Tag Archives: higher education
In a post I wrote about “Where You Should Be Recruiting Radio Talent” I mentioned a concept of “Just In Time Learning” that struck a chord with many readers. Commenter’s said they found the idea interesting and something they had never heard or thought of before. So I thought I’d expand on that thought with a little more detail and why it’s time has come.
Toyota’s Better Idea
Manufacturers used to stock everything they would need to build a product in warehouses. It was expensive and often wasteful. Then the idea of having parts shipped just-in-time to be assembled into a finished product was introduced.
Originally called “just-in-time production,” it builds on the approach created by the founder of Toyota, Sakichi Toyoda, his son Kiichiro Toyoda, and the engineer Taiichi Ohno. The principles underlying the TPS are embodied in The Toyota Way.
College Degree Credential Creep
Once upon a time, college was an optional final stage of learning in the United States. Today even a Starbucks barista probably has a college degree. So what’s causing this college degree credential creep? In many cases the reason is that employers feel that by requiring candidates to have a bachelor’s degree they will see a higher quality group of candidates. It has nothing to do with what job skills are actually required. It’s used mainly as a screening tool. Unfortunately, two-thirds of the workforce in America gets screened out when a B.A. degree requirement is inserted into the advertisement. Burning Glass researched how the demand for a bachelor’s degree is reshaping the workforce and you can read more about all of this here.
The 20th Century College Education
When the 20th Century began, America had about a thousand colleges and those colleges had less than 200,000 students enrolled in them. By mid-century the number of colleges exploded and colleges that once had about a thousand students expanded to universities with enrollments of tens of thousands of students.
Unfortunately our 20th Century higher education system simply wasn’t designed to deliver what’s needed in a 21st Century world.
Your Teacher, Your Doctor and Your Barber
In our high tech world, things can quickly scale. Productivity grows quickly. But a teacher still teaches at the same pace. Your doctor can only see patients at the same pace. And your barber can only cut hair at the same pace as each of these professions did in the 20th Century.
When something can’t scale, the price to provide the service goes up.
In the case of higher education, this price problem has been compounded by states reducing funding to their colleges and universities, resulting in public colleges being funded more and more by student tuition and lots of fees. This has resulted in a trillion dollar student loan crisis in America.
Certifications vs. Degrees
For the radio industry, the answer may be professional certifications versus bachelor’s degrees. Students simply can’t afford to go to college for four to six years and come out with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt to take an entry level radio job that will pay them fifteen to eighteen thousand dollars a year. Even worse, most likely the job you’re most looking to fill – sales – a college grad won’t have received any course work in learning about. Broadcasting in college is focused on teaching all of the low demand jobs in radio and the classes in the high demand jobs are either non-existent or being eliminated.
The Radio Advertising Bureau offers professional certifications in selling starting with their Radio Marketing Professional (RMP) certification. Burning Glass says that jobs in fields with strong certification and licensure standards have avoided the problem of “upcredentially.” They write: “This suggests that developing certifications that better reflect industry needs, together with industry acceptance of these alternative credentials, could reduce pressure on job seekers to pursue a bachelor’s degree and ensure that middle-skill Americans continue to have opportunities for rewarding careers, while continuing to provide employers with access to the talent they need.”
Radio’s Recruitment Mission
The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) need to spearhead the radio industry in creating bonafide certification programs for all job classifications that will be accepted by the radio industry as the equivalent (or better) than a bachelor’s degree. These programs need to be offered to high school aged students and recent high school graduates.
Certification programs can be designed to provide the kind of just-in-time learning needed for each radio position. When a person shows they’re ready to advance additional certification training can be taken to prepare them for the next higher position.
Done in this way, the training will be up-to-date, cutting edge instruction to insure the student is learning exactly the skills needed for the position they will be moving into.
Time for Radio to Think Different
The radio industry will need to attract new talent in order to stay viable and continue growing. Embracing a better form of training for the skills needed and making this a requirement versus a college bachelor’s degree is 21st Century thinking.
