I’ve been talking about this for decades now. Clearly, I’ve had no impact on behavior in our industry.
I get it: I’m a very tiny fish in this ocean of Radio. Most have never heard of me, much less from me, and many who have, at least in the top executive ranks of our business, don’t agree with anything I espouse.
“The shift toward talent as the most important source of corporate value has continued.”
“This trend could have been weakened by historic levels of unemployment, which have made labor plentiful. But plentiful labor is not the same as plentiful talent, and the pandemic seems to be leading an increasing number of talent-forward companies to take an “employees first” approach.“
“Plentiful labor is not the same as plentiful talent.”
You will never convince me that air talent is not at the very heart of radio business.
It all starts with your talent. Every other business understands this, from Google to Netflix. Why should Radio be different?
Without talent, Radio is just a music box, and not a very good one compared to the other music boxes, Apple Music and Spotify.
National radio? Sirius/XM invested in Howard Stern. Spotify just invested $100 million to entice Joe Rogan to their platform.
‘Who is Joe Rogan,’ you’re asking? My point exactly. Most of the world has no idea who he is, but he is talented, has the #1 podcast in America and Spotify saw the value and acted.
Who has your company staked their future on?
In almost every case, it’s your CEO and IF your CEO was a visionary like, say, Steve Jobs or Elon Musk, that could be understandable. But everyone in our business knows your CEO is not a visionary. Your CEO is a numbers-cruncher approved by Wall Street.
Your CEO sees the product of Radio as an expense to be continually trimmed.
Thinking of air talent as an unnecessary expense rather than our singular asset began shortly after consolidation, as these new, huge radio companies went public.
As debt climbed to un-repayable levels, and as Wall Street financiers demanded unsustainable profits, the leaders of these big companies began firing the very people who made Radio worth the investment to begin with. Those they didn’t fire outright had their salaries slashed with a clear message heard by all air talent: “You are a liability. You are not worth paying to keep.“
Our unnecessarily weak condition became crystal clear on September 11, 2001 when you couldn’t find a music station anywhere in America that could cover what was happening to our nation. They’d fired their news staffs a few years earlier. They’d fired the air talent that could have — would have — anchored that day of national anxiety and grief.
Music radio was left to run the news feeds of local or national TV. That’s so embarrassing, like our supposedly “greatest nation on earth” having to beg China and South Korea for face masks and test kits once Covid struck. (You can read more about our national diminishment HERE and HERE. Two completely different people agree on what is clearly evident.)
In every crisis, opportunity awaits the bold and visionary.
I don’t expect any CEO running one of our large consolidated radio companies to change a system that is rewarding them so well personally.
I’m hoping there’s a former owner, or someone with resources and vision, that sees the opportunity Radio now has, just as the smartest business leaders in other fields understand that this is the very time to go big on talent, because it’s available!
It starts with one owner, one city, one station willing to invest in really talented people, directed (and protected) by a really talented programmer.
Once the exception has proved the rule, others will follow.
Who among you and your contacts can see a better way, a different future?
Who sees that the product of Radio is not an important thing, but the only thing we have to sell?
Who understands that the difference between winners and losers is the vision to see what’s possible when hope turns into faith, and faith becomes truth?
Who’s ready to lead rather than follow?