Recession Mama











–by Carla Marion

The dark clouds over Dallas/Fort Worth didn’t seem so threatening on Tuesday for those of us who heard that wonderfully reassuring voice on the radio again. Sure, it was a different frequency, but the voice hadn’t changed a bit. Here, meteorologist Brad Barton fills us in on what’s been going on…and shares the exciting news:

brad

Carla,
 
Here’s an update on what’s happened in the two months since I was dismissed from CBS.  It’s been an exciting time.   
 
First, Brenda and I are grateful for every act and expression of kindness from the management and staff at KRLD, many others of all stripes and our Bethel Methodist Church family in Southlake and throughout Texas.  The comments and best-wishes are again, just heartwarming. Carla, Don, Ed Spencer, Jason Sickles and Steve Blow of the Dallas Morning News, you have helped us more than I can ever express.  And I must thank God for his faithful and providential care. 
Case in point:  Although our prized Blue Bird Wanderlodge had been on the market for over a year, we really needed to sell it after I was laid off.  Just one month later, on Labor Day, a couple in California who thought the coach was already sold, found it again, called us, agreed on a price and wired the money within 24 hours.   
 
As for employment, I have begun a new business known as WeatherTrust to deliver syndicated weather forecasts and other content to various clients. 
 
My websites are coming on line now, including
http://www.brads-weather.com, bradsweather.com, weatheroncall.com and others.  The main point of my website is to alert you by phone of severe weather in your area, then give you a link to click to hear live streaming storm coverage as I’ve done on the radio.  Soon, your  internet-capable phone will be your emergency weather link wherever you are- in your car, at your kids’ soccer game or in your closet when the power goes out at the height of the storm.     

I’ve also had a couple meetings with corporations both in and out of media to discuss some very interesting ideas.   
 
But the crowning jewel of the past two months has been a plan quietly formulated by Tyler Cox to bring me on board as the new Chief Meteorologist of WBAP.  Since 1922, WBAP has been a perennial leader in all of its chosen formats.  And beyond the richness of its past, the WBAP of today still has principled leadership that appreciates talent and loves broadcasting, not just the profits that come from broadcasting. Just to be a part of one of the eight most powerful, influential and honored radio stations in America is a privilege few people will ever know.  To be entrusted with weather coverage where the legendary Harold Taft once held court, is an honor and solemn responsibility that I take very seriously.  I am humbled and extremely grateful.  And I already feel at home.  Since the deal was kept secret for some time, it was a surprise to most people at WBAP, and a shock to Hal Jay, whose look was just priceless.    

The next time the skies turn dark, just remember, I’m right here in Weather Center 820.  The weather leader in North Texas radio is WBAP.

Brad, this makes me just want to stand up and cheer!

On a personal note, I am filled with joy that you have a new radio home …and what an amazing home it is. (I am beyond thrilled to be a back-up, fill-in anchor at WBAP.)

What a small and crazy world.



–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.



{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 Katy

California coastline

California coastline

By now, you all know that I live in Southern California, and although my heart will always be in Texas (where I grew up) and my head is always in New York (where I went to school and learned to dream big)…California is now home (for almost 10 years now!). It’s an amazing place with incredible ocean views, miles of beaches, mountains, and of course, great weather. But there are two things I do not like about this enormous state — traffic and the annual fight over the budget. I am not going to even get into the traffic situation, since this site isn’t called why-the-heck-isn’t-there-better-public-transportation-in-los-angeles.com. But I am going to discuss the state budget. Now, indulge me. I am not delving into politics. The annual fight in California over the budget isn’t even a left-right issue anymore. Currently, we have the govern-ator, and he’s a so-called “Republican.” Prior to Arnold Schwarzenegger, we had Gray Davis, a so-called Democrat. And nothing has changed when it comes to the budget because it can’t be passed with a simple majority. Instead, there is a 2/3rds vote requirement in order to pass the budget. 2/3rds! When have you seen politicians agree on anything? Only two other states have a 2/3rds majority rule. No wonder there is a financial crisis every year around passing the state budget. Even when we were not in a recession, California legislators have had difficulties passing a budget.

