I Don’t Know

What I don’t know!

It’s time for our monthly update from Barb Richards, former award-winning programmer and air talent who decided to proactively find a new channel for her talent and passion.

After decades devoted singularly to one radio station in the same community, she is starting a new phase of her life, and has generously offered to share her triumphs and her struggles each month.

Four months into the new gig and here is my biggest challenge: I don’t know what I don’t know.

We are heading into our biggest fund-raising event of the year (remember, I now work for a non-profit) called, ‘The Festival of Trees.’

The other day someone said to me, ‘What about the special tree stands?’  What special tree stands, and where do I find them? Eek! Then, this kind person says, ‘Have you gotten the sleigh for the stage?’ What sleigh? I don’t know about a sleigh! I later found a business card in my rolodex that had a picture of a sleigh, and made the call. Got the sleigh!

I don’t know what I don’t know, but I do know that I am intelligent enough to find a solution.

Another radio skill here you guys: Radio taught me how to think on my feet!

This month is about the transition phase out of Radio because I want to talk about opportunities for you related to Radio.

I checked in with a friend who was recently let go from her radio station and she was excitedly discovering that there are a lot of opportunities to freelance her talent. And that is true. There are a lot of people we all know who have their own businesses which are related to radio. It takes hard work to constantly sell oneself and to garner the business but if you are motivated, you can be successful. And many radio people are the VERY motivated type.

Large radio companies have been hiring people to freelance air shifts from their home into markets across the world. I tried to crack the code on this one but was not successful. But grab it if you can! Most of the people I know that are doing this worked for the company and took the freelance gig as they were being downsized. Your best bet is to look at the corporate web sites, apply for everything, and use your networking skills and contacts.

Others start radio production companies. I have always done a fair share of voice work but I never got to the point where I had enough repeat business to make it lucrative. If you’re in larger markets, it is probably easier to make a living that way. I never had the technical savvy or desire to get into the production side of it. I was the ‘lay down the voice track and leave’ person. But for those that have the skill set, production can be very lucrative and I know many people who are making a good living out of it. And many have been doing it for years.

Getting on a few stations as the station’s ‘voice’ or station imaging is also out there and available. This area, in my brief exploration of it, seemed extremely competitive. There are sites to market your voice. There are ways to get this going in your life/ If you have the time to build this, it can work out well.

Books on tape, voice-overs for major companies training videos, web voice-overs — all are our there, all take time and research, but are worth consideration because of your skill set and background.

Social networking has been a nice freelance career that several of my radio friends are doing now. We do understand social netowrking a lot more than many of those running their own small local business. Look for mom and pop shops and offer to do their posts. My friend has been doing it for years and has now evolved into a full service ad agency. Prime exmaple of taking your talents and translating them into a business of your own! And, he didn’t have to move.

I did look at these opportunities but decided my personality didn’t fit the lifestyle. I love it when the business comes my way and drops into my lap. I’m not so good at drumming up the business. That’s a surprise for people who know me, as I am a decent sales person when it comes to sponsorships, support, etc. My concern? I worry about the money side of it so much that it sort of freezes me from moving forward. I know this about myself. I learned this during my first couple of radio jobs when I had to do both on-air work and sales. My life is better, for me, with a regular paycheck.

There are many people who do freelance and are very successful. I know many of you and you have my respect and admiration.
It is never easy to leave a career you’ve loved. Barb is proving, month after month that it can be done. There is life after Radio, and it can be emotionally — and financially — rewarding. Just keep knocking until that door opens, and walk through every open door until you find the next one that’s right for you.