Tom Kent Speaks Out On 'The Spirit Of Independence'
July 3, 2013 at 12:18 PM (PT)
TOM KENT RADIO NETWORK CEO/Pres. TOM KENT thought the coming JULY 4th holiday would be an opportune time to take a good, hard luck and the state of radio. Here are his thoughts:
On this INDEPENDENCE DAY, we celebrate our freedom in this great country and our never ending pursuit of happiness. Those dreams for most of us reading this involve radio and a vision that first ignited our passion for this industry. The dream is kept alive by that independent spirit that’s part of our DNA, whether it’s the MAYS family at CLEAR CHANNEL or the DICKEY family at CUMULUS. Independence can still be found even in those corporate behemoths. It’s that spirit that drives all of us whether it’s an independent entrepreneur such as myself or some of the great independent operators like CURTIS MEDIA in NORTH CAROLINA or in the syndication world with UNITED STATIONS.
there only needs to be one significant paradigm shift in order for radio to thrive again
The idea is the same. We’re enabled by our Creator to pursue that which we desire in order to form a more perfect union. In the case of radio, it’s the union of ideas and creative empowerment that allows us to follow those dreams. Radio continues to get a bad rap and some of it deservedly so. So many folks want to focus on the negative in our industry and totally ignore that which is not only keeping our industry alive, but also driving us all to roll with the changes.
The one thing I’ve observed over the years about radio goes back long before deregulation. That one constant is change. Either we embrace it or we are bound to be run over and flattened by it. No matter what our attitude may be, it won’t change the fact that this business is constantly and continuously changing. It always has and always will. To that point, I was cleaning out my closet the other day and found an old issue of R&R from the year 2006. It was astounding to me to see, up close and personal, all the changes just in that seven-year period. No matter, it could have been a seven-year period from any decade and the changes would amaze.
Change brings forth great opportunity. Independent, creative resources available to radio are at an all-time low. Quality syndication, consultants, prep services, music, engineers, personalities and all the rest who’ve been either displaced or driven out of the business have left our industry with a huge vacuum. Town to town, up and down the dial, we keep looking for that shining radio station on a hill and many times, it's really hard to find.
Good news ... secret revealed! This really is good news because there only needs to be one significant paradigm shift in order for radio to thrive again. Really, just one? That’s right! It’s hard to believe that something so simple like the nose on your face could be so true! I’m here to tell you that the pendulum must swing back to the product! One of the things that I learned early in life is that when we put money first, then money will elude us. To simplify it all, this is why many of the behemoths are steeped in massive debt and the true independents still prosper. Most of the independents still put the product first, have little to no debt and their balance sheet actually balances! When we worship at the altar of money, we’re building our houses on sand.
One of my favorite quotes is from the Gospel according to FRANK SINATRA: "When I stop caring about my audience, they’ll stop caring about me." Come on, radio! Other than us, do people really care about radio? How about our youth? Let’s get back to that true independent spirit that first drove us all to be in this business to begin with. Remember how good it felt to nail a post on the air as a jock? Remember that first station you programmed, when your vision came alive and you saw the results three months later in ARBITRON? Remember how good it felt to take those numbers to your sales team and see the money follow? Want to see profits like you’ve never seen before? Try focusing completely and totally on the product and you’ll be printing money!