My heart is heavy with worry and sadness for two very good men.
Two of my former co-workers were laid off from my old station. One had been there 31 years and is known by name more than just about anyone else in this market. He is a giant in this business. He is also practically family. He calls himself my “Dutch Uncle”. We are close. His daughter is a dear friend of mine and her daughter is around my toddler son’s age and they play together. His wife shares her incredible recipes with me and I attempt to recreate them, but with no luck most of the time because there is no better cook. I had the honor of anchoring alongside him for a few years…the best years of my news career. We are connected. And now, sadly, we have yet another thing in common. Here, Brad Barton tells us what happened and says goodbye as only he can:
“Shortly after my shift ended at 10, I was called to Brian Purdy’s office where Kurt Johnson and the new H-R director met me. I had been out of contract since April and was on notice to expect a salary reduction of up to one-third. I thought they might be informing me the new lower rate was about to begin. Instead, I was told my position was being eliminated. Since I did weather for KRLD, TSN and KVIL, had several endorsement clients and anchored a 5-hour AM drive shift, it was not exactly clear which “position” they were eliminating. The fact is, everyone knew it was my salary that was being eliminated.
I believe Brian and Kurt were sincerely sorry about what they had to do (to everyone) Thursday and I have no reason to think otherwise. My high opinion of both has not changed. They were very clear about the fact that it was strictly a financial restructuring and nothing punitive.
I was told no one in the newsroom knew what was going on yet. When Paul sent me upstairs, I asked him if I should finish my afternoon weather feeds before going up. He said no. Again, I have no reason to believe that he was aware. Because of that, I promised Brian and Kurt that I would finish my TSN and KRLD midday weather feeds and slip out without anyone knowing what had just happened. As my brain was descending into a kind of crisis-fog, it didn’t occur to me that I was only the first “whackee”. It was a little more of a struggle but I recorded the last 5 pieces and logged off.
I almost kept that promise to slip out without anyone knowing, but I told Chris Schneider privately because I needed someone I could trust to look after my personal property in the Weather Center before it would be packed up for me. I have books, large maps, office supplies and mementos, along with 2 TVs I was donating to the station so we could replace some of the inop units we had been missing for months. As he is a Christian brother, he and I had a brief word of prayer there in my office right before I walked out for the last time. We both know this life is only a vapor and my career at KRLD is not the most important thing in my life. I have a great wife who has stuck with me 32 years, two great kids I’m extremely proud of, my health and an unbelievably supportive church family, plus the prettiest 2-year old girl in Collin County. My problems are few and small.
Kurt and I agreed on the phone that I will continue to do spots for the clients who’ve committed to annual rates until their contracts run out and I’ve fulfilled my obligations. I have no interest in burning any bridges at KRLD or CBS or causing any collateral damage, but you knew that already.
Brenda was not going to be home all day, having lunch with the girls in Allen, and I didn’t want you to find out second-hand, so I called her from the road first, then I called you. I talked with Mike last night on the Big Island.
I wish I could express my gratitude to the listeners publicly but we know that’s not how our business works. Bob Hathaway is the unretired champion and Neil Sperry takes my place as the second longest beard at KRLD.
For the record, my broadcasting career at KRLD lasted 31 years, 4 months and 3 days for which I am extremely grateful.”
My other “work husband”, Mark Watkins, spent the last 7 and 1/2 years at the station. We have history and most of it includes laughing so hard that stuff came out our noses. He is a walking thesaurus/encyclopedia/dictionary. I loved working alongside him because of his brain, and because we just cracked each other up so easily. (It makes bringing you bad news every day a little easier) He and I shared the anchor desk for years.
And today they are both out of work.
Out of work + in this recession + in the radio business = not a good combination.
But they are both supremely talented men who will undoubtedly find work very soon.