I recall vividly the first time I did a live sportscast in studio. The Producer stopped me before I went into the studio, looked me square in the eyes and said, “Remember that your mic is on at all times. When you step into that studio, it is NEVER off even if we tell you it is. Got it?”
I got it. Never forgot it. All too often it seems plenty of people either forgot it, were never told it, or have that momentary lapse of reason.
If you plan on following a career in broadcasting, stamp this one on the inside of your eyelids. And even if you never intend on getting into the game, remember it well. Clandestine, hidden microphones are everywhere thanks to cell phones, mini-mics and people who just can’t wait to nail their 15 minutes of fame thanks to your mistakes. Once recorded, they will never go away. Ever.
You feel sorry for anyone losing a job on such a mistake, but it shows a real lack of respect. Not only for yourself, but for your co-workers, the station, and the audience. Jobs such as these are tough to come by and they have a set of standards. Those standards, and the ones you set for yourself, define who you are. Having been in situations such as this many times, I can surmise the anchor was having a bad day, perhaps there were mistakes in the show either he made or others around him fell victim to, and he was ready to get off the set and put this show behind him. I get it. But that’s no excuse.
Even if the mic was off, the show was done and he’s walking off the set, the worst thing to do is let your anger and/or frustration be seen by those on your team. It’s demoralizing and will have a lasting impact on your personal brand.
Justin Kraemer was fired for this mistake. It was not only avoidable, but as a veteran broadcaster he knew better and should have exercised better judgement. Something like this is not worth losing your job or your reputation.
Kraemer never worked in broadcasting again. Instead of seeking to amend his reputation and going as public as he could with a sincere apology, he mistakenly thought that “any publicity is good publicity”, and sought to use his new found “fame” as a launching pad to a career in politics.
Perhaps because people remembered and were able to remember his faux pas thanks to Google and an Internet that never forgets, or because he simply wasn’t the right man for the job, that line of thinking about fame didn’t pan out.
Kraemer made a number of avoidable mistakes here, and I truly do feel sorry for his career coming to an end in such an ignominious manner. But he showed a lack of professionalism, a lack of contrition, and a lack of judgement in believing that mistake adage about publicity.
I honestly hope he finds his way back to the profession and is given another chance. Jobs like these are tough to come by, but as we have learned far too often, the Internet never forgets.