Were there really "good old days"?
Wed Jun 11 15:22:03 EDT 2008
I posted this to another radio discussion list, but also thought you
might find it interesting.
Yesterday, a journalist friend (Clea Simon of the Globe) and I went
to an Assisted Living facility to interview Mr. Bill Swartley, former
GM of WBZ in Boston (both radio and TV) in the 1940s and 50s. Mr
Swartley is a dapper man, and very professional in his demeanor-- he
wears a jacket and tie even on the hottest day, and is very
articulate about his recollections of radio. Oh, and did I tell
you-- he's about to celebrate his 100th birthday. (We brought him a cake.)
One of the things that made him sad was that 2 days ago, it was
WBZ-TV's 60th anniversary, and unless we both missed it, the station
said nothing about it. I find this lack of respect for history is
all too common, as new owners buy up properties and fail to see the
importance of heritage call letters or a longstanding reputation--
the fear, evidently, is being seen as (gasp) "too old" and the new
owners want to show their younger listeners the love, while not
focusing too much on the older demographics.
But one of his recollections that really got me to thinking was about
how Westinghouse treated its veteran employees. Okay fine,
Westinghouse wasn't perfect and it could be as ruthless as any other
company, I am sure. Some GMs are brutal, some are kind. It varied
then as it varies today. But he said it was a policy that if
somebody had worked for them a long time and then that person was
seriously ill and couldn't perform their duties, they would still
have a job waiting for them when they got back. Also, the company
felt it was important to cultivate loyalty in its staff and reward
people for being loyal to the company.
I certainly agree with that assessment, and I am sure I'm not
alone. I have hundreds of stories I could tell you about how I've
been treated over the years, but rather than turning this post into
an extended whine, I just found it interesting that Mr Swartley's
chief puzzlements were that today's stations lack respect for a
station's historic tradition, and that they seem to feel employee
loyalty isn't important any more.
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