TV and radio stations are cutting back everywhere, shedding and trimming salaries wherever they can.
And no one is immune.
News anchors are picking up additional work, which is why you see them at odd hours, filling in for vacationing colleagues -- often for no additional pay. TV news producers have added web responsibilities -- with no additional pay.
Angelo Cataldi, arguably WIP's franchise player, is now about seven weeks from the expiration of his contract, and around the station there's nervous buzz because a new deal is not at hand. He's been there nearly 20 years.
By this time of the year, staffers would have met to start planning the annual Wing Bowl. That has not happened, though my sources assure me that Wing Bowl will go on Feb. 5, 2010.
Cataldi took my call Friday and confirmed that talks had been "more difficult than in the past." He did not disclose sticking points. His agent, Steve Mountain, declined to comment.
In an e-mail Sunday, station manager Marc Rayfield wrote: "Discussions are moving along slowly as they often do, but they are moving along."
Cataldi needs WIP just as WIP needs Cataldi.
When asked what he would do if he didn't re-sign, Cataldi retorted: "How would I know? I'm under contract."
What else is out there. There are few TV jobs that pay his seven-figure salary, and none in this market. I suppose -- theorically -- that the other sports-talk station in town could hire him, but it's even unlikelier that Greater Media could afford him.
Money might not even be the issue. Cataldi not only has done quite well for himself over the years, he's considered to be a shrewd investor.
What I sense here is a matter of principle: With orders to cut payroll, CBS and other media giants are in a bind. If they re-sign a high-priced talent at a higher price, or even the same price, other personalities can use the point in their own negotiations. Conversely, if Cataldi does settle for less, it hurts the bargaining position of the rest of the talent out there.