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

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 is where Cumulus chose to go, I knew I had to go in a different direction."

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero