Picture this. You live in a city your whole life. You root for the local sports teams. You listen to the local sports radio station. You dream of working there. You get the job and then…WHAM. The station goes off the air. Circumstances beyond your control lead you down a road of uncertainty and despair.
As it was famously put in Godfather II, “This is the business we have chosen.”
For better or worse, these things tend to happen and they’ve been happening all across the country. It’s happened to me several times, through no fault of my own, I found myself in a state of confusion, anger, sadness and hope, all at the same time. It’s a terrible feeling.
In San Diego, the longest running sports station in America’s Finest City, and its highest rated, the Mighty 1090 has gone silent. A dispute between the owners of their transmitter tower in Mexico and the station caused the former to pull the plug. Leaving a lot of very good and talented people wondering what will happen to them and the station they love.
It’s a station I was associated with, during my time with the Padres in San Diego. I grew very fond of the vibe of the station. Many who are there are still friends of mine and I feel for them having gone through this before.
The swiftness of this decision is leaving a lot to the imagination. Darren Smith, host of the Midday show on 1090, along with his co-hosts, Marty Caswell and Jordan Carruth, reached listeners via social media with an audio “message” in the form of a nearly 22-minute explanation of the situation.
“We are wondering if this is it for the Mighty 1090”, said Smith who has been with the station since its inception in 2003. “There’s not a lot of optimism about our future as a sports radio station. It’s heartbreaking. There are people who are in tears at this radio station. There are people who have genuine and sincere fears about their own futures about health benefits and bill paying and it sucks. Everything about this today is miserable.”, said Smith.
From a management standpoint, the situation had been known for a bit. But it came to an ugly head Wednesday. “We have lost our connection in Mexico and are working to get this resolved,” said Mike Glickenhaus of JMI-owned Broadcast Companies of America.
So, what now? For those that may be out of work soon, it can be a scary and exciting situation at the same time. Leaving what’s familiar is scary, but what may lie ahead can be terrific.
This isn’t the first time something like the 1090 situation has happened. In February of 2007, Sporting News Radio moved from Chicago to Los Angeles. Employees were given the chance to go with the network to the West Coast. The company was offering only a 3 percent “cost of living” increase to move almost 2000 miles. Many turned it down, including a couple of people in executive positions at stations around the country.
Matt Nahigian was the PD of Sporting News and after the move, he found work in Philadelphia at 97.5 The Fanatic in the same capacity. He has now relocated to San Francisco at 95.7 The Game.
Tony DiGiacomo, worked at Sporting News as well and was among the many not moving to the coast. He’s now the Program Director at WFNZ, in Charlotte. He recalled vividly the feelings of receiving the news of impending unemployment.
“When we were notified that Sporting News Radio would be moving to Los Angeles from Chicago, and that we had to accept the move or take a severance, it was a punch to the gut. Heartbreak, in a way.”, he said. “The uncertainty of your future sinks in real quick. Especially for those of us who love the format and know we have a lot more to offer it. It’s a passion that unless it leaves you, it’s scary to face what could be next.”
Dustin Rhoades was an Executive Producer at the network and also didn’t go to LA. He eventually landed at 670 The Score in Chicago as the EP of the Mully and Haugh morning show. But the road was long.
“I thought I was fine. I had 26 weeks of severance. I thought 26 weeks would be enough time to find a job in the market, but it wasn’t.”, said Rhoades in the hallway of the Illinois Media School where he is also an instructor. “I was delivering pizzas and selling “pull tabs” at a Bingo Parlor. About a year later, I found work at ‘Talk Radio Network’ as producer for a show and within 2 and half years after that, the Score came after me and I’ve been there ever since.”, added Rhoades.
In the meantime, for San Diego sports fans, the station is only available through the 1090 app and on the station’s website.
Should management have made a plan “B” since it was rumored this may happen months ago? Yes.
What is it about the company in Mexico that is pushing them to remove a beloved station from the market? I don’t know.
What I do know is it would be great to see the two sides reach an agreement so that the Mighty 1090 can live on. Now, careers, lives and families are being impacted by something that seemingly could have been avoided.
I wish nothing but the best to all my friends at the Mighty 1090, I hope there can be a solution implemented to keep you all on the air in San Diego.