I don’t envy the managers who are forced to make hard ugly choices in these turbulent fiscal times. Basic understanding of the budgeting process tells you that if revenue is down 30%, then one of the biggest line items in the budget, talent will also have to cut it’s expenses 30%.
Do the math. If you have a staff of 5 jocks, an off air PD, off air music director and a offering of ancillary help something is going to have to go. 30% of 5 jocks equal 1.5 persons. 30% of 3 jocks equals the elimination of 1 person. And so it goes.
It is very hard to find a station these days that has the full compliment of promo, imaging, production and programming aids like the staffs of just five years ago. That supplemental help is all but gone. That leaves off air PDs, off air MDs and what’s left of a station’s talent pool to fend for themselves as management strives to find a balance between manpower and a sustainable budget.
Unfortunately the revenue stream just isn’t there so neither is the money to pay for everything and everybody. So waves of cuts emerge. Some argue that cutting talent is like dumping excess fuel from the tank so the engine gets better gas mileage. Yes, it is true that the fewer the talent, the more of a work load, the less robust the content offering. Blah blah blah…. All true but it simply doesn’t matter. The old model is almost gone, gone, gone. The future is muddled and bewildering.
Out of the ashes of what used to be we will have to craft the new model of what can be and what will be. Here’s a few suggestions to think about as you try to stay on this ever shifting train that’s having a hard time staying on the tracks.
• Embrace the fewer employee model and find ways to make it as robust as possible.
• Think of the radio station as more of a clubhouse where a few good friends get together and create good fun content throughout the day.
• Expect your workday to be 12 hour a day every day. Embrace it, find work you enjoy and simply do more of it no matter what HR says about the amount of hours you’re allowed per week.
• Find more than one thing you can do. Combos include PD and on air work, web development and on air work, MD and imaging, etc, etc. (Yes, I know that this is a reality for many already) In other words think of your place at the station as a multimedia art project where you’ll work in paint, pencil, collage, etc etc. You’ll have to master as many of those mediums as possible to create the final piece of art.
• Use this seemingly crazy streamlined business model as an excuse to formulate a new sound for your station(s) that is interesting and sustainable day after day.
• Use automation as an opportunity to craft more robust listening experiences instead of less stimulating occurrences.
• Learn to use interns to gather self-syndicated content to be recycled in other day parts and other days. If it was good the first time it deserves more than one airing.
• Don’t lament too much about the past and what was. This challenging market may be just the kick in the pants your brain needs to generate something new any interesting.
Yes, I really believe that all this stuff is attainable and totally doable once you’re ready to do something new and exciting. It is what it is. You might as well embrace it!
“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish. We propose to accelerate the development of the appropriate lunar spacecraft. We propose to develop alternate liquid and solid fuel boosters, much larger than any now being developed, until certain which is superior.
In a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the Moon–if we make this judgment affirmatively, it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there.”
John F. Kennedy made that speech in 1961. By the Summer of ’69 we were walking the moon. Hell, our current challenge will be barely perceived as a footnote comparatively. Damn the financial torpedoes… Full speed ahead!