Thursday, May 07, 2009

“NUMBER ONE – AND FIRED!”


c. 2009 Rod Ice
All rights reserved
(4-09)




It was a productive evening in the Icehouse home office.

I had just finished an essay on the life of magazine editor and world traveler Robert Lipkin. Riley, our black Labrador Retriever, was curled up on the floor. Back issues of local newspapers were spilling from a file cabinet. The television flickered from a corner of my office.

Suddenly, a pair of portly figures caught my attention on the screen. Being interviewed on WEWS – Channel 5 were Marty Allen and Paul Rado, both producers and participants with ‘The Mike Trivisonno Show’ heard weekdays on WTAM 1100.

Immediately, I grabbed our remote, and clicked up the volume.

It was a surreal conversation. They described having just been terminated by the national media company, Clear Channel. The duo held signs that said ‘WILL WORK FOR FOOD.’

I was overwhelmed. My mouth dropped open.

Allen described his day in tones of disbelief. “They said, ‘You're No, 1, congratulations,’ at 11 a.m. At 5:15, they said, ‘Your services are no longer needed. Have a nice day. There's the elevator.’”

My face went red hot.

“You can call us,” Rado said with a grin. “I think Marty and I are still registered as adult dancers on Craigslist.”

I bowed my head, muttering curses.

Allen concluded the segment with a smile. “And I’m gonna say it one last time, because you may not hear it for awhile – ‘This has been a Big Daddy Marty Allen production!’”

After watching the report, I slumped in my chair.

Liz, my wife, appeared after a few minutes of silence had passed. Her pink and gold sweat suit made me dizzy.

“Are you okay?” she chirped.

My reply was reckless, but honest. “I was until you wore that outfit.”

“Rodney!” she exclaimed.

“Sorry,” I apologized. “My head is spinning… from what just transpired on the news.”

“What are you talking about?” she said, quizzically.

“Marty Allen and Paul Rado from the Triv Show,” I explained. “They were both fired by WTAM. Can you believe that?”

Her eyes narrowed. “Paul Rado? Didn’t we meet him in Valley View a few years ago?”

“Yes,” I agreed. “At the ‘Quaker Steak & Lube.’ We had stopped in for wings and they were doing a promotion for Miller Lite and Victory Motorcycles.”

“So, what did they do wrong?” she asked, impatiently.

“Nothing at all,” I said. “It was part of a cost-cutting move. Clear Channel Radio has been trimming their workforce across the nation.”

She nodded. “Like everyone these days. But there is supposed to be a silver lining in every cloud… so look for that glimmer of hope, Rodney!”

My mood darkened. “Trivisonno will be very alone without those guys. They were talented and personable. Marty even helped me connect with former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar, so I could send him a copy of my ‘Thoughts At Large’ book.”

Liz sighed. “This won’t last forever. But where does it end?”

I brightened, while reaching for my mug. “It ends with another pot of coffee!”

Later, the images of Allen and Rado were still in my head. After everyone had gone to sleep, I sat at the computer. Quietly, I pondered my wife’s positive advice.
Then, I began to compose a letter:

Ray Davis, Program Director
WTAM 1100 / CLEAR CHANNEL RADIO
6200 Oak Tree Boulevard, 4th Floor
Independence, Ohio 44131



Dear Mr. Davis,

I am a journalist and author from Geauga County.

You might remember that a few years ago, I had the pleasure of taking a station tour thanks to your own personal invitation. During my visit, I was able to meet various members of the ‘Mike Trivisonno Show’ crew. This was exciting because I have been a listener and fan of WTAM for many years.

In recent days, I learned that Marty Allen and Paul Rado, two beloved personalities on the ‘Triv’ program, were fired as part of a cost-saving effort by Clear Channel.

This development seemed absolutely astounding at first. And I sincerely hope that both of these fellows find a home somewhere else in the Cleveland market. But after reflection, it became clear that your industry must facing incredible challenges in the current economic downturn. Therefore, drastic measures like those transpiring at General Motors may indeed be unavoidable.

Therefore, with the difficult economy in mind, I would like to offer a ‘recovery plan’ of sorts.

New hiring at your station should be done with a sharp eye on the ‘talent/compensation ratio’ in effect. In football terms, it seems prudent to select several talented, yet unknown players for your roster, instead of overpaying for one high-profile athlete.

Specifically, my proposal is this: create a new spot on your broadcast schedule called ‘Radio Igloo.’ I would be glad to host this program for a minimal fee.

My background is decidedly varied. I have been a lawn mower pilot, public speaker, television apprentice, amateur cartoonist, poet, janitor, warehouseman, retail manager, freelance writer and sports editor.

Each of these endeavors took me in a different and exciting life-direction. Yet they all had a common quality – very humble monetary compensation.

To be blunt, I am used to working hard for a regular, no-frills paycheck.

While some of the personalities currently employed by Clear Channel might enjoy the notoriety of NBA stars LeBron James or Kobe Bryant, I would like to think that my own skill set is more on the order of a journeyman player that might be appreciated by Patriots Coach Bill Belichick.

I have been interested in the history and culture of radio broadcasting since my childhood. At the age of ten, this led to setting up a basement studio where I played records and offered improvised banter through a low-power FM transmitter.

During those formative years, I also spent many weekend nights discovering faraway points on the dial like WLS in Chicago or WHO in Des Moines, Iowa. A particular favorite was WWWE in Cleveland, the forerunner of your current operation.

I feel that my presence in the Clear Channel family would be beneficial in two divergent, yet complimentary ways:

First, I would bring to your station a resume composed of both business and media experiences. This background would be helpful in planning future programs that deal with various subjects of a topical nature.

Second, my services could be acquired for a payroll-friendly sum of cash. This would leave you free to exercise the kind of budget discipline necessary to make WTAM competitive in the modern marketplace. This would appeal to those at the boardroom level, and in the station itself.

Going forward, this experiment could be repeated once the benefits were proven. As a yardstick of sorts, the ‘talent/compensation ratio’ would be a useful tool in determining your future hiring practices.

I look forward to discussing this idea with you in greater detail.

Sincere Regards, Rod Ice

The letter, and my pot of coffee, were finished at the same time. With mixed emotions, I sealed the document in an envelope. Already, I had begun to doze in the chair.

As I closed my eyes, Liz’s voice echoed from oblivion. “Look for that glimmer of hope!”

Comments about Thoughts At Large may be sent to: icewritesforyou@gmail.com
Visit us at: www.thoughtsatlarge.com

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