Southern Belle in Training

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle Blog || Est. 2012 || Virginia Beach, VA

May 19, 2024

The End of My Radio Era.

     On April 19th. I unexpectedly lost my job working on-air in morning radio. I took a few weeks to process the shock and grieve privately before I could start writing about this. Blogging has been a constant in my life for over a decade, and it's wild to realize that I have documented the entirety of my radio career on here. As difficult as this post is to write, it felt like a fitting and necessary written conclusion to years worth of career updates on my blog. Let's talk about the end of my radio era.

      From age seven on, my childhood dream job was to work in radio. (You can read more about that in this old blog post.) I made that dream come true when I accepted my first full-time radio job offer in 2017, at the young age of 22. That first job turned into a second job which turned into a third job (my most recent). All in all, I spent seven years (and two days) working full-time as an on-air radio host. Lucky number seven I suppose, and very fitting since I was seven years old when my radio dream began.

     I took so much pride in getting to tell people in my 20s that I was working in the industry and role that I had dreamed about since I was a little girl. For real- how many adults get to say they accomplished that?! From the first day of college, I knew exactly what major I wanted to be and what internships I wanted to have. My parents actually encouraged me to go into college as an undecided major so that I could be open to all sorts of degrees and career paths, but I said no way! I knew I wanted to do something journalism and communications related so I could be on the radio for my job someday. My passion for radio is what lead me to transfer colleges sophomore year so that I'd have better classes and more internship opportunities. It's also what lead me to attend a broadcasting trade school the year after I finished college. 

     Fast forward from that first radio job in April 2017 to April 2024. A lot has changed in the radio industry in these seven years. While I don't believe that FM radio will ever be completely dead.... I can tell you with 100% certainty that it is overall an unstable and outdated industry these days. That doesn't mean that there aren't select stations in certain parts of the country that are doing really well in their respective cities. There are certainly still some talented and dedicated radio personalities today who are thriving at their specific stations. But talking industry as a whole... it's not looking good, and it hasn't looked good for a long time.

     Over the past six months, I had been starting to wonder internally what would be next for me career-wise after radio. I had started to slowly realize that I no longer dreamed of working in radio for several more decades, and instead started thinking it would probably be just a few years left for me having this as my full-time career.. The idea of being a wife (and possibly a mom) someday with a morning radio schedule and lifestyle started to seem less appealing to me after I got engaged. (Important note: Ryan has always been nothing but supportive of my radio career. None of these thoughts about leaving radio in a few years were coming from Ryan. I came to all of these thoughts on my own.) Another big factor for considering leaving radio in a future year was that Ryan and I jointly didn't have any interest in leaving the Virginia Beach area. Virginia Beach is part of a Top 50 radio media market (which is pretty good), but to really make it into the "radio big leagues" I'd eventually have to be living in a Top 25 or Top 20 market. And that just didn't appeal to either of us. 

     This year began and I was very much hoping to still be at my current job for a few more years. Even though I was starting to wonder and dream about what career opportunities I could find post-radio, I did not want any of that to be anytime soon. I need to stress that! Leaving radio in 2024 was never in the cards. Nor was leaving in 2025 or 2026 likely either. While my job wasn't perfect (no job is!), I really thought I would be happy there for a few more years. I still had so many things to look forward to. On the more glamorous scale, I was excited for more country concerts and more artist interviews. On a business scale, I was excited for the possibility of more commercial endorsements with local businesses. On the professional goals scale, I was excited to keep grinding and hopefully have my morning show be nominated for a CMA or ACM radio award someday. And on a personal scale, I was excited for more years of interacting with our wonderful listeners, both during the show each day through phone calls, and seeing them in person at station events.

     My former cohost Cash left our job unexpectedly decided to leave our job in late March of this year. (I was let go exactly four weeks after Cash quit.) My last four weeks of working in radio were very stressful and demanding. Not only was I suddenly a solo morning show host without any warning or notice, but I was also helping to fill in for a coworker's maternity leave in another department of the station. My last four weeks in radio had some very long, stressful days. But I persevered. I had hope that once a new cohost was hired for me and my other coworker came back from maternity leave, things would be better again. I could get back on track with my professional goals, and fall back into a more normal work routine. But instead- it all came to an end for me on Friday, April 19th. 

