Arguably the biggest name among the more than twenty people laid off by Clear Channel Denver yesterday was Rich Goins, aka The G-Man, a sports-oriented gabber who's been a member of the Rick Lewis-Michael Floorwax morning team on The Fox since 1990. Yet, in conversation, Goins displays zero bitterness. He offers words of praise for both Joe Bevilacqua, CC's director of FM programming in Denver, who broke the news about his ouster, and market manager Lee Larsen, who oversaw the employee purge -- part of a reported 3 percent staff reduction by the San Antonio-based corporation at its properties nationwide. And he expresses gratitude to Lewis and Floorwax for a tribute to him that they aired this morning. "That was really nice," he says, adding, "I was privileged to be a part of what they do."
In an unpleasant example of synchronicity, Steve Cooper, who gave Goins his nickname, was laid off yesterday as well; he'd been working at The Bear, a classic-rock station in the Fort Collins market. "Steve was the number-one afternoon guy at KBPI back in the '80s, and I was on KNUS with Jay Mariotti [now a columnist for AOL Sports and a frequent ESPN contributor]," Goins recalls. "I'd go on Steve's show, and he'd be like, 'I don't want to just call you the sports guy. Why don't I call you the G-Man?'"
Goins brought his new moniker to the Fox in 1990 shortly after Lewis and Floorwax began working together -- and a stunt he took part in early on played a major role in launching the pairing. "We had just started a billboard campaign, and Jack Evans, who was our program director at the time, said, 'Why don't you do your sports reports from this billboard over Colfax?'" he recalls. "And then, later that afternoon, he said, 'Hey, why don't you live up there until the Broncos win a game?' -- because the Broncos were having their worst year under Dan Reeves and had lost one or two games in a row. And I thought, okay, I'll be up there for a few days -- but it ended up being 33 days."
Not that Goins minded -- at least in retrospect. "We got huge national exposure," he recalls. "It was on NBC Nightly News. Bob Costas had me on his show every week. Bryant Gumbel interviewed me for the Today show. For me, it was a total career-maker."
Still, Lewis and Floorwax's subsequent success didn't immunize Goins against the effect of the current recession, which is hitting traditional media like radio especially hard. A slew of his colleagues were disappeared during Clear Channel Denver layoffs in January -- and although he didn't know for certain that he would be targeted during the next round of cuts, "I realized it could happen to anyone," he says. Then, yesterday, Bevilacqua called him into his office, "and when I sat down, I saw my name on an envelope, and I kind of knew what was going on," Goins concedes. "Joe said, 'This has nothing to do with what you contribute to the radio station. It's simply a numbers game that we're caught up in' -- and that's not only at Clear Channel, but in the industry as a whole. Joe was like, 'We love what you do. You do a great job, you contribute a lot. But unfortunately, this is something we have to do' -- and I know it was tough on them, too. He was really sincere."
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So, too, was his post-layoff conversation with Lewis and Floorwax. "They stuck around an hour after the show, and we stood there and reminisced about how we all started together," Goins notes. "We all grew up together in radio, so to speak, and when you go through nineteen years with two people you respect and admire that much, it's going to be emotional -- and it was. But it was really great in a way, too, because we had the chance to say how we felt about each other, and how much appreciation we had for each other's work."
At this point, Goins doesn't know what's next. "It wasn't like they just hung me out to dry," he allows. "They were generous to me -- they gave me a severance package that gives me time to think about things. Obviously, I'd like to work for another radio station or maybe do some TV, but I haven't made any exact decisions. I guess it depends on if somebody offers me a gig." He even sees the sort of technology that's eliminated many radio jobs in recent years as a potential positive, especially when it comes to staying in Denver: "It seems like most morning shows anymore are either national programming or they're voicetracked by talent in another city. And I think I have something to offer a morning show."
Even so, he'll miss working with his longtime foils. "Lewis and Floorwax are two of the most talented morning guys, not just in Denver, but around the country -- and I'd even say in the history of radio. When you talk about guys who've had long runs together: Almost twenty years of doing morning radio and being in the top three or four the whole time with all the changes in the industry is really a testament to their talent. As long as Lewis and Floorwax are doing their morning show, Clear Channel is pretty well covered."
He hopes he'll be able to say the same about himself sometime soon. "I have a lot of connections; people know me, and I think I have a pretty solid reputation. Who knows? If somebody needs a guy, I'm their guy."