It seems like no matter what line of work you’re in, someone is finding a way to take your job away. If you’re in coal mining, you think the EPA is doing it to you. If you’re in manufacturing, you think its Mexico or China or some other country that pays their workers less and offers no benefits. But is that really what’s happening to jobs?
Where are the (Radio) Jobs?
I got into radio when I was in high school because I wanted to be a disc jockey. (Discs were what records were once called. Records were how we played music on the radio off of turntables, after live musicians were replaced by recorded music on the radio.) My DJ days are long behind me, but I don’t remember anyone from my earliest days being upset that records replaced the need for live musicians to play music on the radio. Do you?
I was also a musician. Played trombone. This was another way I earned money to go to college in addition to my radio work.
A fund set-up to promote live music from the playing of recordings on the radio is where the money came from to pay for my performances in local community concert bands. It was called the “Musicians Performance Trust Fund.”
To be eligible to be paid under this fund, you had to join the local musicians union AFL-CIO. I was a union member at age 15.
As high wage manufacturing jobs were leaving, many turned to the profession of truck driver. Truck drivers are well paid and people thought, let’s see them automate that. Truck driving employees have been untouched by globalization and automation. You can’t send truck driving in Ohio to be done by person living in Mexico. But that other factor, automation, is now on the horizon.
Uber Driverless Truck Delivers 50,000 Beers
I’m sure you’ve heard about driverless cars and that many expect they will be a reality by 2020 (3 years from now). But while many in the radio industry worried about the loss of radio listening in the car if the car starts driving itself and now everyone can watch TV or surf the internet, I worried that more middle class jobs would soon be automated, never to return.
Wired magazine reported in late October of 2016 how OTTO (Uber bought this company for $680 million) was driving the beer truck down the highway in Colorado without a human behind the wheel.
So it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to realize that we soon will see driverless cabs, buses, trains, planes, boats and a whole lot of people formerly known as the middle class will be out-of-work.
This same thing is happening in higher education too via the internet.
The Fate of the DJ
So where did the radio jobs, like being a disc jockey (DJ) go? They were high-teched. Automated. The industry calls it “voice tracked.” The very technology that did away with the need to have live studio musicians playing music now no longer needs the person that played the recordings of those musicians.
To radio personalities this is not news. It’s been that way since the late 20th Century.
To the multi-tasking, hard-working, over-committed and under-paid middle class it might have seemed as nothing had changed. Heck, they might have even seen the change as an improvement. Certainly recorded music was better in some ways than live studio musicians as it provided more variety in musical entertainment.
It’s Technology, Stupid
The wonderful high-tech devices designed to make our lives so much easier are also taking away the well-paying jobs that created the middle class of the 20th Century.
What’s the world’s 21st Century plan to deal with this change?
Ad Supported Media
The current crisis in ad supported media is that in a world of infinite media choices, and unlimited advertising avails, the money that used to be enjoyed from the sale of advertising is now less than previously realized.
About two years ago I wrote in this blog an article about what I saw as the future of ad supported media. I wrote it after reading Thomas Piketty’s book “Capital in the 21st Century.” I went back and re-read that article and see the trend lines of the graph on page 357 still all moving in the same direction and that should give us all pause.
21st Century Media Business Model
All media is moving to a pay-for-play model. HBO, Showtime, Hulu, iTunes Radio, SiriusXM, CBS All Access, Amazon, Netflix, Pandora, Spotify etc. The ad supported model is coming to an end and the pay for what you want is replacing it.
The Wall Street Journal reported in the 4th quarter of 2016 that streaming revenues off-set declining sales of CDs and digital downloads.
People now rent what they want versus own.
And where does that leave your business?
15 responses to “Radio’s Jobs Didn’t Move to Mexico”
Reblogged this on artversnick and commented:
If were not constantly “disrupting” the present, we’d still be on horseback without indoor plumbing. Thinks about that…..
