Recession Mama

{August 7, 2009}   Sad News

–by Carla Marion

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.


–by Carla


I’m not exactly sure what Dave Grohl and the rest of the Foo Fighters are talking about in “My Hero”, but I love looking at him and I love me some Foo Fighters, oh and I do love the part of that song that goes: 

There goes my hero
Watch him as he goes
There goes my hero
He’s ordinary

A couple of ordinary heroes popped into my life recently and took some extraordinary steps to help me out. Two really unassuming people made my week and probably don’t even know it. I’ll tell you about my run-ins with Vanessa and Chris in a second, but why am I rambling about this and how in the world is it recession-related? I firmly believe that we’ve had a serious customer service issue in this country for a very long time. Gone are the days where the person at the check-out politely said to the customer, “Thank you for shopping with us…please come back to see us”, or something remotely close to that. Sure it still happens, but not at all like it used to when I was a kid and it hacks me off. If I’m spending my hard-earned money in your store, please acknowledge that fact and I’ll come back to see you. It’s not just the check-out, it’s those incredibly frustrating customer service calls with the recorded chick…you know the ones…they make us press 1 for English (um…why?) and 8 for this and 22 for who-knows-what…and by the time that damn recorded lady is done rattling off choices, I want to throw the phone out the window. And once you DO get someone, good luck. I will never forget the time I called to pay my XM bill over the phone and the kind gentleman with the thick Indian accent (he really was so sweet) told me that my total was “78-point-35”. “Point”? Seriously?


Vanessa was working as a receptionist at the rheumatologist’s office this week. I’d just popped in for follow-up blood work (you can apparently never be too young or too cool to possibly have rheumatoid arthritis, I’ve come to learn). But this “Just pop in, it’ll take a second” outing, turned into a 30 minute nightmare…while my Mom was home babysitting the boys. Twice I asked another receptionist how much longer she thought it might be, and after being told “Oh, Hun, any second now”, the other one, Vanessa, popped up out of her chair, tugged firmly on her scrubs and said, “I’ll do it. Come with me”. Not 4 minutes later, I had a Hello Kitty band aid on my arm and I was walking out the door. Vanessa had stepped up and gotten ‘er done when everyone else seemed to have passed the buck. 

Chris was my next hero the very next day. He was at a call center at a government agency (and that right there should give anyone the chills), and he stayed with me even after my mini-tantrum, and was able to help me unlike anyone in his office had in the past. He could have passed the buck and transferred me to other people but he didn’t. He stayed on the line with me, made a human connection with me and even shared a laugh or two with me. At the end of that 35 minute phone call, I felt like I’d been talking to an old friend. (It didn’t hurt that he was an old radio jock.)

My point is this: There are a bunch of us out there who need other people to help us get by right now…be it the customer service rep at the credit card company who is helping someone lower their rate or consolidate their debt, or the person on the other end of the phone at the mortgage company who is helping someone on the brink of foreclosure, or the customer service agent at the health insurance company working with a sick person who needs a little help with that massive pile of bills. I can’t think of any other time in our recent history when we have had to rely so much on customer service folks. It’s time for them to step up and shine. And it looks like actual heroes are being born…just like Vanessa and Chris.

And come on, we’re in a recession, if you’re in a position to interact with the buying public, BE NICE, you need our business. 

{May 27, 2009}   Feelin’ Confident

–by Carla


I recently caught myself thinking (or maybe daydreaming) that this recession was over, that we were all better and that we could all go about our business like nothing ever happened. I mean, it’s spring, the trees are green, flowers are blooming, the weather here in the Dallas area is amazing, I’m taking the boys to the park just about every single day…

...thanks for bringing me to the park, Mom!



...thanks for bringing me to the park, Mom!

…and I just got a pedicure. So, we’re all better, right?

I’m no economic brainiac, but I did hear the news this week that consumer confidence was up and that made Wall Street stand up and take note. Ok, fine…so we’re not completely out of the woods just yet, but doesn’t it kind of FEEL that way?

