Stress has replaced the fun in radio

Steve Kowch blog photoFrom where I sit On The Kowch, I’ve been spending a lot of time lately on the phone with people in radio who are stressed out about losing their jobs in the next round of budget cuts.  Since I was shown the door four years ago, some 3,000 people in radio and TV have been terminated across Canada!

The Canadian Media Guild conducted a study between 2008 and 2013 on job losses in media. They estimate 7,000 people working in newspapers and 3,700 people in radio  and TV have lost their jobs in the past five years.

The Guild says data was compiled from major Canadian news sources, industry publications, social media feeds, La Presse Canadienne, Radio -anada and the J-Source blog. Their report on job losses in Canadian broadcasting starts with a cautionary statement that reads: “There are likely others that were not reported or were not covered in the sources that we were able to access, but this should give an overview  of the trends in the industry.

Click here to read the Guild Report that lists job cuts month by month in broadcasting between November 2008 and August 2013. It’s not a pretty picture. It’s even scarier in newspapers where twice as many jobs have been lost.

Dr. Robert L. Leahy is the director of the American Institute for Cognitive Therapy. His latest book, Keeping Your Head After Losing Your Job: How to survive unemployment deals with the mental anguish people go through after losing their job. Leahy has worked with many unemployed people over the years, and his successful techniques draw upon Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), as well as practices such as mindfulness, to help people boost their self-esteem and confidence, decrease anxiety and feelings of helplessness, and develop resilience and strength.

The first two paragraphs of his book sums up what everyone goes through when they go home to tell their family they’ve lost their jobs. Been there done that and I suspect so have the 3,700 other people who lost their job in radio since 2008.

“You have lost your job and find yourself sinking into the depths of painful and confusing feelings. You may feel that this is one of the worst times in your life. Going home to tell your family that you are out of work is the most difficult experience that you have ever had. You feel embarrassed, you feel you have let them down, you feel your world is crashing down on you. No longer leaving home to go to work, you sit alone, the hours drag on, then the days, and then the endless weeks out of work. You have nowhere to go.

“You find yourself dwelling on your situation and think, ‘I never thought this would happen to me’. Often you find yourself alone with your thoughts and feelings, not knowing when you will get out of this, not knowing if you ever will get a job you like. You worry about your finances, and what your friends and family think, and you feel embarrassed telling people that you are not working. You are angry, confused, anxious and depressed. At times, you even wonder if this could be really true. If you are unemployed, you are not alone.”

From where I sit On The Kowch, there are days I say to myself that Astral did me a favour when they let me go.  From what people tell me who still have a job in radio, it’s not as much fun as it used to be. Guess it’s pretty hard to have fun when you’re worried about losing your job.

Steve Kowch was program director of two of Canada’s largest newstalk radio stations for 14 years

He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Making It BIG in Media

He can be reached at