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Giddy up little horsey. Yes, Art you are so very right about that. -DT
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Adaptive Radiation & Survival of the Fittest. Digital technology is wonderful but the model is backwards. Broadcasting doesn’t monetize Digital; it’s Digital that monetizes Broadcasting! Broadcast operators, creatives, content providers & presenters still rule the roost. Too many just don’t see, hear, feel or do it. Imaginative Communication doesn’t mean “fake news.” Connect, tune in, turn on. Love being in Prof. Dick Taylor’s Class. Clark, Boston. http://www.broadcastideas.com
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Thank You Clark for those additional thoughts. -DT
Society is about to become this: Those at the top who provide services that everyone desires (not necessarily needs) cell phones, cable, fast food, etc. Those who work for government or education. Those who don’t work. Those who work, but just get by, and those that just make enough to purchase those products that the desire (not necessarily need) from those at the top. When we get to the point that we no longer produce anything, and the money runs out (and it will if don’t start producing products and technology continues being the great disruptor) society will break down and all hell will break loose. You can’t support a society if everyone wants to be a app developer or celebrity. Time will run out someday for radio, retail, and other businesses that struggle to hold on under this new technological frontier. When that time is, we can’t predict. In the case of horseback and the outhouse something replaced it. In the case of technology, there is not enough jobs to employ the next generation in our workforce…scary.
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Thank You Damon for contributing your thoughts to the blog. -DT
We’ll eventually go back to an agrarian society. I think the landfills have had an enough of our technology that removes humans out of the equation. Craftmanship may take time but it builds communities. The “Jetsons” lifestyle is sterile at best. You can’t remove people out of the equation. We aren’t advanced as we think we are.
Interesting that the comments of the earlybirds seem to be more positive than your tone, Dick. 😂 But my comment has more to do with your lumping technology into one demonizing basket. there are varying flavors and degrees of technology and particular to what my company is doing as a “sustaining Innovation”. jobs were being slaughtered
Thank You for picking the positive Robin.
As George Carlin said: “Everyone appreciates your honesty until your honest with them, then you’re an asshole.”
I’m just sharing what I’m observing.
Today it was announced that the 146 years entertainment institution known as “The Greatest Show on Earth” is ending its run in May 2017.
The world today no longer will support this form of entertainment.
You can like it, you can lump it, you can take it down the street and dump it, but that’s the way it is.
Thanks for your thoughts. -DT
The LinkedIn app crashed and I had to bail and switch to chrome. As I was saying radio jobs were being slaughtered not by technology but by greedy people. they used available technology to wipe out live and local and look what happened. So, in hindsight it may not have been necessarily a good move to do that.
Again WordPress cropped out. IM DONE.
What will take radio as we know it down are moves not totally signalled by the FCC, but underway anyhow. The FCC is in the process of removing 2/3rds of TV bandwidth. Norway is abolishing FM radio, but those stations may just tentatively be moving to data radio. Radio stations are small monopolies. If the Internet of Things makes wifi bandwidth available everywhere to service outside appliances including cars and trucks, then anyone will be able to stream a radio-like system all over the country. Internet everywhere will perhaps unhorse the cellular networks. Its not an issue yet, but Big Cellular wants to buy Cable companies. Cable Company bandwidth is not limited by spectrum scarcity. Traditional land line companies like Centurylink are just waiting for the right moment and right regulation, to drop the subsidies that support landlines and become more like cable. There is room for several kinds of cable companies, including municipally and state-owned, to provide services to driverless cars and trucks and other appliances. Cable WIFI is likely to become the new Goliath of bandwidth use. Ubiquitous internet can lead to VOIP phone technology through the air that is the equivalent of a cell phone. Police agencies are being forced to buy expensive higher powered transmitters and receivers to open bandwidth, tentatively, for what the FCC is calling ‘broadband expansion’, which means a big internet YES, but little growth room for Big Cellular unless it can get into Cable. Dish TV wants some of that terrestial action because they know current satellite won’t support decent voip, let alone running ground based wireless networks. Band width expansion on and in the ground means just adding more ropes of fiber optic. WIFI is bandwidth too, though a potentially far less piggish user than many conventional broadcast and cellular modes today. Bandwidth will transform from one kind of bandwidth to another, essentially. Every existing bandwidth user including cellular faces a complicated future.
Thank you Mike for all that you wrote and contributed to the discussion. -DT
The first radio station I visited as a kid in the mid-60s, KSD St. Louis, was a three-union shop. The announcers were AFTRA, the board op was IBEW and the turntable operator (!) was Musicians Union local 2, a holdover from the station orchestra days. I thought that was the coolest thing. I didn’t realize how quickly all that would change.
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Thank you Thom for stopping by the Blog and contributing to the discussion. -DT