Many of these programs are already in place, but industry recognition and acceptance of them lags in comparison to requiring a college degree.
It’s time to think differently about how we find, train and grow the radio talent of tomorrow.
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I recently wrote an article for Radio World about the impact of colleges that sold their student radio station’s FCC license had on the pedagogical program at those institutions. You can read that article in Radio World here.
Today, I’d like to share with you something else I learned in talking with educators from around the country while researching this article. The FM license in every case connected the student station to the community. It was the heart and soul of the operation. When the license was sold and the station would become an online Internet only radio station it lost that connection.
Now the irony is that all of these student radio stations didn’t stop broadcasting over the FM band and then become Internet radio stations. No, they already had been streaming on the Internet and had listeners from all over the world in many cases. So why didn’t that continue to sustain these radio stations?
Let me make a comparison to help you understand this a little better. When you buy a magazine, do you read only one article and then toss it away or do you turn all the pages and look at other things in addition to that cover story that first attracted your attention and caused you to purchase the magazine? You read, if only skimming, the entire magazine. You spent time with that publication and became a little more invested in it. If you subscribe to the magazine this would be akin to being a P1 listener to a radio station.
When you see an article from a magazine online do you read the whole magazine or just the article that captured your attention and then leave? You do what we all do. It’s one and done. No investment in the magazine, just the article.
Well, what I learned is that it apparently isn’t all that much different when it comes to student streaming radio stations. It’s more of a hit and run.
There’s also a problem with student online radio stations in that they have limited connection capacity in most cases. That means only a limited number of people can listen to the stream, unless the college makes a big investment in expanding the capacity in the number of listeners can be connected at the same time. This is somewhat solved if a student station goes with a large online aggregator like TuneIn or Live365.
But let’s be real, when you enter a store and everything in the place is priced the same – FREE – which would you chose? The best you could find. Good Luck student stations.
Contrast that with student radio stations that broadcast over FM radio. What you find is that they are now only competing within the local community of service and in that playing field, have a chance to break through and be heard.
Over 92% of Americans 12-years of age and older still have the radio habit and listen every week. When it comes to listening to streaming stations on the Internet the percentage of penetration doesn’t come close. And those that do listen to streaming Internet music are very likely tuned to Pandora, if the current data available about such things is to be believed.
Another thing I heard was how more and more of these student radio stations were working to get a LPFM license so they could return to the air on the FM radios in their community.
When Zane Lowe was getting ready to launch Apple’s Beats1, he told the trades that a big part of the three months leading up to the launch was spent trying to come up with a better name for the new service than radio. They couldn’t do it.
Radio is the brand, because it works.
Even though it was 110-years ago that Albert Einstein would disrupt the world with how we saw the universe and how we saw time, space, mass, energy and light, we still invoke his name when a person does something brilliant. We say they’re an “Einstein.”
Unfortunately for Einstein, his groundbreaking 1905 theory that would be the foundation for a new way of thinking in physics – quantum mechanics (which gave us things like lasers, microprocessors and iPhones) – wasn’t embraced by this genius. It would be his undoing for the rest of his life.
In the world of higher education, the importance of publishing in an academic journal is more revered than publishing on LinkedIn (where other forwarding thinking professionals hangout) or on a personal blog that’s available to the world. What once was – really isn’t anymore, except to those who cannot accept that today we live in a world made up of platforms, not products.
Radio suffers from a similar dilemma. To traditional broadcasters, radio is something that needs an FCC license, radio tower, antenna and transmitter that sends a signal out over the AM or FM radio bands. I always smile when I look at my old Radio Telephone Third Class Operator Permit that I earned taking a test administered by the Federal Communications Commission at the Customs House in Boston back in 1968. Notice it had the world “telephone” in the name.
Kentucky melon farmer Nathan Stubblefield was an early experimenter in radio broadcasting. Only Nathan wanted his wife to be able to talk to him while he was driving his car from their farmhouse. For you see, in those early days no one was quite sure what this new technology would or could be used for.
“The next big thing always starts out looking like a toy,” says Chris Dixon.
