And this proves it.
It’s always been a false premise that talent is an expense.
It’s always been a false premise that those running our largest Radio companies have no choice but to fire those who create the content Radio sells.
Bonneville proves it.
Well, you say, they don’t have any debt to worry about so their situation is different than iHeart’s and Entercom’s.
To which I reply, exactly!
Our largest consolidated radio companies became the largest with massive debt. No one held a gun to their head and forced them to keep buying over-priced stations.
They never even risked their own money, and they never lost their own money when they eventually declared bankruptcy and were allowed to restructure — walking away from tens of millions of dollars they owed and could not repay.
But even given that escape route, they’re still over-leveraged.
And even if they weren’t, don’t you get the sense that they’d seize any chance to cut employees, especially high-priced talent?
Because they still can’t figure out how to make enough money to keep the stock price rising so they hit their bonus numbers which are worth tens of millions of dollars to the top executives running these groups..
Don’t you believe their eventual goal is basically a national product, or at the least regional to time zones, where they pay one staff and pipe the product into dozens or hundreds of cities?
The irony is, Radio should be the beneficiary in this time of Covid because no mass media is as local and personal as locally-staffed and managed radio stations.
Have you read this article in Rolling Stone?
“While music fans faced with a sprawling field of streaming options may not need music radio, many in the radio community would argue that they do still need their DJs. ‘You can hear your songs everywhere, but these personalities that you listen to and grow up with can be the calming, soothing voice to help you feel better, escape, or give you information and news,’ says Keith Dakin, the vice president of programming for a smaller radio company that owns about 14 stations on the East Coast.”
The inability of radio to serve its basic function of being the voice of its community, the prevalence of voice-tracked programming, and the complete lack of staffing on the information side of music radio stations has spotlighted the failure of consolidated radio groups to meet their license obligation.
Consolidation was never about making Radio in America better for listeners and their local communities.
It was about making some people very, very rich.
I understand that these are unprecedented times, that millions of businesses are shut and on the verge of closing permanently, and that radio revenue has plummeted.
Commercial radio isn’t alone in facing this challenge. The CEO of NPR sent an internal memo warning of cost-cutting, but note this part:
“Despite the sponsorship and donation shortfall, NPR has no immediate plans to cut jobs. The nonprofit media organization currently employs 700 people”.
” ‘We do not have any position eliminations on the table now, and it is our goal to avoid them as much as is reasonably possible,” Lansing wrote. “However, I don’t have a crystal ball so I can’t guarantee anything other than that is my intent.’ ”
“Lansing says the cuts will likely come primarily by freezing new hiring, bonuses and raises, along with scaling back travel, conferences and promotions.” *(Source: The Hill)
There are probably small local radio owners doing everything they can to keep from firing any of their staff.
Thank God for them. They understand how important their station is to their community, a community they live in and to which they feel a deep responsibility.
Meanwhile, I tip my hat to Bonneville for showing the rest of Radio how to lead, because leadership is where it all starts.
It starts with a commitment to the employees who help build the company, not to the stock options by which current management hopes to get even richer.