The Ryan Jespersen Gamble Pays Off
By Grant Ainsley | Tips | [comments] | Posted [date]
I was in the media for 15 years and quickly learned it's not the world most people think it is. Talent was constantly "let go" because management wanted somebody else in their place.
Ryan Jespersen's story was similar, but different. He lost his job as an Edmonton talk show host, despite delivering consistently high ratings.
A year later, Jespersen has created his own show and has written a very rare story in Canadian media.
It's a Cut Throat Business
You’ve seen it happen. Many times. You like listening to a certain radio morning man. All of a sudden, he’s gone. The radio station tells you some new hotshot is on the air in his place and you’ll love him, but you don’t.
Maybe you’ve enjoyed watching a TV anchor, but one day she’s gone and the TV station doesn’t tell you where she went to, or why she left. She’s just gone.
Just before a new season, the hockey team unveils its announcing lineup and your favourite analyst is missing. Where he’s gone to and why he’s no longer there are never explained.
Local radio and TV stations do this all the time with their talent. I know because I was in radio for 15 years and I saw lots of talented people come and go. In most cases, a media outlet has no real good explanation of why it made a change. Some guy in a suit may have thought somebody on air needed to be replaced and perhaps pointed at the latest ratings as proof. Nobody knows if the new guy will do better. It’s not an exact science.
Although we look up to many radio and TV personalities, the reality for decades has been that local media is a cut throat business. Far too often people in the business work hard, deliver results, make money for owners and shareholders and then one day are told the station “has decided to go in a new direction” and they’re out of a job, with a minimal severance package.
It has happened to some of the biggest names we listen to on the radio and watch on TV across Alberta.
Jespersen Got Fired?
Last year, popular Edmonton radio talk show host Ryan Jespersen was suddenly no longer on the air at 630 CHED, part of the Corus Entertainment media corporation.
Word sifted out that he wasn’t coming back. Of course, CHED was tight lipped until a couple of days later Jespersen confirmed it on Twitter and surprised many people by saying he had been fired.
Fired? Jespersen? Why?
Rumours started making the rounds on social media and they all turned out to be true.
Last Tuesday morning, just hours after the results of the municipal election had come in, Jespersen talked about what happened on Real Talk, his web-based podcast. He had discussed this before, but after Edmonton mayoral candidate Mike Nickel got swamped in Monday’s election, Jespersen was riding high and told the full story.
Take a listen to his clip from his show. It was the best five minutes of local programming in a long time.
Building Real Talk
It’s an incredible story. Jespersen gets fired, but a year later, he’s on top and the people he says are responsible for getting him canned are looking for something else to do.
However, I don’t want to dwell on that, because getting to where Jespersen is today was an incredible accomplishment and I don’t think that story has been adequately told.
For years, when talented radio and TV people lost their jobs, they were forced to go to work for somebody else and hope the same thing didn’t happen again. Too often it did. This wouldn’t work for Jespersen though, because other than Corus stations, there aren’t many talk shows in Alberta.
What Jespersen did was totally different. He went to work for himself, took a huge gamble and put together his own internet show. He worked through all the technology, found office space, hired staff, lined up sponsors, did his own promotions and likely did dozens of other small things to get his show up and running.
Real Talk was an immediate success and still is.
A decade ago, Jespersen couldn’t have done what he did. The technology wasn’t there. Now it is and he went to work and built something that wasn’t easy. Only a handful of people in the country could have pulled this off.
When you lose your job and are in the public eye, it’s embarrassing. People ask you what happened? What went wrong? You ask yourself if you could have done things differently and all that uncertainty is really hard on your family.
Jespersen finds himself in a very different place from when he was at CHED. He decides who he’s going to interview and how he’s going to do it. He’s only responsible to himself and the people watching and listening to him.
The old phrase “Everything happens for a reason” is so true. It does. It doesn’t make sense why it does. It just does.
Video and image used with approval of Real Talk