I was just ten months out of college and guess where I was sitting? The unemployment line. Yup. I had been given the ax for a job I didn’t have enough experience to get another job with. Sigh. The life of media. I was a desk assistant at KATV, Channel 7 in the 80s, and the station experienced “budget cuts.” So these media outlets that experience the 21st century budget cuts, it isn’t a new thing. I had my journalism degree from the University of Arkansas under my arm and 10 months as a coffee-getter and errand-runner extraordinaire. Sure, if the zoo got a new animal, I could go cover the story and bring back the video and interview. But you never saw my mug on TV during that time except if the camera panned me while I was at the legislature. And if you saw me, I was talking to another reporter and chewing gum. I looked like I had no home training.
While at Channel 7, a talent coach was in town and asked us what our dream job was. Mine was not news reporting. It was hosting my own talk show. Remember when everyone had a good TV talk show? Thank you, Ellen, for preserving the brand. (Many of the others are B O R I N G.) After my unfortunate firing in April 1986, I did some public relations work and then found myself in front of a microphone on KARN-AM four months later. As a talk show host. The show was “The Lisa Gibson Show” and morphed into “The Lisa Fischer Show” two years later when I got married. I was doing what I loved. But the media Grim Reaper reappeared at my door. This time in the form of “You have really bad ratings. It was nice knowing ya.” The program director, Neal Gladner, had to break the news to me. (He's still a dear friend today). It was a Friday afternoon, and like the first firing, I was so embarrassed. I mean, how bad was I that I had to lose not one but two jobs in as many years? I guess, pretty bad. I, again, relied on public relations jobs to get me through the dark financial periods (I mean, we still had to eat at the Fischer home), and then I found myself on the old Zoo 98. It was the predecessor to B98 (my home from 2006-2018). I was there for 18 months and then one day, I quit.
That’s right. I showed them. Finally, a job where I wasn’t fired. I didn’t like the sexual innuendo being used that was even inappropriate for today’s ears. (Incest was implied). So I left during the show. I will always go with my gut. I was on TV at the time (since the late 80s-this was 1990) and I went and did Dialing for Dollars that day on KARK-TV as if nothing happened. I continued my TV work until another radio station asked me about my availability for a morning show. It was COOL95, the area’s first oldies’ station. It was April of 1990, and I was so glad to be employed again. Yes, another early alarm as I did on Zoo 98, but it was fun to get up and make people happy in the mornings.
That lasted for three months. I got let go by the program director because the general manager was too chicken to do it. The GM had already communicated to me that I “sounded really dumb on the radio. Maybe you ought to focus more on TV.” How’s that for a boost of confidence?
Here I was with a wilted resume. Four media jobs, and I had been fired from three of them. In six years. I wondered if I would ever see a microphone for my career. Was I really that bad? That’s all I could think. My husband and I started our family, and all the while, I wrote press releases for people, did some copy editing and did TV commercials. I never ever intended on going back to work as an on-air personality. I was homeschooling my three children when the phone rang asking me just to “fill in” on B98.5. That was 2006. I spent 12 wonderful years there. I’m sorry to see that the stations in the city experiencing a downturn. I love radio so this is breaking my heart.
I’m also glad I have experience in writing as a journalist which gives me my current employment at AY About You magazine. A Plan B is always a good thing. What other interest do you have to fall back on in the event Plan A doesn’t work? If you’re in radio, be thinking really hard. For the rest of you, find some other avocation or side hustle you have that could pay you real money. You might find it’s your real calling. And know this, if you have seen some setbacks, your life can turn around as quickly as it turned south. I should know. I saw my fair share of disappointment in the early stages of my career, and because of it, I’m better equipped to handle adversity today.