That’s an MSNBC report and interview with California’s Lt. Governor John Garamendi. He is a Democrat, and we all know MSNBC leans a little left…just like the Fox leans a lot right. But you can get somewhat of an idea of what I’m talking about. I mean California is in BIG trouble. The state is near bankruptcy, and they’ve even suspended payment on some people’s tax returns! Now, if that was me, and I wasn’t getting paid back what I was owed…I’d be on the doorstep of my legislator and demanding that money! I’m also disappointed at what the Governor is talking about cutting — money for education, health care, and programs for people well below the poverty line. He’s also proposed shutting down 220 state parks. I know that parks seem frivolous…but for people who do not have much…parks are free entertainment! Parks are places where any child can play, regardless of their parents’ incomes. And do you know how much park rangers make? Maybe the legislators who are making these decisions should really lower their salaries to what park rangers make, and perhaps that could help alleviate some of our budget shortfalls.

But here’s the real reason why I’m writing all of this: I think the way some politicians (left, right, and center) are dealing with California’s state budget is exactly how most people have dealt with their household finances. So if I want change in the government, I need to change the way my own finances are being handled, right? We all know that most couples fight about money. How many times have you and a significant other started out balancing a checkbook and ended it with a fight? And how many times have you just given up or decided that just one person should handle the household finances? Well, that’s what’s happening all over, and nowhere is it more apparent than in California. I think it’s important for there to be a CEO, or CFO, in a household. Carla mentions this idea in a previous post. One person should be the one to be in charge of the ins and the outs of cash flow, balancing the checkbook, and even paying the bills. I guess the lawmaker equivalent would be a state comptroller. But I do think it’s important for everyone in the household to know what is going on…complete transparency…from parents to children…everyone should know about how major financial decisions are being made and how that affects each member of the household. This way, no one can say they didn’t know. It also would help everyone to work together on a common goal — whether that’s saving up for a house, car, or college education. It would also make me think twice before I bought something because my money is not just my money anymore. Instead, it now belongs to the entire family, and everyone is counting on that money for the roof over their heads, for the food on the table, and for the gas in the car that we drive in the traffic filled streets of Los Angeles.

Looks pretty here, but it's not pretty when you're sitting in traffic.

Looks pretty here, but it's not pretty when you're sitting in traffic.



{April 29, 2009}   …Are We There Yet?

–by Carla

pool-0011

I’m looking out the window right now and I’m actually really enjoying this rainy weather. Seriously. It’s probably a Texas thing. “Will it just rain or will a tornado come out of the sky and force me into my closet?” Always keepin’ you on your toes, Texas weather. Then a thought hit me. Well a few thoughts, really. First I thought, “Our backyard looks really beautiful”. Everything is green and things are starting to warm up out there which means pool season is just about here. My next thought was “Ok, I’m tired of the rain…bring on the sun”. Call it a short attention span, call it my totally undiagnosed ADD, but I am over this rain (which is supposed to stick around all week. Lovely). And with that short attention span…how can I possibly weather the financial storm we’re in right now? It’s been 4 and 1/2 months since I was laid off and my attitude about our new, trimmed down lifestyle is still pretty upbeat, but how long is that going to last? I actually worried about that today…because I’m a woman and we worry…it’s what we do…while doing everything else. So I started looking around for answers as to when the recession will end and more to the point, when I will be able to re-hire my housekeeper.  Well….

Hmmmm, that’s not so upbeat. But I can deal with that. Then news of the swine flu starts spreading like, well, swine flu and things just got a little worse:

D’oh!

