Corporate Scrooge Contest

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Have you ever worked for an employer that was cheap to the point of making you want to find another job? So miserly and humiliating at Christmas that you had visions of fun revenge instead of sugerplums dancing in your head?

Slate Magazine decided to have a contest for the worst corporate scrooge, and over 200 entries were submitted.


Some of the stories are pretty humorous, others are just downright depressing. You can read it here.

I have a couple of stories of my own. Both were TV stations I worked for. WLFI-TV in Lafayete Indiana where I got my start was owned by The Shively Brothers, and Harold, the younger brother, was the General Manager. They were newspapermen and this was their first TV venture. Being that, they were both clueless on how to run a TV station or treat employees that had been in the business awhile.

One Christmas ‘bonus’ was quit memorable. Each employee received a brass key chain with a giant brass letter signifying their last name. Seeing how mine was one of the largest letters, a “W”, and it was about 5 inches long making it impossible to even fit into my pocket. One employee suggested we all get together, spell out an appropriate message (you guess what it was) and present it to the our clueless GM.

Another one happened right here at KHSL-TV in Chico, soon after the corporate weasels from Catamount Broadcasting bought the station, and turned it from a pleasant family run business, to a place that was all about the bottom line.

Mickey McClung, the former owner, and a kind woman, always made sure each employee had extra money or a gift card to buy Christmas dinner for the family, and we could always count on that, and sometimes more in good years. The next owner, Howard Brown, kept the tradition and was even more generous.

After Catamount took over, we wondered what would become of that tradition. We soon found out.

The next Christmas we were presented with a $25 gift certificate to Holiday Markets. They were an advertiser, and the gift certificates were “trade outs” for airtime, so they cost the corporation nothing.

And…surprise, there are no Holiday Markets in Chico, the company had closed its Chico store that year. They had stores in Redding and Paradise, but with the price of gas, it was hardly worth the trip.

What I learned from these experiences was to treat my own employees well. And hand out real, significant cash bonuses at Christmas instead of something that will make them think less of you. Employees make the company, not the other way around.

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3 Responses to Corporate Scrooge Contest

  1. Ron Acevedo says:

    Ahh Anthony, dredging up those warm and fuzzy Catamount moments. I remember well the meeting in the newsroom when (Mr. Johns or was it the other hatchet man?) told us what a great future we had ahead of us. Tom stood up long enough to raise a question. At that moment it was made clear what it was all about, DON’T QUESTION! You’re either for us or against us. Tom wasn’t there much longer and I left soon after. I’m going on my third corporate takeover now and it all just repeats itself. The pep talk, the promises, the weeding out, and the diillusionment. I’m selling my soul just long enough to pick my own time, again. If I knew a wit about computers I’d send you my resume! LOL.

  2. Anthony Watts says:

    Ron, I remember that meeting, it was the wakeup call for the exodus of many people who didn’t want to be part of that mess. Of the original 55 employees who were at KHSL, almost all have left or been replaced. Linda Watkins Bennett and Debbie Cobb are the only two that remain.

  3. Jim Swanson says:

    Anthony – Don’t get me started.

    - Jim Swanson

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