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Armando Salguero: Highly Rated Sports Talk Host Tells How He Became Vaccine Mandate Casualty

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Tim Hill seems to have a grip on his new routine as a UPS delivery guy now that he’s been on the job about a week.

“I think I’m on day five or six as a seasonal personal vehicle driver for UPS,” Hill said Tuesday evening after he got home from work. “I think that’s what they call it. You just have to drive your own car around and deliver UPS packages. It’s going well. I am happy to have a job and to make sure the family is good for a little while.”

The Hill family — wife Teresa and three boys — didn’t exactly know how the holidays were going to go for a few weeks there because Tim was unemployed after he got fired for cause from his job as the program director and morning drive show host at 107.5 The Game in Columbia, South Carolina.

The cause Cumulus Media, which owns the radio station and several hundred like it around the country, cited for firing Hill?

He declined to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

And that ran afoul of the company’s vaccine mandate.

“Not only did I get fired from Cumulus for not following their COVID vaccine mandate, but I was fired with cause,” Hill said. “So that meant no unemployment, no severance, nothing, zip, zilch.”

After five years on the air and with a contract in full effect, Hill broadcast his final show on October 15 — but only after he agreed, at the station’s request, not to mention on air he was being fired and why.

“Afterward, I sobbed in my garage where I had done my show the last 18 months,” Hill said. “In my garage, I just sobbed like a baby for 10-15 minutes.

“It just smashed me. I didn’t see that coming. I feel fortunate I wasn’t allowed to talk about it on the air because I never would’ve gotten through it.”

This is where the cynics and trolls would normally chime in with hot takes about Hill merely paying a price for his decision — one they don’t agree with, by the way — and that’s just the way it goes.

Hill, who made his living speaking to folks across an entire state, would like to talk to you now:

“I strongly disagree with that mindset,” he said. “I want to be very clear in all of this: I am not a big political guy. I am not a big, ‘Hey, let me tell you what my opinion is and how I think you should live your life.’ And I would be the last person to tell a business how to run its business. But we all understand in this country, you have to abide by certain protocols, certain absolutes. And to me this is one that has crossed the line.

“You can’t force others to make the personal medical decision you want them to make. I can read between the lines. I’m not a dummy. It was very clear what was going to be acceptable and what was not going to be acceptable. There was no conversation, and to me, that’s unacceptable when it comes to my personal medical choices.”

Some of the social media reaction was predictably unsympathetic to Hill’s firing because that small realm is too concerned with firing darts to feel sympathy.

But let’s be clear: Losing one’s job can be a numbing experience that affects an entire family.

“We talked to my kids about it before. We felt like that was the responsible thing to do,” Hill said. “I have an 8-year-old, a 6-year-old and a 1-year-old, all boys. The 6-year-old very perceptively asked, ‘How do you feel about this?’ And I told him I had mixed emotions but was proud that I was standing up for what I believe in. And the 8-year-old, you can tell he was really thinking about it asked, ‘Daddy, how can they boss you to do that?”

“I said, ‘Good question, buddy. But they can’t.'”

Hill says he’s uncertain about his legal recourse but is exploring all of his options.

“About a week left before I got fired, my wife asked me if I felt brave,” Hill said. “And I told her I didn’t feel brave. I didn’t think this was a brave thing to do. I just felt not weak, like I wasn’t going to be bullied.

“My wife and I are raising three boys right now, and I wasn’t going to be able to look them in the eye if I was bullied into getting a vaccine that I did not agree with, did not feel ready for, wasn’t prepared to get, wasn’t going to choose voluntarily.”

Out of a job because someone wanted him to inject something into his body he simply didn’t want in there, Hill had plenty of time to consider and even regret his decision after that fateful final show.

But despite the repercussions, he’s not being moved by rough circumstances.

“Absolutely no regrets in any of this,” Hill said. “I completely feel I’m in this situation for a reason. I’m not sure what that reason is, but I absolutely know I would be filled with regret, had I made the opposite decision. I would have felt bullied and weak and a terrible example of a father, a husband, and a man.

