No. You must have heard it wrong, I said. She probably retired. Packing her bags for Mazatlan, maybe, but not sent packing. Not Christine. She is the TV station.
“No. Read it in the paper.”
I got online. Sure enough. There it is. Brown laid off in station restructuring.
Twenty-eight years at one station. That’s rare in any profession. Virtually unheard of in broadcasting. Then laid off. I can almost hear the conversation in the conference room.
“…We’re undergoing restructuring that affects you…We will need you to sign these forms…your keys, company credit card… Happy New Year…”
Christine’s last day was December 31.
I’m sure Christine is doing fine. I imagine her Facebook is jammed with good wishes from the gazillions of journalists whom she, well, I won’t say nurtured, she whipped into shape after she hired them. A no-nonsense news director. Her newsroom was a boot camp. Ask some of my former co-workers: Faith Martin, Jordan Youngs (Both still in the Tri-Cities and doing marvelous), Claire Graham and Blake Jensen,now in Spokane, Melanie, who now anchors in Pennsylvania, Adam, who went on to Boston, now in Atlanta, Bryant in Philly, Lisa in LA; the list goes on and on and on.
But Christine taught her people not only discipline, but compassion. Christine is responsible for the success of the Coats For Kids campaign, which has provided winter clothing for tens of thousands of kids over the years, the annual Family Food Drive that just got nuts with the truckloads of corporate and individual donations that came in during the rain or shine, snow or ice, freezing or sub-freezing on the air telethon. A crazy, wonderful experience. Christine also championed my personal favorite project of the year, the annual Red Cross Real Heroes Breakfast, honoring ordinary people in the community for their extraordinary deeds.
I’m worried these projects won’t get the same priority post-restructuring.
Christine, if you aren’t there already, go to the beach. Have a big margarita for me. One of those the size of a bird bath. Sit back and enjoy. And don’t forget to wear a hat and sunscreen.