Many news people work under contracts, especially the people that are on air. The contracts are typically two or three years for a reporter or weekend anchor/weekday reporter. That’s why sometimes it seems very sudden when a local news person disappears from a station. Two or three years just really isn’t that long. It’s just enough time for you to become familiar with that person… perhaps even grow to really enjoy watching them. Then, they get snatched away by a higher market or a better paying job outside of the industry.
That is not what happened to me. My two and a half year contract as a weekend weather anchor ended…. I looked for a job…. turned down a few I didn’t feel would be a good fit… and then took the risky plunge into unemployment.
I have an agent. He’s well known in the industry and well liked by many of his clients. He’s continued to help seek opportunities for me. I will argue that although he is a nice guy, I don’t feel he’s done his nine percent of my salary’s worth of work. Since I chose to leave my job, a month ago, I have gone on two interviews. These news directors have paid to fly me to their city, stay in a hotel and discuss with them and other employees why I would or would not be a good fit for their team. My agent did not get me these interviews. They were all me.
Perhaps the reason television news is a small industry, is because it is a dying industry. Those two job interviews I secured were through friends I had worked with in the past. I simply texted them and asked if there were openings where they worked and they directed me to their bosses. Almost as simple as the 80 online applications I have filled out for similar positions that I have never been contacted about.
As I write this, I have two job offers on the table from those two interviews. Two news directors waiting for my response. Earlier this afternoon I turned down a third that was offered to me over the phone… the station did not have the budget to fly me out for an official interview. The amount of money the news director at this particular station offered me was low and a little bit depressing. The money barely above what I had been making in the same job 40 markets lower. It was easy to say no to the ‘opportunity.’
The two offers I am considering are starkly different. A station in a mid sized market wants to me to be the weekday morning weather forecaster. Those morning gigs are somewhat sought after in this industry as you get off at noon everyday. The other offer is one I had been hoping for and waiting patiently to hear about. A top 30 market reporter position. But the amount of money offered was substantially less than I expected.
Both of these were once coveted jobs. Jobs that five years ago, someone with my level of experience would not even be considered for. Rewind ten years ago and these jobs also would’ve paid quite a bit more.
Sometime this week I will make a decision. Then I will drive to my new city, rent a cheap apartment and furnish it with craigslist finds in the hopes of making it ‘feel like home.’
Both positions will keep me on a tight and uncomfortable budget for the next 2 or 3 years of my life. On top of normal expenses, I have to pay my agent, and for one job I would have to go back to school online on my own dime. (I am also still paying off my first student loans from my bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism.)
Why do it? Why move across the country to take a low paying job with unpredictable hours that will keep you paying off loans for the rest of your life?
Because between all the bullshit… it’s a job that can be extremely fun and extremely rewarding. I guess that’s why I keep grinding.