(Update: Ted Williams agreed to go into rehab during a taping of the Dr. Phil Show that airs Thursday, June 13 (check local listings). This was after Mr. Williams was detained by police after a disturbance at a Los Angeles hotel.  Sudden fame could have derailed recovery, especially if he did not have a support system that had his best interests at heart. A Facebook page has been set up for those wishing to pray for Ted Williams.

Here’s hoping the rehab is successful, and Ted Williams has a great career!

Here’s more from CNN’s “Showbiz Tonight“)


 

 

It’s the feel-good story of a very young year.  Down on his luck, on a street corner, was a homeless man carrying a cardboard sign. The sign said “I have a God-given gift of voice. I’m an ex-radio announcer who has fallen on hard times”.  As luck would have it, a Columbus Dispatch reporter happened by with a video camera, and asked Mr. Williams to say a few things. The video went viral.  By the next morning Ted Williams, with a fresh shave and haircut, was WNCI, Columbus, Ohio’s Dave and Jimmy Morning Show. By the end of the show, he had a job with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and shortly thereafter, had contracts with  Kraft, among others.

If anyone had any doubt about the power of Social Media, they shouldn’t any more.  5 million page views and counting. (The Dispatch eventually had the video taken off YouTube, but it’s still on the Columbus paper’s own site).

I’m going to admit to having skepticism when I first heard the story. Videos have gone viral before which turned out to be staged. It wasn’t long ago that a video circulated of a young woman who quit her job on a dry erase board , told off her boss, and accused him of sexual harassment and playing Farmville on company time. A few days later, it was revealed that the video was produced by an ad agency.

I don’t know anyone who does not wish Ted Williams well in his new endeavor. However, a few questions have been asked about Mr. Williams’ sudden rise to fame. The Smoking Gun revealed Williams’ criminal past.  What about the companies who hired him without due diligence and a background check? We have people being turned down for $10/hour customer service jobs for imperfect credit. Do prospective employees at Kraft have to take drug screens?

It’s no secret that broadcasting has shed thousands and thousands of positions since the Telecommunications Act of 1996 became law, and the recession hasn’t helped.  Just when you wonder how many more people can be cut after station groups have cut the fat, meat, gristle and bone, more cuts are announced.  So you can imagine that broadcasting and voiceover talent who have been looking for jobs have mixed emotions. A sample from the Taylor at Radio-Info.com newsletter, as Tom Taylor reviews his e-mail:

“One’s from a voiceover pro who says there are a lot of hard-working people in the field who didn’t have drug problems or criminal records and are just plugging away every day”.  Another said, “I’m happy for everyone who get a second chance in life, but this is more like a second chance to the tenth power. There are so many unemployed radio people every bit as talented as this guy who couldn’t even hope to get ESPN or an NBA franchise to return their calls.”

My Facebook page, which contains many current and former radio pros, was active as well. One person while wishing Williams well, decried the idea of radio patting itself on the back with this story after “eating it’s own family”

Once the hoopla is over, what will become of Ted Williams? Will he really be able to turn his life around? Or once the publicity value is done, will the Cavaliers, Kraft and everyone else chew him up and spit him out? Will Ted end up back on the street? One would hope not.

I wish Ted Williams the very best, and open the floor for comments.

Advertisements