Q: Shaun, why don’t you work at a TV station anymore?
Good question, friend.
I no longer work at a TV station because it’s probably one of the most boring jobs anyone could work.
If you’re not a reporter or in creative, you’re likely working in production.
I worked in production at two different stations in Texas. My first was in Dallas and the other was in Abilene.
At Dallas, I was an intern for the top network in the area. I went in fully ready to go and to work in the industry. Thing is, I didn’t know what the hell I wanted to do. I stayed in production because it was the easiest to work in and I could play by ear.
I wasn’t much of a “gopher” (Go for this, go for that) but it was….boring. I mean there were instances were the job was fun (mainly because I worked with a bunch of older people that were super laid back) but it was overall boring in some instances.
Okay, that’s not fair to say. In the mornings, it was actually a LOT of fun. During the morning show, special guests visited and spending time with them was always a treat. One thing I hated was each time I DIDN’T work a morning show, I always missed out on the black guests. I missed Deion Sanders, Aisha Tyler, John Witherspoon, and Tommy Davidson. I will say that I did get a chance to meet Stephen J. Cannell right before he died so there’s that.
In general, working as a PA consists of a lot of sitting around. If you’re a camera operator, it’s REALLY dull. You just…sit. I mean if you’re running a business on the side and you have nothing really to do work related, working as a camera man isn’t so bad. You have a lot of time.
Working as a director, you have to devote your time to your actual job. I don’t know the exact details of a floor director outside of the set but I know they have their own desk and work out plans for future shows.
I didn’t realize I wanted to work in creative until I saw the editing room. The men and women there were nothing short of amazing. They were working with programs like Adobe After Effects and Final Cut Pro. I’ve used FCP before but AE was a completely new animal. I don’t know why I didn’t stay with them more. Could have learned something.
I will say this, the people I came across were some of the nicest. Southern hospitality notwithstanding, they were all willing to help out a young lion such as myself. Yeah, I was pretty annoying at times but I really wanted to learn how the business worked. Veteran John Mccaa became my mentor and to this day, we talk often. He always encourages me and his wisdom is greatly appreciated.
For you young folks reading this, make sure you get a REAL mentor. Someone that’s well established and doesn’t try to use you for their gain. Believe you me, i’ve had a fair share of “mentors” that I no longer speak to. One such took advantage of my ignorance and cost me a lot of money.
Working as a Production Assistant in Abilene was different. It was still boring but different.
It was five months after Korea. I called just about every place I possibly could so I could “start my career the way my parents wanted me to”. Phone call after phone call, nothing came in. I legit cried because I thought I wasn’t that good.
“I got my degree” I said. “The baby boomers told me if I had a degree, I could get any job I wanted! Why am I not getting anything?!”
A TV station in Abilene took me up on what I had.
I talked to them over the phone and got the details. I drove there to meet my future boss and they told me what to expect.
Each time I go to a new place and do new things, i’m always learning something new. This was no exception.
I learned how to recognize red flags. I also learned to never do things out of desperation.
I was so desperate to get out of my parent’s house, I ignored the red flag that came with the job I was about to take.
“So how long do you plan on staying here?”
I was seriously asked this question. I didn’t think much of it because I thought I was given a choice to work a certain period of time before I moved up. “For at least six months or until we both agree that i’m ready for creative”.
I was a fool. However, It was necessary for me to be that way. I had to learn.
For eight months, I had to re-learn how to work in the United States. I also had to learn how the business really worked. I wasn’t an intern this time, I was working live television. If I screwed up, it would be documented. Oh and I would get bitched at. My bosses were not pleasant people to deal with when someone screwed up.
“These people are our leaders?! I was a director and producer! You don’t treat your people like this!”
That chip on my shoulder was very difficult to remove.
“I’m the only one here with a fudging degree! Why am I letting a 21-year-old boss me around?”
It was a difficult pill to swallow but I began to realize everything my parents and people in their generation told me was not true.
“We told you that you had to learn how to get connections! We told you!”
No you didn’t. I actually listened and learning how to get and MAINTAIN connections was not there.
For eight months, I busted my ass in the control room. I worked 5 months in the evening shift. Six days a week. Used to be five but we couldn’t keep people to stay and work. I spent my last three months working the morning shift. The only plus to that was having weekends to rest. Had I learned to never waste time, I could have started a legit business.
Speaking of time, it was deliberately wasted my second month. I let them know before hand that I wanted to work in creative. They said “Okay, take this camera and film some stuff“. What do I film? “I don’t know, just tell us a story and make it interesting.”
In addition to working as a PA, I also worked two other jobs.
“Work multiple jobs to pay the bills!”
One morning shift, one of the judges of Shark Tank (Kevin O’Leary) talked about how he started his business. He said “I got tired of being told what to do. I got fired and never worked a job again. Now I have my own business”.
That moment got me feeling a way I have never felt before. “He made it sound so easy”, I thought. I could own my own media business if I put my mind to it. Thing is, where do I start?
“GET YOUR ASS READY! WE’RE ALMOST LIVE!!”
That was the sound of my “leader”. I had to leave.
I should point out my primary jobs at the station included running the graphics, teleprompter, camera, floor directing, mopping the floor, groundskeeping, and sweeping. I didn’t spend six years in college for this crap.
“I WORK WITH A BUNCH OF STUPID F**KING IDIOTS! THEY CAN’T DO ONE SIMPLE THING RIGHT!”
I was the oldest in production prior to my departure. The person in charge of us was my age. Our main director was 21.
Again, I didn’t spend six years in college for this crap.
However, once I thought back to what O’leary said, I got over being entitled.
I was entitled because of what I was taught I “deserved”.
I thought I deserved to work in creative because of my degree and skills. I had both but my attitude sucked.
In a way, it was a blessing in disguise. I learned that I couldn’t work with people. I had issues with people in Korea and they followed me back home. These days, I don’t associate with people unless we benefit from each other.
After being tired of working three jobs, being hungry, and getting regularly chewed out, I put in my two week notice.
They knew it was coming.
“I was wondering when you would do this. You’re too good for this place, honestly. You thrived overseas. Coming here was a downgrade.”
Sometimes, a downgrade is necessary. As much as I hated working as a P.A., I had some lessons I needed to learn. I had some truths that needed to be revealed to me.
I’ve done the production thing for quite a while (from 2004-2007 and 2014).
I had enough.
Thank God for growth.
Thank God I can read. My ancestors were HUNG for reading. Getting back into my reading groove was beneficial. Manhood. Gorilla Mindset. Bold & Determined. So Good They Can’t Ignore You. Choose Yourself. Who Owns The Ice House? 32 Shards Of Thought. These books helped me started.
Thank God I never want to stop griding.
Never do I want to go through that ordeal again. No more having to upload commercials. No more waking up at 4 am for a job. No more getting chewed out and having to take it.
I didn’t go to university for six years to make $7.45/hr.