“I’m not trying to come off as a victim here. I understand my place in all of this. There are so many others that have gone through this exact situation from a professional standpoint and there are so many others that have gone through much worse from a medical standpoint. COVID’s been awful. One of my best friend’s dad died from COVID.

“I called him before this news went public out of respect to him and our relationship because I didn’t want it to be something he hated me for. And he responded on Twitter, put it out there, saying he 100 percent disagrees with my choice, but he 100 percent agrees with the right for me to make the choice.

“I’m not trying to play the victim card. I’m not trying to be a martyr. I’m just trying to stand up for what I think is right. And I continue to speak about it in the hope others out there who are in a similar situation will do what they feel is right — whatever that is — not bowing down to outside pressure, especially corporate pressure.”

It should be said that for nearly three months, from August to October, Hill fought to keep his job.

Hill sought both medical and religious exemptions that took weeks to document and that Cumulus summarily denied “after full consideration” within 24 hours of the final request being submitted.

And so morning drive in Columbia is different now. And Hill’s daily assignment is different — at least until January 15, when the seasonal job he’s holding disappears.

“Today it was a storage unit,” Hill said. “Pick up the packages, drop them off, come back to the storage unit, pick up some more, go drop those off, and that’s the day. There’s a warehouse nearby that I’ll go by and some days it’ll be that and some days it’s a storage unit kind of deal.

“It gives me a lot of time to prepare how I want things moving forward. I’m not too much into the rear view thing. I guess I could get bitter. But I’m really an ‘everything happens for a reason’ kind of guy. And that’s been my mindset this entire process.

“If [a vaccine mandate] is where Cumulus chose to go, I knew I had to go in a different direction.”

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

Armando Salguero has covered the NFL since 1990 for the Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald and ESPN. He was a 2016 Associated Press Sports Editors Top 10 columnist. He is a Pro Football Hall of Fame selector and AP All-Pro team voter.

16 Comments

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  1. Republicans hold the governors office (Henry McMaster), senate and House of Representatives in South Carolina. They could make it very uncomfortable for businesses that fire the unvaxxed . They don’t have the guts or the will or the creativity to do so.

  2. This is getting so out of hand. We’ve already seen – conclusively – that vaccination does nothing to stem the spread of the virus or reduce hospitalizations and fatalities. Forcing someone to lose their job over it is insane. IN-freaking-SANE.

  3. Now that judges are deeming the federal vax mandate unconstitutional, he will have the blueprint to sue for his old job back. Businesses can no longer hide behind the “federal government said so” defense of their illegal actions. They should be, and will be sued successfully.

  4. Incredible. DeSantis in Florida worked with the Legislature to pass a law banning vaccine mandates in Florida. If Outkick can’t hire Mr. Hill, maybe he can move to Florida.
    I have gotten the two Pfizer vaccines plus the booster because that was my choice. And because I am one of the few that vaccines do work to prevent severe illness I do not give a hoot whether anyone else gets vaccinated.
    What happened to “My body, my choice”?

  5. Do I understand that he was “working from his garage” with zero physical contact with his co-workers?
    So he coulda had leprosy and was no threat to Cumulus in any way … assuming he was not proselytizing about it on-air. … I wonder if there is more to this story?

  6. I’ve posted this before but I have a special needs daughter that requires 24/7 care. We currently have two nurses that care for her during the day so her mom and I can work. Both would potentially be eliminated by the mandate if their company doesn’t approve their exemption requests. The risk my daughter faces from COVID pale in comparison to not having daily care as well as the impact on our jobs and families.

    Yesterday was the day they were supposed to hear about the exemption requests and so far haven’t heard from the company. Hoping the court rulings over the last couple of days have caused the company to postpone it’s enforcement until the lawsuits play out in court.

  7. Mr. Hill has a good case to sue his former employer – perhaps not for a full restoration of his employment but at last for severance and ability to collect unemployment etc..Courts aren’t upholding vax mandates and it’s pretty clear a jury of his peers would acknowledge his rights and a wrongful termination. Go for it Tim. Foolish corporations still listen to lawsuits.

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