Combining The Past & Present For The Future
August 19, 2014
When I was growing up, my mother had a way of getting me to try new things to eat. She would always point out there were several ways to prepare a particular food. For example, I was not too fond of cole slaw, but as part of our agreement, I tried three different versions to see if I liked any of them. Sure enough, I enjoyed the creamy version. My mom would use the same approach to trying new things in general. Her thing was to be open to change, adapt and grow. I guess that's where I got my ideas for radio and the ways to move forward. So I applied my mother's methods with the personality I had this exchange with.
Jock: My problem is that I am at a crossroads in my career. I have programmed several stations and currently I am working afternoons in a top-25 market. I was downsized from my last programming job and believe it or not, I don't miss it. I have been doing radio for 16 years and it has changed so much. Programming was way too consuming and the meetings just seem to come in waves. Honestly in my last job I did everything, an air shift, hosted a weekend community show, assisted traffic, and once I even filled in for the promotions director while she was on leave for three months. Did I mention I didn't have a music director and did that too? I love just being a jock again, but I keep reading and seeing all the changes going on. Disney sold all their stations, the car companies are starting to put the Internet in cars, and there is so much stuff I can't keep up. This station I am working at is a lot like the place I last programmed. I want more than what I have been doing and I was telling my wife what I am feeling. I still have the passion but I'm not sure what I'm doing is relevant in the whole scheme of things when it comes to radio. I guess I wanted to know your thoughts on maybe what I should or could be doing.
Coach: What do you like about being on the air?
Jock: I like everything about it -- the music, turning on the mic and reaching out to the listeners with my voice, going out on remotes, preparing to do my show, and just everything about it.
Coach: I have always loved a brain that thinks on a layer of levels. The game of radio is a matter of connecting the dots between life and radio. Learning how to transition between the two and communicate on and off the air in an entertaining and efficient manner. Conveying a thought or an attitude in the fewest words is a lot of work, but fun.
Jock: Your thoughts make me think. What direction should I heading?
Coach: The modern day entertainment centers are cellphones and tablets; both are becoming the most important communication devices in the world. Mobile applications will eventually replace much of the hardware once synonymous with our daily lives --TVs, alarm clocks, cameras, stereos, landline phones, watches and calculators.
I firmly believe the skills necessary for radio will morph in directions that none of us are even aware of yet. Terrestrial or traditional radio will still have a place once it's out of the finance world and returns to the business of radio. The dominance our industry once enjoyed is over but with vision and a redefinition of success, there will be a lot of money to be made. Experienced personalities such as yourself might get a chance to help rebuild and make radio viable again. People love to copy success and it will only take one Steve Jobs or Bill Gates-type to rewire and transition radio into the future. A combination of old and new media will lay the foundation. It is going to take a fusion of different generations to forge a direction.
Jock: You actually listened to me. I know that sounds obvious, but sometimes that does not always happen as often as one would like. Thank you for getting me. You are saying the things that have been part of my thinking for a while. I try and stay close to my kids' friends and the other day I found it fascinating to hear my son's buddies have a conversation with my grandfather about cars. It was amazing to hear their conversation about engines. So what you are talking about is harnessing the knowledge of the past and present. Can you give me an example?
Coach: Okay, I had a great talk with a young lady who uses Instagram, Twitter and Facebook during her show to pre-promote to her listeners and give them a glimpse of what is going on during the show. She does this throughout her show. Numerous stations usually run back "best of" portions or post pictures on their Internet site, but this personality does things in the moment. She told me she got the idea from her dad's love for the late play-by-play man Bill King, who was a legend in the San Francisco Bay area. Her father loved listening and watching him simulcasting Golden State Warriors basketball team on TV and radio. She just updated the idea to radio, smartphones, and social media.
Jock: So you are talking about overhauling and rearranging. Doing things differently and updating.
Coach: Yes and in order to get things straight and work across generational lines you need to understand the mindset. Here is a breakdown of the generations:
- Silent Generation, born between 1925-1942
- Baby Boomer, born 1943-1960
- Generation X, born 1961-1981
- Generation Y, Born 1982-2001
- Generation Z , Born 2002-2021
Boomers, Xs and Ys have all had different growing experiences with innovation and technology. The Y generation has grown up with the current state of communication nuances and views radio as just a part of the scene. The personality I spoke of who uses social media in the moment is of that generation. By the time she and I got off the phone, my mind was spinning with ideas on updating some things from years past.
Jock: Hey, I would love to talk to her too
Coach: There are others just like her, but in the meantime I will give your number to her, if that is okay?
Jock: By all means!
Conclusion: I don't have to draw you a map. Things are changing in our industry and you need to adapt and stay ahead of the game. Stay open to the possibilities of how you can improve yourself and our business.