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.