Forty-six years ago, Johnny Paycheck released a song titled “Take This Job And Shove it.” It was his biggest hit, and as it usually happens with a song like this, it stands out to even non-fans for a reason. Specifically, in this case, it was because it hit home with many dissatisfied workers all across America.
This #1 song was written by David Allan Coe, and in 1981 it became the genesis for a movie of the same name. So, what was the song about?
The Song’s Backstory
It’s appropriate that David Allan Coe was born the day after Labor Day, on September 6, 1939, in that his biggest song is known as “The Working Man’s Anthem.”
The song tells the story of a man who’s grown tired of being underappreciated and overworked at his job and fantasizes what it would be like to tell his boss to “take this job and shove it.”
Coe is fabled to have penned the song in about five minutes. He pitched the song to George Jones who turned it down. As word of the song spread, Coe one day received a phone call from Johnny Paycheck (a country artist unknown to Coe) who asked for permission to record it. He agreed and the song became a massive hit as well as Paycheck’s signature song. In fact, it was the only #1 record Johnny Paycheck ever had, spending a total of 18 weeks on the charts.
Even recently, the song has been heard on the Hannah Montana and Simpsons television shows.
Why Is Everyone Quitting?
As American workers quit their jobs in record numbers in 2021, the year is now known as the “Great Resignation.” Return To Office (RTO) directives post-pandemic is when it started, as many who found they could do their jobs just as well from home and were not interested in returning to the office. By the end of 2021, 47 million hospitality workers, the industry with the highest rate of quitters, would in essence tell their employers to “take this job and shove it.”
In 2022, American business owners were confronted with a new kind of quitting by their employees; quiet quitting. Quiet quitting is defined as people who do the minimum required and are psychologically detached from their job.
That reminds me of what we used to call “not my job” people, who had the attitude of doing the least they could get away with and still get a paycheck.
Quiet quitters are estimated to make up 50% of today’s workforce and that should be alarming to all employers.
College professors, who must have terminal college degrees (like a PhD), are finding their work environment very unsatisfying and 500,000 of them headed for the exits in 2022. Radio’s unhappy employees have a lot in common with people employed in higher education.
I will tell you why, in a moment.
If you go to the website Careercast.com and look up the “Top Ten Worst Jobs in America,” you will find that #1 is being a Reporter, #6 is being a Broadcaster and #8 is being an Advertising Salesperson.
Back in 2019, Fred Jacobs wrote a blog article “Take This (Radio) Job And Shove It,” in which he cited Careercast.com data showing that broadcaster, DJ and ad sales rep held down the #7, #8, and #9 positions on the top ten worst jobs in America and apparently conditions are not improving for our industry. Poor pay would be bad enough, but a lack of job growth exacerbates attracting new talent.
Job Growth Forecast
Ad Sales Rep -6%
Why Are People Quitting Their Jobs?
We can’t begin to fix the problem, if we don’t clearly understand what the problem is, and you might be surprised to learn that no matter the job or industry, the reasons are strikingly similar.
- Feeling uncared for by their manager
- Tense relationships with colleagues and stress
- Poor compensation
- Lack of career advancement
If you’ve worked in the radio business, you’ve no doubt heard something like “DJs are like spark plugs, if one doesn’t work, pull it out and replace it with a new one.” I’ve heard this sentiment attributed to many big box broadcast leaders over the years.
It might surprise you to learn that I found much the same attitude among higher education administrators when it came to their faculty.
College faculty and radio personalities are both instrumental when it comes to making a connection. For faculty, it’s between the student and the college, for the radio personality, it’s between the radio station and the listener.
Colleges like to stress the importance of student recruitment and retention. The radio industry calls this building Cume (total radio station listening audience) and maintaining a high Time Spent Listening (TSL). Sadly, both miss the most important element in growing both of these metrics.
Colleges have been quick to “replace and replenish workers,” while radio stations have opted for voice tracking and syndication.
If you think this stuff doesn’t matter, think back to when the National Football League (NFL) discounted the issues their referees were complaining about, let them go out on strike while replacing them with less experienced refs. The NFL quickly learned that they had made a very bad decision as blown calls proliferated; players and fans expressed their outrage about how this bad decision hurt the game.
What all workers are seeking, is a place of work that gives them a sense of belonging, appreciation, and fulfillment, as well as insuring their success, productivity and growth. The Harvard Business Review (HBR) says that your employees are more productive and engaged when their four basic needs are met:
- Renewal (physical)
- Value (emotional)
- Focus (mental)
- Purpose (spiritual)
HBR says that “when employees at a company perceive that anyone of their four needs has been met, they report a 30% higher capacity to focus, a nearly 50% higher level of engagement, and a 63% greater likelihood to stay at the company.”
People don’t care how much you know,
Until they know how much you care.
-Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States
8 responses to “Take This Job & Shove It”
Off topic, but…
My “other” favorite by DAC is “You Never Even Called Me By My Name.”
“You Never Even Called me By My Name” was recorded by Coe, written by Steve Goodman.
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None of this surprises me – we’ve seen automation coming for centuries, but with its foot on the accelerator lately. We’ve seen changes to the entertainment environment for decades. We just needed the excuse en masse, something bigger than individuals, for us all to react to what has changed in our work environment, which the pandemic of course gave us.
I have worked from home for 30 of the 43 years of my working life, with IT network and mobile tech throughout that time making it happen. Why did we start along the automation route if not to mean less work for humans? less emotion needed to be shown about our work? The next natural step is 4 day working weeks and Universal Basic Income. Its coming.
As for radio, my mantra for many years now has been “we should have the best quality radio ever” because of the tech options. Better than the days of razor blade tape editing and innovative entertainers. Instead tech had been used to cut corners, save money, and anyone can “do it” – maybe not “do it well”, but “do it”.
So who is special in the UK radio industry? Listeners engage with those they have built an emotional attachment to over the years (google “Ken Bruce” and “Radio 2” to feel the warmth of emotion shown to a national broadcaster leaving the BBC this week).
Its natural for others to feel theres nothing special about working in radio, might as well go and make a podcast from their back bedroom at the weekend, at zero cost, and have full control. Worth mention of the demise of importance of radios best buddy for 70+ years, the music business. Again, tech has impacted that, also behind the rise in computer gaming as an alternative leisure pursuit instead of owning music. This has all been a long time coming.
What happens next will be even more interesting.
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Thank You for all you wrote. I’m in complete agreement with what you wrote.
This line especially struck a nerve: “Listeners engage with those they have built an emotional attachment to over the years.”
That’s what those did the cutting, failed to take into account. They were in essence killing the goose that laid the golden egg.
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Long time broadcaster (member of the Maine Association of Broadcasters’ Hall of Fame) and now a retired sideline observer of the slow death of radio as we knew it. Why is being a broadcaster one of the 10 worst jobs in America today? There is no future in becoming a broadcaster these days. Once hired you will find no training, low compensation, an empty workplace (working from home can be lonely). New hires in broadcasting these days must be super talented and super dedicated. Its a very sad situation to watch an industry slowly face into oblivion. Apologies to all who still love the business, and to you I say hang in as long as you can. Your broadcasting career will make great conversation.
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I hear ya!
Your last sentence sounded like what my wife Sue, a former flight attendant always says, “it will look good in my obituary.”
People my age, still are amazed to find out I’m still doing a radio show six days a week. Of course, it takes advantage of all the latest technological developments, but for me, it’s like my golf game. Something I do for fun and personal enjoyment.
Enjoy your retirement!
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