WTMJ Radio Firings

Tuesday March 29th, 2011 – Fox Lake, IL

The grim reaper of radio must be working on commission. I’ve never seen a business so bound and determined to fire its people en masse with such cold heartedness. I’ve had my own name called five times in four time zones, and every one has been ice cold and ugly.

Today the ax fell at AM 620 WTMJ in Milwaukee with twin casualties – morning news co-anchor John Jagler and evening sports talk host Bill Michaels. I never met John Jagler but I have briefly crossed paths with Bill Michaels. Either way, I can feel for them both.

They both had meetings in which an office door was closed, and within scant minutes a member of management recited a few well oiled clichés informing both of them they’d be no longer working at the station. There was paperwork to fill out, and then each one had to go clean out a work area which took years to accumulate piles of paper, junk and trash.

Time began to slow down as they filled a makeshift box with years of memories pulled from desk drawers and their entire tenure at the station flashed in front of their eyes. They fought back tears, and it became a surreal situation that this was indeed the end of the line at a place they’d come to the point of taking for granted. But in an instant, it was all gone.

Each one had to have security walk them to the door, and they had to be completely out of the building within an hour or two. Other employees heard about it and a few may have come over to say good bye, but more stayed away until it was over because they all know they could be next. Both guys loaded their cars, and left the parking lot for the last time.

Does any radio person really deserve to get treated like that? I seriously doubt it. They’d been showing up for years, and became part of the furniture. They’re people, just trying to make a living like anyone else. The company has a lot of other stations, couldn’t someone try to find them a job somewhere else or at least give a heads up a few weeks beforehand?

Nope. That would make too much sense. That would be ‘nice’ and human rather than a calculating heartless execution that’s completely uncalled for, but happens all the time at all kinds of stations coast to coast. That’s how that business is, and it stings to the bone.

The same thing happened to Phil Cianciola at WTMJ a while back. I always thought he was extremely talented and should be handed the afternoon shift when Jonathan Green’s tenure came to an end. They humiliated him too, and kudos to him for fighting back with his own pod cast. Still, I think all of those guys should have a job. They’ve all earned it.

I know business is business and all that, but we’re all humans too. Couldn’t the station try to sit down and help them relocate and continue their lives after dedicating a chunk of it to the station? To me this would be a no brainer, but I guess that’s why I’m still fired.

Not that it means much coming from me, but my heart goes out to those guys. I’ve been where they are and it’s not fun. Radio is what it is, and I wish all the best to both of them.


2 Responses to “WTMJ Radio Firings”

  1. John Says:

    Great insight. Remember it doesn’t just happen in the radio business. This has become an unfortunate part of the world of work and it stinks. What’s especially bothersome is WHO gets to make these decisions. Nothing personal but it’s important to remember that the fellow calling the shots at WTMJ today was once hired as an intern by Jon Green and owes a great deal of his success to a number of the people he’s fired. Too many people like him make us pray that “what goes around comes around” is a promise not a prayer.

    • dobiemaxwell Says:

      Hi John,

      Thanks for your response. Yes, great points all. Steve Wexler was an intern and now he’s the king of the hallways at TMJ. Amazing. The whole radio biz is in an uproar, as is the working world as you say. I’m sorry it happens like that, there’s no good reason for it.

      I appreciate you reading my blog. If you’d like a copy of my comedy CD, send me an address and I’ll ship one out as my gift of thanks. I’ll be working at Potawatomi Casino on April 23rd, also. If you ever see my name, let me know you’re coming and I’ll leave tickets for you. My email is dobiemaxwell@aol.com. FYI.

      Thanks again,


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