Those are the words of veteran radio consultant Jason Barrett who says in his latest blog, “The Cold Dose of Radio Reality,” that a radio company’s primary responsibility is to make sure your check clears every two weeks, and provide you with access to the building to showcase your talent either on-air or behind the scenes during the hours you’re assigned to work. Your contributions matter, Barrett says, but in the grand scheme of everything, we’re all still replaceable parts. Some may have greater value, but none of us are irreplaceable.
Barrett says one of the most common mistakes people make in radio is believing that their contributions to a company entitles them to something greater. “Managers believe the brands they run are ‘their radio stations’ and the hosts, producers and contributing members all feel their presence and value to a brand is vital and difficult to replace. Their contributions certainly do matter, especially to those they work with, but in the grand scheme of everything, we’re all still replaceable parts. Some may have greater value, but none of us are irreplaceable.”
Barrett says that as an employee, if you’re smart, you’ll appreciate and take advantage of everything at your station because that experience will benefit you no matter where you go in the future. “As we all know, the only thing guaranteed in radio is that something will eventually change. Many people desire to work in this industry, so there’s always going to be someone standing behind you wanting what you have and willing to accept the position at a fraction of the cost.”
“Too often I hear complaints about the way companies operate. A host may not like what they’re being asked to focus on from a content standpoint or they may feel restricted from using specific words or tackling certain stories. Producers bitch about the pay, demands of the job, and hours involved to tackle each task. Programmers become frustrated when companies push self-serving initiatives on them, market managers meddle with their product, and corporate folks limit their ability to hire or retain good people. In many cases I’ve agreed with their concerns, but whether I think they’re right or not, it’s still about convincing those above you to reevaluate a situation because they ultimately have the final say. There is no Mr. Cumulus, Mr. Entercom or Mr. iHeart standing in your way. There are people tasked with representing each company and looking out for its business interests, even if it means halting your plans and complicating your situation.”
And Barrett also has advice for managers. “The station you manage may be part of your identity, and you may love it dearly, but it is not your property. The company owns the brand, you simply operate it. The day you leave, the show goes on. You may not like the direction of where the ship sails next, but it’s no longer your ship to steer when you take your hands off the wheel.”
The point behind his latest column, Barrett says, isn’t to cast a black cloud over the industry, it’s to provide broadcasters with a cold dose of reality. “Radio is a business, but the line of work you do is special. The people around you share a similar enthusiasm for sports, and it’s a common bond which brings us all together to distract us from the pressures we face each day in life. Yes it’s a job, but it’s a rewarding one whether you’re making $8 an hour or seven figures.”