The Law of Average

That’s not a typo.

Averaging is one of the first things students learn after adding and subtracting. Everyone understands it.

For instance, in a 2-person company, if your CEO makes $1 million a year and you make $100,000, the average annual salary in your company is $550,000.

Feel wealthier?

That kind of averaging is what’s caused so much individual stress and loss for most American workers over the past 20-30 years. The 1% stuff.

But there’s another kind of average that is hurting Radio just as much as over-paid CEOs.

Average, used as an adjective.

As Radio has slashed its workforce, with a few notable exceptions, those making the most money have been the first cut. And I’m not just talking about on-ar talent.

GMs (think Mickey Luckoff if you need an example), PDs (I could give you a list of dozens), production directors, copy writers, marketing and promotion talent…you get the point.

Some of Radio’s best talent has been fired, or quit in frustration, over the past decade, and poor executive leadership, PPM, and huge debt loads seem to be accelerating the trend, leaving more stations in more cities with more “average” workers.

The thing is, exceptional talent is always drawn to other exceptional talent. That’s why everyone wanted to work at WLS or Z100 or WBIG or KOST.

That’s why in the NFL the best free agents want to sign with the best teams, the teams most likely to win championships. No great young player wants to take less money to play for the Oakland Raiders or Cleveland Browns.

If you’re great, you want to work with others who are great. Does great talent want to work for your company?

Very few radio stations aspire to greatness from top to bottom these days.

We can attempt to justify this relentless movement to mediocrity, but that doesn’t change the experience of listening to our stations.

Radio is focused inside, on our wants and needs, not on listeners, not even on clients (except maybe for Jerry Lee).

Every great talent you hire, at every position, from receptionist to General Manager, from part-time weekender to morning and afternoon show, from rookie sales person to the most highly connected account executive on your team, raises the average of the whole team.

And because greatness attracts greatness, the bar for the entire station keeps rising.

We’ve tried the cheaper method for 25+ years, the averaging that pays the guys at the top huge salaries while those creating the product and selling it are paid less and less, or replaced by over-worked voice-trackers and untrained AEs desperate to hang on to their jobs.

How’s that worked out for us, as an industry?

The Law of Average says there’s another, better way.

The change we need is at the top of our companies so we can afford the changes we need at the station level.

We need our “average” to go up. We need to be great again.

And that requires more exceptional people, in every position, inside your station.

jaws of average