(By James Bahm) Unless you live under a rock, or don’t go on any social media platform, there were some recent layoffs across the country last week that made a few headlines. There are petitions being signed to get some personalities back on the air; and some businesses have protested the firings.
This shows the strength of radio in connecting audiences with businesses through a mutual connection with those “voices in the wind,” to quote Dr. Johnny Fever.
Radio is a powerful medium and, when used properly, pays dividends for everyone who listens. Shawn Dietz said something that I wholeheartedly agree with: these decisions were made by people in another city. People, I believe, who look at a spread sheet or a report without fully considering the person represented on the page in front of them. Or the businesses who enjoy investing in their audiences.
Businesses get radio. Does radio get business?
I love working in radio. Radio is thriving from Bowling Green, Kentucky, to Las Vegas, Nevada — and all places in between! I’ve loved it for almost 30 years and I hope to be a part of it for another 30 — or more. I’ve seen people get let go for myriad reasons, and yes, sometimes it comes down to budget and they could hire two people out of college for what the morning show host is being paid.
Here are some reasons why I question if radio gets business:
1. The people making the decisions aren’t always right.
They may have a fancy title (General Sales Manager, COO, etc.), but not everyone has a clue what they are doing. Show of hands: how many of you have believed the person making decisions for your company shouldn’t have been in that role because they were the owner’s niece’s cousin’s neighbor who knew someone at band camp?
I’ve worked with managers who would say they didn’t know a search re-targeting campaign from a site re-targeting campaign or when to use them, yet they wanted to let someone go for not understanding how to sell a digital campaign to a client.
2. The decisions are never considered from the employee’s perspective.
Ultimately, it’s a bottom-line-driven decision and when talent is let go, management immediately begins the search to replace them. The email to all employees that says “we wish the recently terminated well in their endeavors…” comes across as thoughtless and insincere.
When you must make a decision that affects someone’s livelihood and their ability to support their family, put yourself in their seat for a minute and realize you could be receiving the same news tomorrow.
3. End all non-competes.
Being let go in radio is commonplace for many reading this, and yet management vehemently adheres to holding you to that non-compete. Non-competes are illegal in California and they should be illegal in all states.
Employers have no right to limit one’s ability to make money in their career field because the employer chose to let them go. I completely feel that everyone should not disclose trade secrets; however, to say someone can’t work for a competitor who sees the value of talent and their worth as professionals, is ludicrous — and has no place in 2020. Let the people you let go earn a living.
(This isn’t solely geared to the company in recent headlines, but to smaller stations around the country as well.) If you are so worried about someone walking out of your station into your competitor, then treat them better and do a better job managing and leading.
4. The HR process is broken.
I’ve had to let many people go throughout my career. It’s never an easy decision and each time I do it I feel sick to my stomach. Recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and terminating talent is part of every business. The department is HUMAN Resources. You are dealing with people, many of whom have a family, and your decision is severely limiting their ability to support those who rely on them.
Businesses get radio, they have for about a century now because radio works!
When will those who are tasked with the responsibility of leading markets and stations and talent understand that without the talent around them, they would not have the ability to follow their passion? Talent (on-air, sales, promotions, production) are the real people who connect audiences with clients. They are the backbone of the industry. It’s time for all talent to be recognized and put first.
Bottom Line: The heart of any company is the talent that makes the company possible.
James Bahm is a broadcasting veteran, owner of The Bahm Consulting, a marketing and advertising consulting company in Las Vegas, NV. Email him at [email protected]