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December 02, 2009



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I'm 27, and will be so bold as to say that I'm a very capable radio broadcaster, communicator, and manager. Fueled by my Internet-savvy, digitally-enhanced upbringing and now 10 years of experience in radio, my head is filled with ideas for the future of the radio industry. My vision of the present is not clouded by the successes experienced in the past. By more accurately assessing the present, I think young people like me have the best chance of creating a new future for radio.

The problem is that there's not many of us interested in radio, anymore. Those of us who are interested are eventually so put-off by how incredibly tight our older co-workers cling the the "good 'ole way" of doing things. It's next to impossible to teach old radio dogs new digital tricks. Mostly, because they're not really interested.

I am leaving radio soon. Completely leaving the industry. I'm tired of fighting for something that should be so obvious. I'm tired of horrendous hours and an employee pay scale that resembles that of a McDonalds.

The same can be said for a number of talented individuals I went to college with. People with more talent and drive than I could ever hope to have. Many of them left radio long ago, regretting investing their money in educating themselves in FCC regulations, microphone pick-up patterns, and how they used to spin vinyl records and load reel-to-reels back in the "good 'ole days".

I'm growing bitter, I understand this. But, growing bitter with good reason. I cannot wait to get out of this cesspool of old-ways and negative thinking.

Bill Butler


You are a voice of reason in the darkness. Radio needs to connect to the local community in order to be effective. In the past large National accounts covered most of the operating costs and local ads were gravy on the bottom line. This led to a detached attitude toward the local community as long as they turned out for the national sponsor's big events, chili cookoffs, sporting events, Department store openings, etc. radio was serving its purpose. Now the national accounts are pulling back and the station ownership is crying about the bottom line. If they had nurtured the local businesses this would be their sustenance over the next two years.
You also mentioned the sales staff. We have offered a course in broadcast sales for the past thirty years and I have tried to get stations to send their new AE's to the school for training in how to interact with clients. We have seen no response and we continue to see high turnover in these jobs because they do not know how to sell to businesses. The new blood comes in, without doing any research and tells the local merchant their ratings, the merchant doesn't care, they try to offer the special, which has higher rates then the last time the merchant bought, again the merchant doesn't care, they offer free streaming, the merchant really doesn't care. Why? Because the AE doesn't know what they are talking about or to whom they are talking. When you own your own business and have owned it for ten years or more, you don't want some fresh face out of college who only wants to own a porsche, calling you Jim, or Jack or Bill when your name should be Mr. xxxx. Get it. They don't. Training how to sell is important if you want to grow. Apparently radio has forgotten that.

Bill Butler
Columbia School of Broadcasting

Bill Sepmeier

For local content believers, there's good news.

Clear Channel has reportedly purchased some 400 remote control systems, which it will monitor from an operations center in Cincinnati. (The National Supervisory Network source code was owned by Jacor when CC bought it in 1997, not that there's hardware around today, 12 years later, that would run it...)

If CC's hedge fund management is going to sat-feed 400 stations/markets and centrally monitor and operate them, ala NSN, it would appear they've given up on radio and opted to establish a "terrestrial XM/Sirius" business model to further cut costs.

If this rumor is fact - then this should represent the far point in the "radio is a computer" pendulum's arc...

Art Morris

Local! Local! Local! How many times can we stay it? And, why are so few at the highest levels listening?
I feel like I'm screaming in an empty room. I've been carrying the localism banner for many years, and everybody that actually WORKS in radio knows its true.
But, by and large, the decision-makers in our business simply don't understand. Radio is not like any other business. We are a sales and marketing business, which by definition means that we must TAKE THE LEAD!
When radio takes the lead in programming, news, public affairs, and local involvement, we become the go-to media. And, that results in sales, revenue, jobs and profits.
Why is this so hard to understand?
Are we going to completely collapse before we figure out the link between serving the community and profit?
While we may disagree about the details of Eric's argument, we know his conclusion is sound!

Art Morris

Steve Casey

"There is money to be made even in a declining industry, and most industries cycle back eventually" I don't think so. What industry? Buggy whip manufacturers? American car companies? Newspapers? Anyway, we are not an industry. We're just one of many distribution channels for information and entertainment. There is absolutely no reason to believe that anything will cycle back. And overwhelming experience to show that it will not. Instead, we must pull out our heads and focus on the things we could do but so far mostly choose not to do better than an iPod. It's all about local (as in relevant, not as in within 5 miles) human communications.

Tim Schwieger


I have always admired your wisdom and your positive solutions for broadcasting over the years. Instead of expecting others to ring the bell this time, how about YOU actually pull the rope. Go lead a real radio station or group of stations to success using the advice you are dishing out. I think Eric Rhodes leading BY EXAMPLE would really be a "bell ringer" for an entire industry that clearly needs positive news. Once a broadcaster, always a broadcaster…right Eric?

al mair

What data indicates radio hasn't lost its hold on the youth market?

Michael Olson


Great comments. I posted them for all to see and read. Localism Rules!

Michael Olson

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