Recession Mama











–by Carlawbap

Some pretty strong storms blew through the Dallas/Fort Worth area a few hours ago, and it was so reassuring to hear a trusted voice back on the air, telling us where the storms were headed and what we should expect. Meteorologist Brad Barton, who had been on the air in Dallas for more than 30 years but was shockingly laid off two months ago from another news/talk station, made his return to the DFW airwaves today on WBAP News/Talk 820AM.

Having worked with Brad for more than a decade, I can tell you that he is once again where he belongs: behind a microphone, and in front of a weather radar. And the people of North Texas once again have a place to  turn when the skies darken.

We’ll be hearing from Brad, in his own words, very soon…so stay tuned!

A BIG “Congrats!” to Brad and Brenda and to WBAP for this wonderful news.

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{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.



{June 17, 2009}   Big = Expensive

By: Heather

 

Mamas and Papas,

 I love to take walks in my neighborhood. I like looking at all of the different architecture and landscaping of the homes. They’re really beautiful and BIG.

hp house

I used to wonder what it would be like living in a large home, filled with nice furniture, artwork, a pool and manicured lawn. I can now tell you it’s expensive. Really expensive!!!

willowood 055

We are blessed and fortunate enough to have our dream home. It  has everything we’ve ever wanted. I could walk a few blocks away and ask a very famous former Dallas Cowboys football player for a cup of sugar. But I imagine that his maid would slam the door in my face and call the police.  I can also show you Dick Cheney’s old crib.

Dick Cheney

 

 I’m not trying to brag. I just want to point out– be careful what you wish for. You just might get it… and then some. Along with all of the extras and the prestigious neighborhood comes high property tax and lots of expense.

taxes

Let me give you an example. Just last week we had two big storms in as many days. The kids, dogs and I hunkered down in the wine cellar while the tornado sirens blared. The power was out, the weather radio was missing and we had just one flashlight. I used my cell phone to track the weather while the kids watched “Kung Fu Panda” on the laptop . Ally, our 55 pound dog, sat on my lap and nervously panted in our faces. Bella, the 45 pound dog, took a nap under the bottles of Merlot. Storms do not phase her.

 Bella 001

“Gross Ally!” “Your breath is stinky!” my daughter chokes out.

“Mommy Ally is scared, Bella is brave and I’m smart.” My son remarks after declaring that “a meteorologist could tell us what’s happening if the power would just come back on.”

I admire his use of the word “meteorologist” and  pray that we’ll get through the storm without any damage.

Finally the power comes back on and the weather clears. The excitement is over. But the expensive repairs are approaching.

 smoke

 Just as we crawl in bed the fire alarm goes off and a smoke detector gets stuck in panic mode. 

 “Perfect!”

Lots of screaming and calming down later. I discover that I can’t reach the offended smoke detector, so I call for help. (my husband was stuck on a plane trying to get home)

“I don’t see any fire, so PLEASE don’t turn on the sirens.” I tell the fire department. “But I want to make sure my house doesn’t burn to the ground.” 

 cartoon truck

Firefighters and a cop show up about 45 seconds later (they’re located on the same block) with the lights flashing and the sirens singing. The neighbors come out to investigate.

“Mommy that fire truck is cool. Can I have one?”

“No.”

At least the firefighter is cute and cordial. The cop answers my curious son’s questions. 

They leave about 45 minutes later with an “all clear.” The smoke detector is now dangling from the ceiling, but at least it’s  quiet. 

This will require a call to the alarm company. And I begin to wonder how much this will cost.

The next morning it rains buckets and buckets. The streets flood, the power is out and more problems and more bad news knocks on our door.

“What’s that on the floor?” my sons asks as we watch the storm from the window.

“Water!” The roof, that was just repaired, is leaking onto the “fine” artwork.

We find another leak in a fireplace and the dollar signs start falling like the rain. Buckets and Buckets.

“Mommy if it keeps raining we’re going to turn into an OCEAN.” My son determines.

I call the roofer and the alarm company.

Finally the rain lets up, the sun begins to shine. But a dark money cloud settles over our house.

j0189255

A few hours later the roofer arrives and tells me that “leaves” are to blame for the leaking and that our chimney needs a cap.

Chimney’s wear hats?  I ponder to myself.

“How much will that cost?” I ask the roofer

“Not sure. We’ll have to get a number together,” he says.

This is never good.

The alarm company comes to the scene to replace the smoke detector and fix the alarm.

Problem solved. I write a check. 

But he recommends that I replace all of them. (There are more than I can count.)

“Why? Don’t they work?” I ask.

“Yes. But now they won’t match.”He says.

“We’ll live.” I assure him.

The AC guy, who had been previously scheduled, shows up to give me an estimate on replacing the unit in the pool cabana. (this is a problem unrelated to the storm.)

“By the way it’s hot in my bedroom. Can you check it first?”

“Sure.”

More problems… repairs will be needed. I prepare to write more checks and contemplate pouring myself a drink. I opt for coffee instead.

The pest control guy soon joins the party and tells me all is well.

“Finally!” “Something is going right.”

The ants in the pantry are history. Yeah. Everything else is fine…   EXCEPT he can’t  spray the cabana because it’s flooded.

“FLOODED!” More mopping… more money down the drain. I make a panicked call to a friend to bring over a wet vacuum.

What in the H-E-double-hockey-sticks is going on? My house is less than 10 years old.

Meanwhile, my 1941 fixer upper home is weathering the storm. No problem. 

I had slightly hoped a tornado would blow that old house away, but it stood tall and defiant. It has earned a make-over. (see post “Recession Rubble in the Bubble” for more on that.)

 

summer '09 001

We feel really fortunate to have a beautiful home and we really enjoy it. But WOW when it rains trouble it literally pours. There’s a LOT to maintain. Sometimes it feels like a full time job.

I’m still adding up the current maintenance and repairs… plus waiting for estimates. But I think we are looking at upwards of $10,000 to fix, repair and replace everything. I can’t blame the storm for all of the trouble either. Insurance won’t cover it either.

I’d just like to add that I’m pretty certain that whenever a company drives up to my address it automatically adds on 10 to 15 percent. It really irritates me. This is why I stay loyal to companies that do a good job, give me a good deal and are honest. 

Some people call our neighborhood “the bubble”” because life seems pretty idyllic here. It is pretty wonderful, so I don’t mean to complain. But trust me we’ve got trouble right here in River City too. And that starts with “T” and ends with “E”xpensive.

 price tag 



et cetera