It’s almost hard to believe, in an economy where employers are finding it difficult to hire and retain employees, that the radio industry continues to eliminate people.
iHeart Initiates Round of Cuts
Lance Venta of RadioInsight broke the news on Wednesday, June 8th about iHeart doing a new countrywide Reduction In Force (RIFs). On Friday evening, as I scrolled down my screen, Lance updated his initial report with locations of where some of the known cuts had taken place. Boston, Chicago, Des Moines, Jacksonville, New Hampshire and Tampa.
Reading the names of the people cut, I couldn’t help but notice they have been in their positions for decades, with titles like Senior Vice President of Programming and member of the National Programming Team. We’re talking some very senior level people with tenured radio careers.
Main Studio Rule Eliminated
It was back in October of 2017 that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to eliminate the Main Studio Rule, a provision that had been in place since 1934, and allowed radio owners to no longer maintain a main studio within its principal community contour. In other words, there’s no one home at your local radio station.
Lance speculated that in the future, we would see much leaner broadcast facilities. Welcome to that future.
Public Interest, Convenience and Necessity
The case broadcasters make for Over-The-Air AM/FM radio is that in times of emergencies, staying on the air is what makes radio an essential resource. They like to point out that other forms of communication, like satellite dishes, cell towers and microwave relays do not.
Ironically, without having a main studio in the affected area, broadcasters use satellite dishes, cellular communications and microwaves to feed local transmitters, often from hundreds of miles away from where a natural disaster is occurring.
Broadcasters have abandoned local staff being on the ground in their FCC licensed service area and with it, the vital connections with local emergency management officials.
Efficiently Eliminating Radio’s Advantage
Radio is a people business.
When I started in radio back in 1968, every radio station was a beehive of professionals dedicated to being the best they could be.
As an example, CKLW, a stand-alone AM radio station in the Detroit metro, had twenty-three people just in their news department.
Was radio efficient back then? No.
Was radio effective? YES!
Did radio make money? Tons of it!
Radio’s advantage has always been the people who make the magic happen.
Sadly, radio today operates in an “efficiency bubble,” where efficiency is valued over effectiveness.
Efficient radio chases away listeners.
Effective radio creates them.
The pursuit of efficiency is a rational answer to an emotional problem.
The radio business was never built on Excel spreadsheets and doing what was most efficient, it was built by creative people who touched others emotionally. Be it station imaging, air personalities, promotions, contests, community events, advertising or marketing, radio always went for people’s hearts.
Radio is successful when it delivers a sense of community and companionship to the listener.
Show me a successful radio station in 2022 and I will show you one that continues to foster emotions in their listeners and advertisers.