You’re the Executive Producer and star…
Radio, as a profession, has been changing in the United States since the mid-1980s and the rise of consolidation.
From that viewpoint, what’s happening today is neither sudden nor unexpected.
Still, worldwide events that began with the financial debt crisis of 2007, and the collapse of the residential real estate bubble in 2008 have created a new reality if you’re an air talent on a commercial radio station.
If you think your only job is to show up on time, crack a few jokes on your show, do your production, and hit the door, you’re about to be replaced.
As trillions of dollars were wiped off balance sheets, savings accounts and 401K’s in the past 3-4 years, your job description changed.
To use simple round numbers, if your radio market used to be worth $100 million, the great financial collapse of 2008 instantly turned it into a $70 million market.
If your station used to take 7% of that $100 million, say roughly $7 million, it has to grab 10% of the new pie to hit the target. And it has to do this when the options for advertisers have never been greater, and when — increasingly — advertisers expect measurable accountability for their investment, something Radio still can’t provide.
Even that understates the problem radio sales teams face because, in most markets, rates have dropped since 2007, regardless of what you read. Money’s tight; we’re all squeezing our wallets, even advertisers.
And the US and global economy is not getting stronger. Even stagnation is tenuous right now. Ask any economist or station owner in Europe. If China’s real estate or stock market bubbles burst, Katie bar the doors.
What does this mean for you, the air talent? For starters, an attitude adjustment.
It is now part of your job to do everything you can to help your station hit their revenue targets.
That means volunteering to go on sales calls with important clients.
It means offering to produce spec spots if a sales person thinks you may make a difference between a close and a rejection.
It means willingly doing appearances, even when you’re not getting a talent fee.
It means working as hard to win clients as you have been working to win listeners, and doing everything you can to show clients the money they spend on your show is a productive investment in their success.
It means changing perceptions inside the station, especially within the sales department, using as much focus and energy as you’ve centered on the words you use on-air.
You can say it’s not fair, you can say that is not my job, but I think you’ll be saying that from the unemployment line if you say it too loudly.
Truth is, you’ve always been a sales person, selling yourself every day on your show.
It’s just that now you have to spend at least as much energy selling yourself internally, helping your station land business, as you ever did on your show.
Successful air talent has always known this!
You may not like it, but that’s your new reality in radio.