I got my start in radio.

My first full-time job paid $700 a month – after inflation today, probably more like $1,400. Which would translate to $8 an hour in 2021 dollars, except that in small-market radio back then, “full time” meant 48 hours a week. You had to pick up a weekend shift – meaning that in today’s dollars, I was making $6.75 an hour, for running the music playlist, reporting a bit of news, doing some baseball play-by-play, and being on the air from 8-noon and 3-6PM weekdays, plus the eight hour weekend shift.

I did it because, at the time, that’s how one got into the business. Before one could apply for the job making $20K (in 1985 dollars), which could lead you to the job in Minneapolis making $30-35, which could lead you to Chicago and $50-60 – maybe even that major-market morning guy or program director job that would get you into six figures.

Most of us, myself included, never got that far, of course. Oh, I made it to the big markets – in my case, KSTP in the ’80s, where I think my best year was $12K (1987 dollars) plus a whooooole lot of freelance voice work and news reporting. It actually went downhill from there; when I left radio in ’93, I’d been making $7 an hour and 20-25 hours a week at WDGY, as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity gutted the market for 20-something guys doing afternoon talk shows.

I moved on to other dreams.

One of which has never been to be the Political Class’s middle and senior management.

Which is the dream for an awful lot of people who go into political staff work.

Starting with a four-year degree in Political Science, they move on to internships, and then to entry-level staff jobs – with legislators, congresspeople, executive branch departments – that, like a lot of entry level white collar jobs with immense supplies of applicants and few positions (even in government), which (even in government) limits the wages.

Oh, yeah – these “kids” who are plugging away for peanuts are all betting on the long term – a senior staffer, a civil service management gig with the six figure salary and the government pension, a consultant job making the serious money, or like AOC an elected office with the boundless wealth that brings (for Democrats) – the big payoff for those who have the talent, the marketing acumen and the persistence to get there.

But even given all that? There’s no field so with so much upside that someone can’t wrench some victimology out of it:

They “help pass trillion dollar legislation” in the same way an Amazon delivery driver is “part of the world’s largest corporation”.

But just you watch – this sort of “story” doesn’t appear in a vaccuum. There’ll be a push to address the standard of living, “diversitiy” and pay of political staffers. None of it paid for by the senior staffers the “victims” want to one day become.

12 thoughts on “Deferred

  1. Personal care attendants in nursing homes make very little money. Now with the average age of U.S. senators being 64+, and many irreplaceable senators in their 80s, I bet many of these staffers are basically PCAs, propping their codgers up, cleaning messes and making sure the prune smoothies don’t run out. If any PCAs are going to get a raise, let’s start in the nursing homes.

  2. It strikes me that in return for the damage they’re causing, perhaps the political operatives ought to owe money to the rest of us, not get paid!

  3. It’s Mitch. Mister Berg if you’re nasty.

    And I’m not .Just the tweet.

  4. According to PowerLine, the glitterati graduates of Sarah Lawrence, Brown and Columbia, who work at The New Yorker, have been oppressed too much and too often and by golly, they just can’t take it anymore!

    They are going out on strike!

  5. It kind of reminds me of the group of interns a couple of years ago who were hired at a prestigious firm but objected to the dress code. They created a petition and submitted it to senior management to do away with this archaic (and likely racist and patriarchal) practice. A meeting was scheduled with management – supposedly to discuss the grievance – but the meeting instead was to inform the interns they were being released.

  6. Pingback: In The Mailbox: 06.07.21 : The Other McCain

  7. but the meeting instead was to inform the interns they were being released.

    Ha! The interns were taught a valuable life lesson, the same one I try to impart to my kids: “Always negotiate from a position of strength.”

  8. Don’t forget that other benefit from working in big market radio…an Iron City Houserockers album.

  9. Mitch, while I agree in principle with the idea that many go to work for congress members not with the idea of becoming rich in that job but rather with the idea of what they’ll get later and that revolving door should not exist. Let’s also be clear, the Dems voted to try to close those doors, the Repubs voted to keep them open.

    17 of the top 25 members of Congress are R’s, 8 are D’s, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’ net worth is $100k, that’s it. McConnell’s, who did not get his wealth by bribes, but rather married well, is worth $32M.

    If you’d leave the invective and outright disinformation out, your point would be more clear.

    Also, I don’t think you “left” radio in 1993, you continue to “work” in it. Rather, you left a paying job, I get that but I think saying you’d not take a good paying job, given it was your dream is probably a stretch, don’t you think?

    My first job was 6.35/hour in 1987, but it was PER hour, so if I worked overtime, I got paid, well until 1991 when I became “salaried” despite doing nearly the same job. That’s another of those changes (to the Fair Labor Standards Practices Act) which the Dems opposed and the R’s supported.

    Sounds to me like you got milked for free work, much like these folks did. You did so with an eye toward a dream, which I applaud, they are doing the same, but, and I agree with you on this point, they seem to object to the hardscrabble. That said, these are 31 year-olds, not 22 year-olds, and it’s DC not MPLS, and having spent a good part of the last several years in DC (part time) I can assure you 31k isn’t close to enough to live on. 13k (or 18k) in 1987 (with overtime) by contrast, was, and I was 22. So, I agree people have to acknowledge why they are doing something, but I disagree that it’s really the same thing as what you and I went through.

  10. Lessee..the Dems wanted to close that door, which is why former President Obama got a sixty million dollar advance for books that will never sell enough to justify that (same thing with Clinton’s ten million dollar advance), and that’s why Hunter Biden got a two million dollar advance for a book that only sold 11000 copies in the first week or two. That’s also why the government looked the other way as Biden went from a thousaidaire to a multimillionaire as VP, as Biden, Clinton, Obama, and others got sweetheart deals on their mortgages, and why CNN is more or less (absent Biden’s employees) a reunion of the Obama White House.

    Honestly, Paddyboy, can’t you do better than this? Reality is that AOC is worth < $100k because for whatever reason, she didn't (or couldn't) find a job with her "economics" degree that somehow includes the Gini coefficient, but not basic supply and demand. Her business savvy is such that she was caught owing a hefty bill for back taxes, and sad to say, she brings that expertise to government.

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