Sports Talk Host, Fired For Not Getting Vaccinated, Starts Own Company To Compete With Former Employer

This is what happens in the aftermath of a disaster. The casualties are strewn about and maybe they recover and maybe they don’t. Maybe they’re remembered, maybe their stories are lost amid the next important thing.

The next more important thing.

Covid-19 and its resulting measures and mandates was like that — and, yes, that’s written in the past tense because the CDC itself has told everyone to treat the former pandemic like just another flu now.

So the masks have come off.

Indoor dining is back.

Not too many vaccine cards are inspected and required for entrance into places.

But now who remembers the casualties?

Who remembers Tim Hill?

He didn’t die from Covid-19. He escaped the actual sickness altogether. But his career didn’t escape.

You’ll recall last October, amid a looming winter spike in cases and with variants en route, Hill was fired from job hosting a daily morning sports talk show on 107.5 The Game in Columbia, South Carolina.

And you’ll recall the reason Hill was fired by Cumulus Media, which owns the station, is because he declined to adhere to their vaccine mandate. And Cumulus declined to accept his request for a mandate exemption.

That left the host of one of the station’s highest rated shows sobbing in his garage for 15 minutes or so because he didn’t know what else really to do.

Well, so many months later and the world seems quite different. Better in some ways. Not quite as good in other ways.

“It’s been weird six-plus months for sure,” Hill said via telephone recently. “Just started a new show and now I kind of feel like my old self again. I’ve felt like an alien the last six months delivering packages for UPS and being a substitute teacher for a couple of months.”

Hill wasn’t hired back by his old employer when the pandemic subsided. Indeed, the two have taken the first steps in what is bound to be an interesting and perhaps unpleasant legal battle.

So Hill went a different direction.

“I just started my own thing,” he said. “I started my own show. I got a website up, I’m calling it Tim Hill Unrestricted Free Agent. And I’m trying to go out on my own. I think I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m meant to do what I was doing and now I’m just going to try to make it work from a small business standpoint.”

Hill livestreams five days a week from 10 a.m. to noon on Youtube and Twitter and Facebook Live and TimHillUFA.com, and some other platforms.

“I feel like I explored every possible avenue and I’m choosing to look at my situation as something that a lot of 44-year-old career people don’t get, which is a chance to re-evaluate and reset,” Hill said. “I just came to the conclusion that I was fortunate enough that I had been doing what I feel I wanted to do most and also what was most helpful for the whole world.”

Hill didn’t just transition to starting his own media company. He did deliver those packages for UPS. He did substitute teach. He did attend a Career in Transition seminar to try to make himself more employable.

But he knew the whole time that working for a conventional media company probably wasn’t going to happen again.

“A lot of them have the vaccine requirement still, especially for their new employees,” Hill said. “So it wasn’t going to be an option for me.”

Hill’s show is in its infancy and he’s still looking for sponsors. But he doesn’t talk about a Plan B if this doesn’t work out.

“There are not a lot of substitute teacher jobs available for guys who want to do a live sports talk show from 10 a.m. to noon,” he said. “I’m going to this next venture full steam ahead.”

And while Hill is now competing for listeners with his former employer every day he’s also taken steps to make them pay for firing him for cause based on a vaccine policy.

“Oh yeah, we’re in the legal process right now,” he said. “First I put in a complaint slash charge with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). They notified Cumulus. Cumulus has to respond, before they responded they reached out to me via the EEOC and said they wanted to have a mediation and I declined.

“So they had to put out their position to defend this charge and then we had to come back and put our position statement out there. And now the EEOC is in the process of investigating.”

Cumulus, who did not return a phone message to their corporate headquarters, is of the position that Hill violated company policy and was therefore fired with cause. The company has stated Hill not being vaccinated presents the company with an “undue burden” for conducting business.

“Radio is done remotely all the time everywhere,” Hill pointed out.

“In my naiveté I was hopeful the legal process would have played out before I started another venture talking about sports but obviously that hasn’t happened. But I just couldn’t keep my life on pause any longer.”

So Hill does his new show every day from the same spot he did it for The Game prior to his firing. Same garage. Same exact table.

And while Hill concedes he has been a vaccine mandate casualty, he doesn’t consider himself a victim.

“No. I choose not to take that mindset,” he said. “I definitely feel victimized professionally but I will not look at myself as a victim. That would be a disservice my kids, my family and it’s just not who I am.”

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.

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