A lesson in the inevitable
Years ago, when I programmed KIMN in Denver, my then boss, Steve Keeney, used to have me prepare a list of potential replacements for every programming job, including my own.
It was a good exercise, on many levels, and led me to develop a Hot File of talent, programmers, and marketing aces, which I update and maintain to this day. In fact, one of the services I provide most is connecting talent — programming, on-air, research, and marketing — with station opening, because over the years, I’ve developed a reputation for doing it quickly and well.
The exercise also forced me to consider my own replacement.
I remember a friend in the industry telling me an aprocryphal story the day I became a Program Director for the first time. You may have heard it as well:
Seems a PD was “retiring” and as he welcomed the new, incoming PD into his office, he gave her 3 sealed and numbered envelopes. “Use these in order when things get really tough; they’ll help you meet the storms program directors inevitably face.”
Sure enough, 3 months later, ratings arrived and they were awful, so she opened up the first envelope. It said, “Blame your predecessor.” She did, and it worked. She was given more time to produce her own results.
Next book, the news was still bad, and she was really feeling the heat, so she opened the second envelope, and it said simply, “Change the Morning Show.” She told her GM the Morning Show talent was too weak to win, so he let her hire a new one, and bought herself a full year.
But, even after a year, ratings were horrible, and she was desperate for something to telll her GM, so she opened the third envelope. It said, “Prepare 3 envelopes.”
If you’re a programmer, or a GM these days, you already know how insecure your job is, no matter how long you’ve been with your company.
We are all seen as expendable, and while that is clearly a short-sighted view, you and I aren’t really in control of what those further up the food chain think. And we are probably the targets in envelopes #1 and #2.
So, what can you to prepare yourself for that inevitable day?
We have wonderful jobs, even in this era of consolidated radio, because we get paid to touch people’s hearts every day, to make a real, positive impact on millions of lives daily.
Appreciation, and a sense of gratitude, are always appropriate, but if you prepare now, you’ll be able to survive the storms that are inevitable in every radio life.