear to everyone who worked there what was going on. The powerful man stopped caring about his job, was distracted by his affair, ran several radio stations into the ground, caused many other people to also leave their jobs, gave his secretary girlfriend and her friends access to things they shouldn’t have, gave them power they shouldn’t have, I could go on. It was truly the cliche story you have watched in movies. Again, I wish I’d gone to HR about it all but I had a pretty good idea of how that story would end: I get pushed out in some clever corporate fashion (you didn’t sign your paperwork on time, we’re writing you up bla bla until I’m fired), so I kept my mouth shut and did my best to ignore the situation. I was there to do my job, if the powerful guy wants to fuck his secretary, what can I do about it anyway?
Eventually, it all just became too egregious for me to ignore. I couldn’t sit through another meeting with her in a mini dress, backless with her bra showing, giving orders about things she had no business even being part of, including things that had to do with my job, or him being so checked out that things weren’t getting done yet still making over a million dollars a year. Oh and did I mention that his ex gf, my best friend, eventually had to leave that situation and began living with me? Its been an honor to have her in my home and I am proud to be able to support her during such a shitty time of her life. She’s a blessing to this world with a heart of gold and she will always have support from me, no matter what. Everyone that knows her, loves her and to be her friend is to win the lottery. For real. She didn’t deserve what went down, and you can’t argue that no matter what side of the story you are in.
Unfortunately, there was just no way for me to continue working at a company that would let things like that happen, with multiple complaints to HR from several staff members essentially ignored. I mean, she was eventually let go, or as they put it “moved on to bigger and better things.” AKA, the powerful boss got her a job at another company but he’s still there, thriving. Did I mention this isn’t the first affair he’s had with a secretary? Ha. It was literally the horror show of Corporate America that you continue to read about every day. While I was devastated at the thought of leaving again, I knew that I couldn’t continue to ignore it. My metal armor had finally worn thin, and it was time to let go of this dream job that no longer really existed.
So I quit. Again.
It’s been nearly two years, and I’m finally starting to accept what happened. And I know this blog will inevitably find its way to the people I’m discussing. Whether you want to accept your part in this is up to you, but please don’t bother reaching out. Don’t try and explain away what happened, don’t try and convince me that I misunderstood it all. I am very confident in my understanding, it is you that needs to look deeply in the mirror and know that how you behaved truly destroyed a lot of people in many ways. If I’ve made you angry, I truly don’t care. If I am burning bridges with you, let me pour the gasoline and hand you a match. I’m tired of pretending that any of those things were excusable, because they weren’t.
I am finally getting to a point where I no longer feel pangs of sadness when I see what my former colleagues are up to. I made lifelong friendships there that I cherish and for that I will forever be thankful. I taught myself, and got to participate in so many incredible things that are serving me well now, which is great. I am finally feeling confident again in my talents after working with clients who respect, appreciate and value my worth. It’s amazing what that can do for someone. I am thrilled when I see some of those former younger people who I helped along the way using that knowledge to further their own careers and I am ecstatic when I get to throw them some side work when my projects need it. I am honored when they tell me that I helped them in anyway, and am thankful when they share that sentiment with me. It is all of that, that makes me feel proud of what I accomplished during my 10 year career in radio, even though many of the events I just shared left me feeling pretty disgusted with Corporate America and the music industry in general.
Radio was a fun time while it lasted, but as long as I live in Los Angeles, I could never go back to it. The idea of running into any of the people I mentioned and pretending that things are fine feels like a 1000lb weight I’m not interested in holding. And that’s ok for me, finally. I wasn’t ok with it for a long time, but I am now. I am proud of that.
So anyway, yes, I left radio to start my indigo business at the time but I also left it because of some dark and stupid shit. Maybe someone else would have stayed, but I just couldn’t, and that’s ok. It feels good to finally put it out to the universe. Do what you want with it, it is no longer my burden to bear.
Thanks for making it this far.