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The Midweek Motivator – Dismissals, Denials

The two days we can’t do much about are yesterday and tomorrow. The most recent data tells us Radio listening continues to attract tonnage! “Radio is one of the most powerful mediums in the United States with a weekly reach of 85%” (documented this past August by the highly respected Pew Research).

Assuming we accept the headlines from prominent publications such as All Access and Radio Ink (there’s little reason not to) for the moment, and driven by multiple forces, some of the industry’s finest people are simply “out.” This past week one of the most respected national groups announced scale-back terminations that included a number of highly visible and respected Pro’s.

In the American business culture regardless of its size or standing, a corporation can do anything it likes; including thinning ranks to meet financial metrics. That’s America. That’s business.

But who makes these decisions and how exactly do they screen their cut-list? The most obvious “short list” almost always involves talent; a morning cast member, a Program Director, or the “easy button,” a local seven-to-midnight show where management can always fall-back on syndication dejour: simply cut a local show, call a syndicator, and voila…operating profit up next quarter. That might be simple enough, if only there was an endless fountain of emerging syndicated star power. It doesn’t exist.

While select syndicators do offer track-proven quality syndication, there’s a limit to plug and play shows and personalities. These are the times where there is much in the Radio shop window, little in the stockroom; a time when technology can deliver weekly missives like this column, a time where you can consider observations like these, or simply move past them. We can convince ourselves that technology opens the door to less operating expense, fewer people, greater net income; and true in some instances (but only for a while).

A couple of years ago Dave Hoeffel and I were exchanging thoughts; specifically about the current state of CHR. We shared concern for artist appeal, familiarity and longevity. We agreed the format was struggling with “sonic sameness” and in some markets where traditional Hit Radio powerhouses had held serve, they were now struggling to maintain a top-five ranking. We also talked about the disparity between various Charts and the tendency to get off a song far too soon.

Like every other corporate arena Radio has experienced changing tides; formats, personalities, syndication, and profit pressure. We can hold unending symposiums, argue format performance and debate the merit of syndication. The one thing we can’t do is to discount the impact of key people; topping the list, Programmers and Sales leaders.

George Johns said it perfectly: “To get something you’ve never had before, you’ll need to do something you’ve never done before. Motivation is like Chinese Food; in an hour you’ll need more. Inspiration lasts a lot longer.”  Be inspired!