Saturday, July 18, 2009
WHAT WENT WRONG ON OUR SIDE
You will have to be in this business longer than 10 years to remember the following. When radio station’s had openings and they actually recruited for the best sounding talent available to fit the motif in place. Program Director’s would have openings and search the Country, without streaming and MP3’s to find talent. Networking and hard work applied on the employers part to find talent that fit the direction of the station. You knew you had to be of certain caliber to apply for certain jobs in radio, regardless of the format. Salaries and benefits were instinctual. You never dictated your own level of involvement, we worked weekends and didn’t care, not one person complained. Or there was a Gerry Cagle story about a full-timer that told Cagle he didn’t want to work Sundays, he would miss football, Cagle told him (in Cagle style), you don’t have anything to worry about now, you have seven days off and fired the jock. We worked hard, we didn’t clock watch, and radio station’s had a magnetic sound, that catered to the listener and only the listeners. Sales departments and General Managers were not involved with the product identity of the stations. They sold spots and plenty of them. At KFRC on 415 Bush St, there was a drinking fountain, it was the line between business/sales/management and programming/engineering. Now to find a job, you need to fit in, not with the sound of the station, but the game, politics and that crucial piece of the puzzle, how low will you take the job for and how close do you live to the opening without massive relocation costs. There are very little students of radio left, who can tell you about how they loved KHJ, Z-100, WMAQ, KLOS or WLS. They have been at their twenty thousand something job for 7-10 years in one market, they think the world in flat once you get passed the city limit sign. The smaller the market, the worse it is. Talent at smaller stations are worrying about everything but making the radio stations sound great. There is no welcome to the outside world and what exists at today’s winning radio stations regardless of format. I was called a “hard ass, or bull in a China cabinet” because I ask talent to be part of the process and made it my number one priority and let no one deviate from it. One GM asks me if I was ever in the military. Managers began finding sacred cows and protecting them from programmers. Thanks We loved new trends, great new ways of producing sweepers, a jingle that sounded better than the flavor of the week, Crazy-ass promos and legal ID’s. Find me someone that cares about this today and I will show you a rarity – And now ask me what is wrong with radio today. We need to stop blaming the owners and operators of radio stations and casting dispersions on the companies – Most of this problem is one we let transpire. We let talent for the last 10 years dictate their level of involvement in the process of winning radio and hid our head in the sands. Who's responsible for today's mess, not just manager and operators, but the talent and the program director's. Everyone is to blame. Now get involved in the product again, mend the fences and start creating great radio that has a street and social buzz to it.