Think of it this way, when did our fancy, cozy, wonderful little bubble burst? Around October, right? SEVEN months ago. For a country with A.D.D, that’s a ridiculously long time. And then think of this: We were all completely freaked out by what had just happened with our money…


…It was fall, almost winter. No more green, lush leaves on the trees, no pretty flowers, no going out to play and frolic, no reason to get a pedicure. That sort of environment really messes with a person, don’t you think? I mean, it’s entirely possible that we had the economic equivalent of S.A.D., seasonal affective disorder. So have we just shaken it off and come out to play in the sun, or does the economy even work like that? In other words, does Main Street drive Wall Street, or is it the other way around? I really don’t know the answer to that. But if we THINK it’s getting better out there, maybe it really is. 

And hey, look, I know that not every American is in some sort of economic distress. But some ARE, and of those, some are worse off than others…and this occurred at every economic level. Along those lines, something hit me the other day while listening to “Funny The Way It Is” by the Dave Mathews Band. Just a little something to think about. Here’s just part of it:

Funny the way it is, if you think about it Somebody’s going hungry and someone else is eating out

Funny the way it is, nor right or wrong Somebody’s heart is broken and it becomes your favorite song 

Funny the way it is, if you think about it A kid walks 10 miles to school, another’s dropping out

Funny the way it is, nor right or wrong Oh, a soldier’s last breath and a baby’s being born

(It’s a crazy good song…you should check it out.)

I’m feeling this consumer confidence thing, I really am. I’m also thinking that maybe a little dose of sunshine and a ride on a tiny horse at the park is exactly what we need right now.

By: Heather

Hey mamas and papas. We’ve all been trying to figure out how to save a few bucks here and there. There are some obvious areas where you can cut back. But sometimes you can save TONS of money where you least expect it. You just have to get off your butt and do a little homework. (More after the jump)

Read the rest of this entry »

–By Carla


If you’re married, engaged to be married, ever thought about getting married, or if you’re divorced, remarried or alive at all, you already know this: love and money don’t always mix. Not all couples fight over money, but lots do. It’s no surprise, when you have two people coming together and merging not only their hearts, minds and bodies (hopefully…), but also their checking accounts, savings accounts, investments, views and expectations about money, good financial habits, bad financial habits, FICO scores…and so on. It’s hard enough to combine two totally separate lives under one roof…then throw money into the mix and you might as well throw gasoline NEAR the campfire.

The best advice I ever heard on the topic was to treat marriage like a business…something that romantic types are cringing at right now. There’s nothing romantic at all about that. It makes marriage sound terrible. Not the way I think about it, though. What happens when you start a business? You talk about money pretty much from the start. It’s not a secretive topic that never gets brought up or addressed. Can you imagine what THAT business meeting would be like?

But something funny happens when you mix your heart and finances. Not funny “ha-ha”, but funny odd. For me, growing up, money was used (at times) as a sign of love…not that I’m complaining. We’d go see Grandma a couple of times a week and she’d slip my brother and I a ten or a twenty dollar bill when we were really little and she’d say “shhh, don’t tell your mom and dad”. Ok, your secret is safe. The older we got, the bigger her gifts, like a new car at 16 for each of us. Maybe that was her way of showing us how much she loved us. (I don’t see anything wrong with that if you have the means and you are also grounded in other ways.) But you can imagine how difficult it was for me once I grew into adulthood and into adult relationships, realizing that not everyone did those things. I’m pleased to say I’m (mostly) over that little phase, but it was a bit of an adjustment.

How great would it be if — by law — every married couple had to hire a full-time Marriage CEO. That person would deal only with the financial aspect of the marriage, therefore taking all of the pressure off of the two lovebirds who could then focus solely on being nauseously fabulously in love and nothing else. You’d take your CEO places with you, like out to fancy dinners and when you got the check, you’d hand it over to your Marriage CEO and he’d give you a look like, “Um….you’re pushing it here”…and the waiter would say, “Who’s the random guy in the suit next to your wife, eating a PB&J?”… and you’d say, “that’s Oscar, our marriage CEO. Give him the check when we’re done.”

What a world that would be.

Hey, mama can dream, can’t she?

{April 13, 2009}   Recession Re-invention
The view from the roof of my loft

The view from the roof of my loft

Since Heather, Carla, and I launched this blog, officially, a week ago, I’ve gotten some questions and concerns about my work status. (Even my own mother has said she didn’t realize how many times I’ve been laid off and how incredibly depressing it is!) Well, let me assure everyone that I am working on a show, and I am not here to depress anyone. In fact, the opposite is true. I’m hoping to help and get help with living WELL in this recession.

