Radio’s Bench

Where will the next great radio stars come from?

There used to be more radio jobs than there are now. It used to be that radio hosts, DJ’s and even reporters started in small markets and worked their way up to big ones.


I recently saw Bob & Tom speaking at a conference and telling the story how one of them (Bob?) met the other at a bar, and asked to go to the radio station just to look at the trades for jobs. (Remember when you had to get your hands on an actual copy of Radio & Records for that?)

As the story goes, when he went to the station he ended up talking with people there, and got a job as the P.D. and mid-day guy and ended up as the other guy’s boss. (Tom?)

One thing led to another and they ended up paired together and the rest is history. I think they even claimed their small market competition sent tapes to larger markets to try and get them out of town.

The syndicated Bob & Tom were telling the story of how they got to where they are, and I was listening thinking to myself “there are no bread crumbs, nobody can follow that same path.”

Bob & Tom might even be on the station where they started with a minimum wage board op pushing the buttons. Or just a computer getting tones and playing commercials.

(I’m sure Bob & Tom are great guys, and they are not to blame)


If you own a station in a medium to small market and you want to make money what do you do? Do you use barter to pay for syndicated programs, or use cash to pay for talent?

From a bean counting perspective, it seems like an easy call. Spend a few bucks on an automation system that doesn’t need vacation days or health care or training and isn’t capable of leaving for a job in a bigger market. I can’t really blame a station owner for doing it that way.

Imagine a small or medium market station actually invested in local talent. Coached them, groomed them, and developed that talent to form a cohesive local station that rated well and had good sales revenue. How long would it take for a larger market to come in and poach the staff?

The Answers:

Maybe radio’s farm system is podcasting. But other than maybe two dozen podcasts, the talent pool really isn’t all that deep. A lot of podcasts are pretty bad and not very creative.

The answer is hard work from someone dedicated to radio and a local community more than they are dedicated to shareholders and profits. Someone willing to invest in a team and build something that attracts and retains talent.

Is that out there? Is there anyone willing to invest in people instead of automation? Seems kinda pie-in-the-sky thinking doesn’t it?

Maybe George Bailey will buy a radio station to go with his Savings & Loan.

Who’s doing it right? Is there anyone out there? Let me know.

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