I have debated for several days about whether or not I should jump into the fray so to speak about the recent layoffs, dismissals or whatever term you want to use regarding the termination of nine employees at WTVC-TV last week. Since I know as much as anyone about what happened to my friends Dave Staley, John Madewell and Erin Thomas, I have decided to give my perspective. You see, the same thing happened to me in 2009. I came in for a meeting one day and found that I was going to be laid off after 15 years with WRCB-TV...sent to the streets with no job at the age of 58. It didn't just happen to me. It happened to sportscasters all over the country at the same time. It was almost as if all the TV stations had gotten together and said, "We can save money by eliminating our sports guys and hiring younger people to do their job for much less money."
I'm not telling this story to sound bitter.
Really, I am not bitter about what happened. I decided years ago to take the high road and, while I was hurt and saddened by what happened, I hold no grudges. I am still friends with the people at WRCB, even the ones who were responsible for my termination. Life is too short to walk around hanging your head and cursing those whom you feel wronged you. I decided to try some other things in life such as things I had not been able to do while working on the air at Channel 3.
It took a while to get a job that I felt comfortable with. Starting a new career at 58 years old is not an ideal situation, but what choice did I have? I had gotten a degree in education and I decided to finally use it. I taught school as a media concepts teacher for five years before retiring in 2015. I also became an umpire for high school baseball and softball games and made a lot of new friends that I would have otherwise not made if I had stayed in television. I started writing for the chattanoogan.com
in 2012 and I also remained in TV for a while doing freelance work as a play-by-play announcer. The bottom line is this: I thoroughly enjoyed my new careers.
Dave, John and Erin, I know you've been told, "When God closes a door, he opens a window." I know you've heard that before and it's absolutely true. You will be fine. The few minutes each day that you were on television in no way defined you as a person. Take this opportunity to find a new calling.....one that will make you happy and fill your life with purpose. It's out there. Just trust in God to help you find it.
As for the Sinclair Communications Company, shame on you for the way you do business. There simply has to be a better way of managing your employees. To terminate people who had a strong track record for doing excellent work over a long period of time is just wrong. I hope Karma pays you a visit really soon.
Randy Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org