It's commonplace in talk radio, and to some extent in corporate America in general, and it's also everything that's wrong with us. When KNBR decided to cut ties with Ralph Barbieri, they did it in a way that absolutely disgusts me.
The move itself doesn't leave me feeling one way or the other. I never listen to KNBR and over the years, the times I've happened upon Barbieri let's just say he wasn't my cup of tea. I personally couldn't care less whether a talk show host I don't listen to is or isn't on a radio station I don't listen to.
But regardless of how you feel about Barbieri, KNBR, the Giants, or anything else, take a moment to consider, independently, the way Barbieri was dismissed -- because the fact that "this happens all the time" doesn't make it any less deplorable.
As the S.F. Chronicle details, Barbieri was blindsided when he came into work thinking it was a day like any other over the 28 years he has toiled for KNBR -- and been a "cash cow" for the station, if that's the only way Cumulus Media, the same group which recently gutted KGO's on-air crew 4 months ago, can see it's employees.
As Barbieri describes it, he was told the GM wanted to see him, brought to the GM's office, sat down, told he was dismissed, handed about 100 pages of legal documents, told to gather his belongings and turn in his key, and escorted out of the building, in a process that took 7 minutes.
You don't have to be a fan of the person, or the place, to see how wrong it is for a loyal employee who has provided so much to his employer, to be treated in way more befitting of a violent criminal. I can understand why talk show hosts are not allowed "one more broadcast" when they are dismissed, and I realize that when you enter the talk-show industry you do so knowing that your job security is always limited to "yesterday". You can budget 30 minutes for a meeting that starts with acknowledgement and appreciation, continues with "regret but your run is over" and ends with "take your time, and thanks again for everything". I wasn't in the building, but I'm guessing those are the 23 minutes Cumulus couldn't bother to squeeze in.
I just want us all to have a moment of empathy for a human being, and to imagine being Ralph Barbieri during those 7 minutes in which 28 years of hard and loyal work were reduced to a cold, ungrateful, heartless and soulless 7 minutes: One minute for every 4 years, as Barbieri points out.
"Hey, tough -- that's the way it goes in this industry." Well it shouldn't be. Absolutely disgusting.