All I need is a little information on when this is all going to wrap up. That way I can program my little brain like an alarm clock, suffer through get through the next few/several months as best as I can with a giant smile on my face…counting down the days to when I can call Suzanne up and say “So, can you make it on Thursday just like old times?” I keep putting off mopping the floor because in the back of my mind I’m thinking, “It’ll end soon. Don’t mop now, Suzanne will be here to help you any day now.” Pathetic. I know. Yet there’s the mop, mocking me 24 hours a day…

mop

This all feels a little familiar to me. I’m going to make a confession that will no doubt make me sound spoiled AND rotten. Here goes: This feels a little like being grounded. Remember that feeling? Mom and Dad wouldn’t let you watch TV for a week, or they’d snatch the car keys from you for 2 weeks. You made due for the time being…you stayed inside, didn’t go anywhere…maybe you read a few more books or thumbed through a few magazines…but you killed time. You told your little brain that “this will end…you’ll be getting the car back in 6 days, 20 hours and 7 minutes”…and it felt really good knowing that there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Oh and you learned a lesson and stopped doing whatever it was that you were doing that got you grounded in the first place. Then one day ..BOOM…you got your keys back…hopped in the car and you were off like a prom dress.

And yes, I do realize that my current economic reality is directly linked to my actions of a spender versus a saver. I get it. I’m grounded. Thankfully, I can come and go as I please and don’t have to check in with Mom and Dad. But I’m starting to think that the recession isn’t going to end “just like that”….in the snap of a finger. I’m guessing that this new, trimmed down lifestyle will just become my actual lifestyle. That’s perfectly fine, too. I would just like to know which way to program the old brain here.

The great news is that there are ways to stay happy in tough economic times. We get it straight from a few happiness researchers.

And knowing that there are happiness researchers out there working hard to figure out how to make us happy at a time like this, well that right there just plain makes me happy. At least they’re not studying up on the bad habits of the ho-fish…



By Katy

Beverly Hills Courthouse

Beverly Hills Courthouse

After I wrote about recession-proofing a marriage and, more specifically recession-proofing a wedding…I got a lot of mixed reactions. So I sent some e-mails to wedding vendors who were looking to get my business (and had e-mailed me first). I told them that I was possibly considering getting married next year, instead of this year because of the recession and that I wanted to have more money saved up. I was hoping for a few e-mails offering me some deals. But instead, here’s a more typical response from the ones I got.

“I do understand your dilemma that you posted at the bottom, about whether or not to get married this year and the deals. Something else to keep in mind – a lot of properties go through annual pricing review and prices often increase a bit at the beginning of each new year. Mostly to go along with the general increase of the cost of goods.”

Yikes! That’s obviously what I don’t want. Another “vendor” who had spammed me with e-mails had this to say about a wedding…

“Katy, with homes prices finally within reach, interest rates at 4.5%, $8,000 buyers tax credit and our cash back rebate of thousands of dollars – why not elope or at least modify wedding costs – and set a goal to buy a home together sooner? I invite you and your fiance to meet with us for a free homebuying plan.”

I don’t know how he got my e-mail, but dude, I already own a home…an awesome loft in downtown Los Angeles. (If you actually read this blog like I asked you too, you would know that.) On the other hand, eloping IS something I’ve considered. (Although, my mother might not like that, since I’m her only daughter and the ONLY one of my generation to get married.) And that’s kind of how another wedding vendor felt about the possibility of my fiancé and I eloping:

“I cannot tell you how many times I hear that and I understand your feelings. It’s a personal preference if you want pictures with Elvis or pictures with your flower girl…? We have a great location that can’t compare to the desert – we’re the beach! Great weather, beautiful sunsets – what more could you ask for! Let me know if I can help and we’ll see if we can pull something together for you.”

Hmmm…what does the desert have anything to do with it? And to be honest, I like Elvis better than flower girls. I won’t be having any of those in my wedding. If I elope, it will be at the Beverly Hills Courthouse. And I think I can safely say that Elvis has definitely left that building.



et cetera