What We Can Do Following The Recent Rash Of Firings
A "perfect storm" is the convergence of various events to cause a perfect disaster scenario. The dark cloud hanging over radio at the moment is a rash of firings because of the convergence of events:
-Clear Channel recently turned the CEO position over to Bob Pittman, who now holds complete bottom-line responsibility. He has to lead Clear Channel out of its debt problems and improve its balance sheet, but he insists these are not cost cuts, but a change in how the company is approaching programming. In any case, it has resulted in lost jobs.
-Cumulus recently completed its purchase of Citadel and has been systematically eliminating people throughout the company. Though there is no official word on this, it appears some of the first to go are the people who have a long legacy with the company and thus have large compensation packages from decades of employment with ABC/Disney and Citadel.
-Dial Global's acquisition of Westwood One has meant the elimination of some duplicated positions.
It's a dark time for many in the radio industry who have found themselves out of work. Others are wondering if they are next.
Judging these employers and their motives is simply not useful. Name-calling and second-guessing aren't productive, and calling them evil serves no purpose. Like it or not, this is a reality of the radio industry today.
What is productive is to help these displaced people move forward, help them find work or retrain for other industries, and help them deal with the issues they are facing.
Our Role In Helping
We each have a social responsibility to help others in the industry. Any of us could be next.
Here is what I plan to do. It may not be much, but at least I feel like I'm helping:
1. Free classified ads at RadioInk.com for all out-of-work radio people. We will run these ads for free as long while you are out of work, and they'll be seen by more than 30,000 people every day. I encourage all the trade press to do the same. We've created a "Pros On the Loose" page at www.RadioInk.com where these listings will appear, to help those who need employees to find readily available people. Send your information to Ed Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. We will create a webinar for displaced radio people. I have asked my team to orchestrate a webinar as rapidly as possible. Our plan is to find experts to help you deal with the emotion of the situation, and experts to advise you about the steps you need to be taking now, and advise you on retraining since there will be fewer radio opportunities. Plus we will find a marketing expert to teach you the best techniques for finding work, crafting a job search strategy, and marketing yourself. Everyone who's out of work should attend.
3. Free subscriptions for out-of-work radio people. Any out-of-work industry executive can receive a free subscription to the Radio Ink Digital Edition, which is the same as the Radio Ink printed magazine, with expanded content. This will help you stay informed about industry trends. Simply e-mail email@example.com, and we'll set you up. We'll waive the subscription fee for the time you're out of work.
4. The Radio Brain Trust. You may be out of work, but you're not out of ideas. Radio Ink will soon be creating an interactive page called the "Radio Brain Trust," where you'll post your comments, suggestions, and ideas for a stronger radio industry. I'm convinced that radio cannot cost-cut its way to success. (If Apple had done that, it would be Dell.) Ideas, creativity from the best minds in the business to reinvent the business are important. Make your ideas known (you don't have to be out of work to participate) for all to use. The spirit of giving ideas to radio will return to you tenfold because you'll be helping the industry we love. Don't assume the people running radio groups or stations won't listen. A single station picking up on an idea and turning it into a success will result in emulation throughout the industry.
Here is what you can do to help those out of work:
1. Moral Support.
People need you to listen and be there for them and to keep them upbeat. Give them hope.
2. Self-Esteem Preservation.
The first time I got fired, my self-esteem crashed. Though people know that the company made changes, we must not forget that others did not lose their jobs, and the self-esteem of those who did may be suffering. Do what you can to help them.
3. Introductions to Possible Employers.
Introduce out-of-work friends to people in and out of the industry that you think might be in need of good people.
4. Check In Often.
When I was out of work, I heard from lots of friends in the first week and then I was forgotten. People need to feel others are interested in them.
5. Buy Lunch.
My rule is that when someone is out of work, I buy. Help them keep their expenses low. They may need every dime. And invite them to lunch: They need someone to bounce ideas off of.
6. Offer Feedback.
When you're out of work, it's hard to see the forest for the trees. Help with the resume, the aircheck, the demo tape. Offer perspective.
7. Offer Help.
Those who have jobs should do what they can to help those in need. If there is a way you can offer anything to help them save money, reduce an expense, or help in a pinch, it will go a long way.
8. Keep It Positive.
Pity parties do no good. Slamming the former employer does no good. Negativity breeds negativity, and no one wants to hire a negative or bitter person.
9. Project Work.
Many of us have projects we need done, and there are a lot of very qualified people who would be willing to make a few bucks extra and to be busy. Throw some projects their way.
Let's Not Demonize Radio Companies
Radio boards and blogs will be buzzing about how badly people were treated, how terrible this is for the industry, and how this industry is sliding downhill and not taking care of its people. As much as you think these companies are run by heartless villains, they have to protect their businesses and make them as effective and profitable as possible, or even more jobs will be lost. I know that many a CEO lost sleep over these decisions as well. No one likes it. Plus, like it or not, change is usually good and can strengthen radio and radio companies. Let's not live in the past. We cannot return to "the good old days," but we can turn these into great days by keeping a positive outlook. Let's move on. Though it's not easy to say when you've been impacted, businesses have to make tough decisions to remain strong. Negativity about radio companies brings negativity about radio. Don't buy in to it.
Radio Remains Strong
Radio has always been a survivor. No one ever likes change, especially forced change. But at the end of the day, radio will remain strong, and we'll all live to continue our mission of great broadcasting another day.
Know We're Rooting For You
To those who have found yourself out of work, I think I can speak for most of the industry and say that our hearts go out to you. I personally will do what I can to help you make a positive leap to the next opportunity in your life, and I suspect that you'll get the same positive support from your sisters and brothers in this industry. You will emerge from this darkness to bigger and better things.
Thanks for listening.