Opinion from Peter Saxon
These days it’s not all that often in radio (or most other businesses, for that matter) that someone is publicly fired. And if they are officially dismissed, it’s for something so contemptuous that police are called in to take them away in handcuffs.
The language of dismissal, borrowed mainly from American corporate speak, is outwardly designed to sound as innocuous as possible. The phrase, we’re going to have to let you go (its genesis being, this will hurt me more than it does you) sounds so nice – like setting a bird free from its cage. Except there’ll be no more bird seed.
Did they jump or were they pushed?
When someone leaves a station without a clear indication of why and where they’re going, what we all want to know is: Did they jump or were they pushed?
Despite management’s seeming eagerness to protect the dignity of those pushed (as well as guard against unfair dismissal actions) it’s not hard to work out which is which.
Generally, those who choose to jump do so because they have a demonstrably better position lined up. And they’ll go out of their way to make it known exactly where they’re going and what they’ll be doing.
On the other hand, when someone leaves a station with no explanation given, other than a variation of the well trodden euphemism: to pursue personal interests it’s a fair bet they didn’t “resign” because they wanted to spend more time knitting.
With the main contract negotiation period almost past, it is clear that quite a number of high profile personalities won’t be on air next year. None have been sacked, mind you, all that’s happened is that they have not had their contracts renewed. Which is a variation of the old adage from Rolls Royce – their cars never break down, they just fail to proceed.
While some who are let go are dispensed with that day, others at least get to plan their departure, if not their future, telling listeners that they’ll be leaving at the end of the year. Why? “To embrace new opportunities in 2014.” Sounds exciting! Not that they necessarily know what those opportunities will be, but you can bet they will eagerly embrace one when it comes along.
Not for a moment would I question the veracity of a memo or a media release that emanates from a station’s PR department. I’m sure that there must be people, below retirement age, who suddenly decide they’ve simply had enough of radio, happily forgo a regular income and just chuck it all in without any particular plan for the future except to pursue personal interests. It’s just that I’ve yet to meet one.
Granted, I have known of one or two who’ve resigned for genuinely personal reasons. Often it’s because they have to look after a gravely ill child, mother or spouse. But again, that fact, although not shouted from the rooftops, is usually made known.
The problem with euphemisms is that once everyone knows how to read them, the speculation they cause can be worse than the truth.
What do you think? Should management adopt a truth at all costs policy or invent a new set of euphemisms because the current batch is wearing a little thin?
Perhaps you’d like to share some of your pet euphemisms with us. Or make up some new ones. Please leave your comments below.