Drama in Radioland: Shaking Things Up a Bit (6/21/19)
Because I love to write but haven't had much time to do so, I decided to combine one of my passions with my responsibilities. This is an entirely fictitious work, and any resemblance to to real people are purely coincidental. I present to you "Drama in Radioland."
The tension in the air was a brick wall hitting newcomers to the meeting.
"Conference room at 9:30 for a special announcement."
That’s all the email stated. Yet, it was sent to all employees.
"Who's getting fired?"
“I bet we’ve been sold.”
“I wonder how the new owners will be. Will they keep us all or get rid of us and get a whole new staff?”
“Maybe we haven’t been sold. Maybe we’re getting a new manager.”
The rumblings ahead of the big announcement were full of speculation; but one thing was for certain: a change was coming!
Like an alarm in human form at exactly 9:30 a.m., Media to the Max CEO Jesalyn McLauren’s voice came ringing through as she cut through those standing in the doorway and around the walls of the conference room.
“Good morning! So great to see you guys!”
Most sitting at the table conjured up nervous smiles and attempted to exchange pleasantries, but they all felt the same way. This couldn’t be good. Jess NEVER came into the market unless something was wrong.
All eyes were on Jess. An average-height, caramel colored woman, she appeared six feet tall… a result of her tan platform heels. While most professionals looked the part in slacks and shirts with collars, Jess was different. Her light-washed skinny jeans and plain white tank were “dressed up” by her mango blazer and sparkly jewelry. She wore her hair in the most luxurious twist-out. It exuded confidence but was far from the norm in her field. On her face was the warmest smile, but in this line of business, smiles meant absolutely nothing.
“I know you all are wondering why I’m here….”
“Well, I’ve decided to sell the Media to the Max…..” Sighs were heard all around. “…to you guys.”
Jess continued, “Media to the Max has been a very profitable venture for me, but I recognize that you guys are the reason I’m so successful. Over the past 10 years, I’ve accumulated a nice stash, I’ve taken exotic vacations, I have a comfortable home, a vacation home, and other rental property. For those of you who don’t know my story, I come from a single parent home. My dad did the best he could for us after our mom decided she wanted a different life from the family she’d created with our dad. As the oldest girl, I took on the responsibility of managing our household. Dad was the main breadwinner, and I did the cooking and cleaning. When I was 17, I started making graphics for my high school news team. I also did the voice overs for different school productions. I didn’t know it then, but that was the beginning of Media to the Max.” As she spoke, Jess made eye contact with everyone. It seemed as if she made it a point to talk directly to some of the less-paid team members, so as to say I see you.
“Here’s where I’m different from most CEOs… I actually care about my people. I don’t take your dedication lightly. I actually came to town a month ago. I stayed for a week. I listened to you guys on the air and rode by the different places you said you’d be. I also brought with me my list of addresses and drove by each of your homes.”
A few people shifted in their seats.
“What I saw was a reminder of who I am and from where I’ve come. Seeing Dan toss the ball with his son as the sun set made me smile. I drove by Lamiah’s house at the perfect time, too. She was teaching her daughter to ride her bike. The little girl fell. I slowed my car enough to watch while Lamiah picked her up, kissed her scrape, and put her right back on the bike. I also saw Tyrone sitting at his dining table sipping from his glass while Justin raked his leaves out front.”
Mouths dropped open and eyes darted between the general manager and the zealous intern who was willing to do almost anything to get his foot in the door. We all saw him washing Tyrone’s car and bringing his dry cleaning into his office, but raking the man’s yard was just TOO MUCH!
“Justin, if you’ll agree, I’d like you to be my market assistant. This means I’ll keep you on retainer and let you know when I’m coming into the market, and you’ll just help me do what I need to do while I’m there.”
The corners of Justin’s mouth went from ear to ear. He almost couldn’t contain his excitement. Everyone in the room congratulated him with their mouths, but their eyes and body language said something entirely different. They were all visibly upset, but none more than Tyrone. His nose flared, sweat arising from its pores as he breathed heavily but remained silent.
Jess continued, “For the rest of you, here’s where things change. Those with base salaries will continue to collect those. Forty-five percent of every sale will be collected by the company to cover overhead. Air talent will still be paid for appearances and remotes, but they no longer have to go through salespeople. If they secure the deal, they will keep their fees, which will be subtracted from the total amount of the deal and then the 55 percent of the remaining amount. There’s no sense in paying people who don’t actually do the work.”
The talent couldn’t believe what they were hearing. Could Jess actually hear their thoughts? Were there hidden mics in the building? Had she listened in on private conversations?
Meanwhile, the salespeople were LIVID! How dare she come in and shake things like this? They wondered how she figured they had time to cultivate relationships and pursue new business. She HAD TO KNOW that the public trusted the talent. So, it was easier for the talent to pass off prospective business to them so they could be paid, too!
Jess gave one final smile. “So, there you have it. No more bonuses. No more abuse…” All eyes went to Tyrone. “No more exploitation. From now on, you get what you earn. Good day, everyone.”
Everybody poured from the conference room, talking among themselves. Justin walked Jess to her convertible Ferrari and hopped into the passenger seat. Tyrone sat at his desk and watched them leave. Who did Jess think she was? He was going to show her.
"I'm not staying around for this circus," whispered Marie, the senior salesperson.
"Well, where are you going to go?" asked Agitha.
"I don't know, but I don't like where this is headed," Marie replied.
"I don't see the big deal. I mean, who can beat a 55 percent commission? That just doesn't happen!" exclaimed Renee.
"I know. And that's what I mean. WHO would pay a 55 percent commission? It just doesn't sound right. I need to see this in writing. I don't trust anything they say."
"Who is they?"
Marie looked at Agitha as if she couldn't believe she was going to have to say it. Sure, they were safely tucked away behind the door of Marie's office, but there are some things you really don't want to say.
Sitting behind her desk, Marie leaned forward as if to close the gap between her and the ladies a bit. "I'd never admit this to anybody else. So, if I hear it from outside these walls, I'll know one of you told."
Agitha nodded, her approval to proceed with the revelation. Renee just sat and watched.
"I don't really like Black people. They simply can't be trusted. I mean, you never know what they're going to do. They rely on handouts to live, and those that don't parade around like they know they're better than everyone else." She continued, "Think about it. Our forefathers took them from their savage lands and brought them to civilization. What thanks did they get? The people they PAID for sneaked off in the middle of the night and STOLE their freedom!"
Agitha, fighting back tears, slowly stood. She adjusted her clothing and quietly opened Marie's door to exit.
"What's her problem? Did I say something wrong?" she asked Renee.
"Have you not gone into her office at all at any point?"
"Well, no. But what does that have to do with anything?"
"Agitha is mixed, Marie! Are you really that clueless? Did you really not know that?"
"How COULD I have known? I mean, I know she's brunette, but she doesn't have brown skin or anything!"
"That's why I asked if you've been inside her office. Pictures of her parents are all over the place. I hate to tell you, but you just really messed up, girl!"