When it comes to timing, television station owners and managers aren't exactly subtle about things. But they are predictable. You can almost set your clock by the layoffs, firings, and forced "resignations" that occur one nanosecond after sweeps end. Judging from the industry news today, nothing has changed.
The only thing better about the May sweeps is that they don't end before Christmas. It's always lovely to see people get canned right after the November book numbers come in as people are sipping egg nog at the Christmas party.
And that brings me to something I should have touched on days ago... the legendary "escape tape."
These days it is not uncommon for stations to basically ask people to leave immediately. Do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars. You may never see it coming, so it is best to be prepared. Because if it happens, do you think the station will let you rummage through your desk for a few days and put a final resume tape together? If you believe that, you probably think bluebirds from a Disney cartoon will come by to do your laundry.
So you need the escape tape. You need to keep copies of everything good. You need a goodie reel that is updated frequently.
And you need to keep all of this at your home, not in your desk.
There are countless stories of people who've been fired and not allowed anywhere near those precious tapes they needed to continue their careers. So, if you haven't already, make your goodie reel and bring it home. Next time you knock out a great story or anchor a great newscast, copy it and bring it home.
Maybe you'll never need an escape tape, but if the pink-slip-out-of-the-blue ever comes, you'll be ready.