(By Jeff McHugh) Spicy Thai noodles and cold Singha beer. Going for lunch was the first thing I did after my position was eliminated at Entercom in 2008. Spicy Thai food on a bad day is always a good choice.
But what to do the next day? It was my first time ever being fired, and I was a seriously confused workaholic.
Since then, I’ve been laid off a few more times and have counseled many broadcasters after job loss. Here are some tips for downsizing day two:
- Remember: It’s not your fault. Was it the pilot’s fault that the bonehead Boeing CEO cut costs on 737 Max? In business school they told us repeatedly, “Layoffs are always a sign of poor management.”
- Compare yourself to Tom Hanks or Lady Gaga. Great entertainment stars have periods of unemployment between projects. Expect that it is normal for radio personalities today to face longer periods of downtime than in the past.
- Take a nap. I’m not suggesting you play video games for the next six months, but job hunting 40 hours a week will not find you a job any faster than diligently job hunting 25 hours a week. My unemployment philosophy was, “If I’m going to be poor anyway, I might as well enjoy a little goofing off.”
- Budget! Keep your hopes up, but look for both small and large cuts. Divide every expenditure into “needs” and “wants” and consider things like increasing your insurance deductible, cutting cable, eliminating Starbuck’s lattes, etc.
- Consider cutting vices: alcohol, drugs, overeating, gambling, etc. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop. After I got fired in Atlanta, I found myself swallowing swimming pools of Corona Extra every week. Luckily, a friend called me on it, and I stopped. Stress eating is a real thing too. If you don’t bring junk food and soda into the house, you are less likely to consume it — and you save money.
- Consider adding good things: exercise, more vegetables, fish instead of red meat, meditation, water, and time with people (and dogs) who care about you. Consider therapy. A psychologist helped me through crushing depression while unemployed and got me back into shape.
- Do not go into debt. I racked up $35K in credit card debt and my strategy was, “I’ll just pay it off when I get my next job.” Took longer than I thought. Move to a cheaper home, sell a car or dip into savings if you must, but experts agree that credit cards are not to be used while unemployed.
- Start your own thing. Now is the time to experiment! Try starting a podcast, film clips for your YouTube channel, create a stand-up comedy set, or work on that book that you’ve always imagined. Many performers found a new path while exploring.
- Get a job. Any job. It may be a while before you work in radio again. I know of really talented on-air people who used to clear $500k a year now driving Lyft to get by. Working any job to pay your bills is something to be proud of. Note: if you have even a basic job it is easier to get a lease on a new place than without one.
- Search and explore. Network with old friends and make new ones. Consider schmoozing at one of the upcoming radio or podcast conventions. Consider how you can use your skills in podcasting, television, social media, stand-up comedy, event hosting, corporate training, public relations, or advertising. Or, consider getting out of media altogether. I began coaching executives on public speaking at companies like Amazon, Intel, and LinkedIn. After broadcasting, you won’t believe how much nicer the vibe is in a profitable industry where layoffs are rare.
For more thoughts on why you were laid off and what to do about it, I published these suggestions in Radio Ink this week.