The latest AQ5 survey from Jacobs Media was fully unveiled on Wednesday, providing an intriguing snapshot of the current state of radio talent, revealing their motivations, concerns, and the challenges they face in an industry under transformation.
More than 500 current and former radio personalities, hosts, and producers across the US gave their thoughts on artificial intelligence’s current and future effects on radio to the multiple roles that on-air talent are juggling, and whether they have a secondary source of income.
The vast majority, 80.5%, of those surveyed said they are in radio because it’s fun, emphasizing that passion remains a significant driver in this industry. Most respondents indicated that their ultimate professional goal is being happy and working with good people. The pandemic and the consequent work-from-home setups have left an indelible mark on station culture. Four in 10 respondents claimed that work/life balance is still elusive, highlighting that the industry has not yet returned to “normal.”
The survey uncovers a concerning gulf between male and female talent regarding women’s upward mobility in the industry, highlighting the need for more equitable opportunities.
Radio personalities are increasingly multi-faceted in their roles. More than one-third reported wearing four or more hats for the first time, pointing to a trend of expanding duties within stations.
Although down from 2022, nearly 60% are worried about a recession or staff reductions. This economic uncertainty has led to nearly three in ten talents pursuing side hustles for additional income. Many feel taken for granted, a sentiment especially prevalent among major companies, who have major reputational work to do.
This particularly applies to talent development. The survey found that most talents believe their stations or companies are not doing enough to discover or groom new air talent. In contrast, medium and small companies stand out as exceptions and could potentially become the go-to destination for talents.
Artificial Intelligence is largely perceived as a threat by air talent, raising concerns about potential job losses within the industry. Yet, few see it as a core skill they need to acquire.
While two-thirds of those surveyed said they still are very passionate about radio, very few would now recommend a career in the industry. Just over one in four talents feel that radio is keeping pace with audio competitors like Spotify and SiriusXM, suggesting room for improvement in the competitive landscape. Millennials have a growing uncertainty that they’ll finish their careers in radio.
Lastly, and to that effect, it’s worth noting that for talent “on the beach,” four of ten say they’re giving up on the industry amid all the difficulties, marking a concerning trend.
Full study findings and the webinar are on the Jacobs Media website.