I want to first explain that I have only been laid off (fo realz) once (the news job in D.C). But I’ve had to look for a new job about 11 times in the last five years. That’s because TV shows end. If I’m lucky, I’ll work on a show for an entire season or two because that show is doing well and has gotten picked up for an extra season . If I’m not lucky, or if I’m just working on a pilot, that show will end in a month or two. Believe it or not, even though I’ve had to look for work 11 times, I’ve only been out of work for only 3 or 4 months in the last five years.

Here’s what I’ve learned from constantly changing jobs:

  • I really enjoy it, and it’s not for everyone. I used to be commitment-phobic. Now, when other people (usually guys) say they’re commitment-phobic, they’re usually telling a girl that they’re not that into them. For me, from the ages of 22-30, I couldn’t commit to cities, jobs, OR boyfriends. During those eight years, I moved NINE times, lived in 8 different cities, and had maybe 8 boyfriends (well… I don’t know if I’d quite call them boyfriends but there I go again with not really committing to them). Well, you get the point. Being a freelance producer fits my personality to a tee. I am a super hard worker, but I do get bored easily. As a TV producer, I am never bored. I’m doing something different every single day. TV is perfect for the A.D.D. personality. And… since I am freelance, I always have the option of moving on to the next show. Now, Fiance, if you’re reading this… I am not commitment-phobic anymore. I have lived in Los Angeles for six years now, and I actually do want stability. That’s why I bought a loft a year ago. Having a mortgage is a BIG responsibility and makes me want to have more of a full-time job… but this is also why I’ve saved up a year’s worth of expenses and why I’m thinking of postponing the wedding. It’s also why I’ve paid off my credit card debts awhile ago, which takes me to the second thing I’ve learned…

  • You do need an emergency savings and not rely on credit cards. It’s too difficult to pay off those cards once you’re working again. And c’mon, when you’re working… don’t you want every penny to belong to you and not to some credit card company? The interest on those cards add up pretty quickly. If you charged a burger on a credit card and didn’t pay off that card for a year…you’ll end up paying something like $100 for that burger! Better be the BEST burger in the world, huh? (If you’re trying to get rid of c.c. debt, read my last post or check out Suze Orman’s site. She has a great system that helped me too.)

  • Network. It may seem like an easy thing to say, but since I’ve started working in entertainment, I have never gotten a job without being recommended by someone else. I’ve never just applied for a position and gotten it. I’ve landed a couple of interviews without knowing anyone, but eventually, they seem to just go with someone they know. And just in case you were wondering, networking goes both ways. If someone helps me, I’m more than likely to help them. I also love having mentors, and I love mentoring. But I don’t always know when someone needs a job so it’s important to put it out there. It’s really no shame to be out of work. Work is work. It shouldn’t be who you are. And if you think you’re not good at networking, take another look at how you network. It’s about establishing relationships, not perfecting small talk or winning a popularity contest. I like to network with good people whom I’d like to be friends with anyway, which makes it easy to ask if they want to go to lunch, have a drink, or send a resume to their boss.

  • Re-invention. This recession, for me, is all about re-invention. Madonna is the mother of re-invention, and it’s really the reason why she still sells out stadiums. With my first lay-off as a national radio news anchor, I had to figure out what I really wanted to do. Within the last five years and a dozen jobs later, I’ve had to learn and adapt to new technology and ways of thinking. I am learning all of the time, and reinventing ways of becoming a better, more efficient producer/writer. Now, I have also never understood people who complain about their jobs. I’ve always thought that if you really hated your job, you should quit. If you were laid off from a job you hated anyway, I think this is the perfect opportunity to find what you truly love and what you are truly meant to do with your life. It’s such a cliche by now that it’s always the most fulfilling to have a job that you would do for free…but it’s so true. Think of this lay-off as a blessing. If you have kids, you can now spend more time with them. If you’ve always wanted to be a stained-glass maker, you can learn how! I have a friend who went to massage school when she thought she was getting laid off because it’s something she’d always wanted to do. Several friends applied to law school, and another friend is starting her own business. Think about what you’ve always wanted to do. What do other people tell you you’re really good at? Write down your thoughts, dreams, fears, and goals. Put together a game plan, a business proposal, or just go for it. I’m trying it out, and I believe my dream and yours will all come true.

et cetera