For many years there seemed to be a widely held theory within our industry that it was relatively easy to fill certain open positions at radio groups. Mainly because it had been that way for quite a while thanks to consolidation, mass firings at the bigger groups and how virtually all groups are running with less staff with every passing year. I remember as a hiring manager the hundreds of emails and resumes I would have to sort through for any job I would post. So many that I’d have to setup separate email folders to weed it down to the handful of true prospects. However, I believe we’ve already turned a corner on those days of getting to choose from a vast number of qualified applicants that are all willing to work within our budget and uproot to move to our cities.
There are two positions that have been the most effected so far in my opinion. Beginning about a decade ago qualified and experienced radio engineers became incredibly hard to find and many available candidates were either good at just RF or just IT and not necessarily both. There’s two main challenges for this position, first, anyone smart enough to be a radio engineer is certainly smart enough to work in a handful of other industries related to engineering and tech that pay significantly better than radio. Secondly, many of the existing, talented and experienced radio engineers are simply aging out of the business and there’s a very small pool of young engineers coming up to replace them for the reason listed above. Because of that, as an industry I think we’re going to have to wrap our heads around paying much higher salaries for these positions or get creative by using remote monitoring and Zoom to utilize supplemental off-site engineers who only travel to the market for big projects and regularly scheduled maintenance (This is already happening in a lot of groups and markets.) It’s also not a bad idea to train anyone on staff with a technical mind how to maintain/operate/hook up some of the basic equipment regardless of their job title (The more redundancy we have on this front the better going forward.)
The second position that’s been the most effected already, and appears to have worsened since the pandemic began, is on-air talent capable of creating live, local and engaging content daily on-air, online and on-site. Which makes sense, based on the unique skillset required and the amount of time it takes to excel on-air, it’s a position we’ve undervalued for years. Plus, many stations have moved away from regular aircheck sessions because they’re often misconstrued as either ‘too uncomfortable’ or ‘unnecessary for experienced talent’, both of which aren’t true. Also, not unlike engineers, there aren’t nearly as many young people trying to break in as there used to be and with each passing day there’s more demand for content creators in other industries (Where some of those same skillsets can be utilized, ie podcasting, social/web video content, etc.) All of that means that we no longer have those deep of benches of eager up-and-coming talent to replace retiring talent, or the ones that have simply left to go to another industry all-together. My suggestion for remedying the shortage of air talent is to A) value the one’s that we currently have, B) pay them more, C) aircheck everyone regardless of how long they’ve been doing it, D) continue training/pushing them on digital content creation and E) utilize outside coaching (Somewhat selfish solution for me to throw out but I do believe it’s necessary.)
What do you think? Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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