     Losing a job doesn't usually equate with losing someone's entire professional career. But I am fairly certain that will be the case for me. First and foremost, it is highly unlikely that I'd be able to work full-time as an on-air radio personality again unless Ryan and I moved to another city and/or state. On-air jobs get fewer and farther between to find with each year that goes by, because of all of the changes in the industry that I spoke of earlier in this post. And neither of us has any interest to move. I am so thankful that radio brought me to various cities in my 20s, but the era of me moving cities and/or states every couple of years is done. I love Virginia Beach and feel very settled here. This is home now, and it is for Ryan as well. Even if there was a local Virginia Beach full-time position that magically opened at a different local station... I don't know that I would want it right now. I am burnt out, tired, and still quite devastated. 97.3 The Eagle was the station that I wanted to retire from radio at (in a few years). The way that everything ended up unfolding I see as God giving me a sign that it's time to step away from the industry.

     To lose my job in my wedding year feels exceptionally cruel. This will likely be the most expensive year of my adult life to date, and to lose the majority of my income without warning is terrifying. Not to mention that becoming a wife is already a big enough life change, and now I have to completely change careers this year as well. So much change in so little time. I can't even put into words how upset this makes me that this happened this year. I am thankful that it did happen seven months before our wedding and not within just a month or two, but still! This year is so expensive. (I should add that we are so grateful to have my parents paying for the majority of the wedding and Ryan's parents helping with some things as well, but even with that we are still spending thousands of our own money between our wedding day and honeymoon. Weddings these days aren't cheap!)

     The good news: I am doing so much better now than I was right after it happened. One week later, I left to go home to Maine on a solo trip and I spent nine days with my parents. There were some really rough days for me mentally while I was in Maine, but I'm so thankful for the chance to get away and grieve in a different place. Right after I got back to Virginia, we started preparing to have my parents and several friends in town for our engagement party. I was nervous to be the guest of honor at a party like that when things were still so fresh with losing my job, but the happy celebration ended up being just what I needed.

     My Christian faith is a big part of my life, and I have felt God by my side through every moment of the past month. The day that I lost my job and made the commute home for the final time, I truly felt the presence of Jesus in the car with me. There's been very few moments in my life that I have felt God that closely, but I have no doubts He was with me that day. Before I told Ryan the news, I sat in my car and cried and read Psalm 18 on my Bible app over and over:

"In my distress I called to the LordI cried to my God for help.

From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears." - Psalm 18:6 NIV 

    Although losing my job has been one of the hardest things I have ever gone through, I have not doubted for one moment that this was outside of God's plan. I might not understand His plan or timing, but I trust Him. And Ryan does as well, which I am so thankful for.

   Now I am wrapping up my last few days unemployed, and preparing to start a part-time job in a totally new-to-me industry later this week. This is very much an entry level role (as expected for it being in an industry that I have no prior experience in), but I am hopeful that I might really enjoy it and that it could possibly lead to further opportunities. I am proud of myself for taking the initiative to try something new just a month after leaving radio. 

     Although my radio era didn't end on my terms and when I wanted it to, I am so thankful for the seven years that I spent chasing my dreams in this crazy industry. I leave with so much gratitude. I don't want to say that the door is completely shut for me to ever do something radio related in the future. I know the door is shut right now, and it's time to try new things career-wise for the time being. But never say never. The future can be full of surprises I suppose.


      I'll conclude this post with a memorable photo from each of my years working full-time in radio: 

2017 - Rappelling off a building in Vermont for charity while working at The New Hot 96.7

2018 - First day as morning radio co-hosts with Marc on Z95.1

2019 - Delilah came to work for the first time

2020 - Socially distanced morning show with Marc during COVID

2021 - CMA Week in Nashville, TN with 97.3 The Eagle

2022 - Attending Morning Show Bootcamp radio conference in Chicago, IL

2023 - St. Jude Country Cares for Kids Radio Seminar in Memphis, TN

2024 - Emceeing the Connect With a Wish "Wish Upon a Star Gala" with Cash

     God Bless,

      xoxo Annaliese


1 comment

  1. I'm so sorry you had this unexpected experience! Change is always hard, but usually when we look back on it - it's always good. I hope all goes well on your new adventure!


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