After four years as KGB’s afternoon deejay, Ditch was fired on January 20.
“The entire building was on lockdown that day. You couldn’t even walk into the lobby. You had to get buzzed in. What is the purpose of that? Do they think someone who was fired is going to walk back in with a gun?”
Ditch says he and everyone else who worked at Clear Channel’s seven-station San Diego group knew that January 20 was going to be “bloodbath day.” Clear Channel fired 1850 employees nationwide and a reported 57 in San Diego stations.
“I got a call that morning at 10:30. They said, ‘It’s layoff day. I’m sorry, you’re on the list. Be here at 12:30.’ I was escorted into the studio to get my headphones. Then I was escorted out.… For a week before it happened, Bobbie Hill [another KGB DJ who lost his job] said the atmosphere there was like going to a wake but without a dead body and without the booze.”
But radio, Ditch says, is a “gypsy business,” often requiring relocation. “When you have kids, packing up and moving is not an appealing option. I have a two-year-old and a seven-year-old in second grade. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I have done the concert-promotion thing. I might want to get into some things on the side.”
Ditch doesn’t think radio is dead. “But the ones left standing will be those who program and promote locally. Listeners are not stupid. They know which stations are live and engage them with local topics. Those are the stations that gradually rise to the top. I was massively into putting callers on the air.” Ditch says he fears that corporate radio chains will continue to use nonlocal, syndicated shows as Clear Channel does with Ryan Seacrest on Star 94.1. “When you try and program a show from Los Angeles or Phoenix, you are losing a guy in San Diego who is talking to San Diego about what San Diego is doing.”