Just like any other business on the planet, the main purpose of a commercial radio station is to make money. People that tend to last a long time in our industry, and have sustained success in it, keep that thought in the front of their mind and let it inform their decision making. Conversely, people who wash out quickly or stick around but struggle to climb the ranks, tend to forget it and instead sometimes treat radio more like a hobby. There is only one right reason to work in commercial radio, which I’ll get to in a minute, but a laundry list of wrong reasons why people get into it… here are just a few.
- Because they REALLY love a particular kind of music.
- Because they enjoy talking about things they’re interested in.
- Because they enjoy the sound of their own voice.
- Because they get to meet and hang out with famous people.
- Because they get to dress casually.
- Because it’s a cool way to meet girls or guys.
- Because it’s got flexible hours.
- Because it’s low pressure.
- Because it makes them feel important.
- Because they think it’s an easy job (Spoiler alert: It is not).
Don’t get me wrong there are certainly upsides to being in radio, serving the community, getting to know lots of interesting people, the free stuff, etc. It’s a job that many of us happen to love, which is great as long as that’s channeled properly. It is, and should be, a fun job. But, it is after all a JOB. The right reason to work in commercial radio is to turn a profit by attracting as many people as possible to listen to our station(s) and watch/listen/read our digital content so we can sell the ads contained within those assets for as much as the market will allow. For some on the programming side that stems from a competitive need to defeat the competition, for others it's a desire to attract and entertain the masses, but either way is fine because it still serves the greater good. On the sales front it’s generally either the thrill of closing sales or the satisfaction of helping businesses grow by providing effecting marketing/advertising campaigns, but again while the latter is preferable, either way moves the needle in the right direction.
Stations are no longer sold on potential. The value of a radio station is now tied to just one thing, a multiple of the cash flow that station generates annually (usually around a 5x multiple). Therefore, every person that station compensates for their time’s value to that station is directly tied to their ability to generate that cash flow. If we treat commercial radio like a business, it will reward us. After all it is still a 15.4 billion dollar industry. There’s plenty of money to go around, obviously not all groups distribute that money as fairly as they should, but overall the bulk of it will continue to go to those who are doing this for the right reason.
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