So when people started streaming over the Internet and calling it “radio,” traditional broadcasters looked down their noses at it in much the same way that journalists looked down their noses at the new media platforms like Buzzfeed and Vice Media invading their world.
Einstein teaches us something more than E=mc2, it’s that we need to learn to accept the new platforms that disrupt the world as we knew it and are creating the world that will be. Radio, higher education – most likely your business too – cannot afford to be Einstein-like in our future thinking. The world is moving faster and faster. 50% of today’s jobs won’t exist in ten years.
The iPhone, the Connected Car, Buzzfeed, Bitcoin etc are all platforms. Radio, colleges, newspapers etc. are all products. Understanding this dichotomy is critical.
In Abraham Pais’s book “J. Robert Oppenheimer: A Life” he writes that Einstein’s inability to adapt to new platforms failed him and that he became a “landmark, but not a beacon.”
And so the choice in our world today is to adapt or die.
Welcome to the age of disruption created by the Internet.
What’s not for you? Maybe this blog for one. I’m not writing this blog for everyone. I’m writing for people passionate about radio and education.
From years of being on the street selling radio advertising, nothing would frustrate me more than a business owner that said his business offered “something for everyone.” Even Walmart doesn’t make that claim and they come pretty darn close to being able to deliver on that positioning statement.
Today there are more radio stations on-the-air in America than at any time in broadcast history. Tragically, most commercial radio stations are trying to offer “something for everyone.” It’s been proven that when you try to please everyone, you will end up pleasing no one.
I work at a big university. Yeah, we offer “something for everyone.” All universities do. However, in the state of Kentucky, the legislature said that some schools needed to be recognized at being best in some area and those schools would see those programs named a “Program of Distinction.” At Western Kentucky University the School of Journalism and Broadcasting is just such a Kentucky Program of Distinction. WKU is the only college or university in Kentucky so designated in the area of journalism and broadcasting. It also earns additional funding from the legislature.
College Magazine named WKU’s School of Journalism and Broadcasting #4 in America.
I think in time, institutions of higher education will eliminate those things it does, but isn’t the best at. The days of everyone offering “something for everyone” are over; if they ever really existed.
Radio also needs to re-think its role in today’s Internet connected world.
Radio was at its best when it was serving the public interest, convenience and necessity. Radio was at its best when it was LIVE and LOCAL twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Radio offered something that everyone needs; companionship. Ironically, in a world where every radio station can have its broadcast studio up on a LIVE webcam where listeners can watch the air personalities, most studios are unoccupied. Radio today is show business without the show.
Looking at this another way, Comedy Central to me was a one hour network. Jon Stewart’s Daily Show and Stephen Colbert’s Colbert Report were the only two programs I’ve ever watched on the channel. Watched religiously. Did I care if they were in HD? Did I care if they were in color or black & white? Did I care if the picture was a little snowy? Not really. It was all about the content. Content, that was not for everyone.
FOX News Channel and MSNBC understand this very well. (However, does anyone really watch “Lock Down”?)
Radio and higher education are both facing similar battles and they are both still operating in the “something for everyone” mode.
If you were to ask most people what they thought of radio, they’d probably tell you “it’s OK.” And therein lies the problem. No one is passionately pro or con. But they sure were in the days of Howard Stern or Howard Cosell.
Remember this dialog from Howard Stern’s movie Private Parts?
Researcher: The average radio listener listens for eighteen minutes. The average Howard Stern fan listens for – are you ready for this? – an hour and twenty minutes.
Pig Vomit: How can that be?
Researcher: Answer most commonly given? “I want to see what he’ll say next.”
Pig Vomit: Okay, fine. But what about the people who hate Stern?
Researcher: Good point. The average Stern hater listens for two and a half hours a day.
Pig Vomit: But… if they hate him, why do they listen?
Researcher: Most common answer? “I want to see what he’ll say next.”
Love Howard or hate Howard, he made people passionate about radio.
As Seth Godin puts it: “You won’t be doing great work until you can say to people ‘It’s not for you.’ “