DESIRE Gets You HIRED, But Unless INSPIRED, You'll Be FIRED!
May 6, 2014
A young man showed up on the doorstep of the CBS Radio offices in New York City, and he came with a reference from someone I knew well and trusted, so I interviewed him.
"So you moved to New York from (insert smaller market here) without a job? Why did you do that?" I asked.
"To work here," he answered.
I recognized that answer, as I had given it once myself in 1987, when Dave Richards was the PD of a Rock station in Westerly, RI, right in the middle of the New London, CT and Providence, RI markets. Dave had no idea I was coming, and it took me two days to drive from Rockford, IL to Providence, but on the third day, I dropped my demo at his door. I was hired two days later.
Streetcar Named Desire
I wasn't the best jock in the world, but Dave saw desire and hired it, nurtured it, and aided in its growth. So, when I had the opportunity to do the same, I also kept desire from having to file for unemployment.
We're in a business where getting your foot in the door is key; as long as once you wedge it in there, you make that moment count.
For his moment, our young man started like a rocket, willing, anxious, ready and able to tackle any task, shift, position or opportunity offered; and his talents were growing quickly, on-air, in production and in programming. However, as time went on, you could visibly see that he wasn't attacking the tasks with the same fervor as in the beginning, and quickly you could detect the erosion of the quality in the work performance as well. With a conversation to remind him of the decrease in output, he'd immediately get back on the horse and put in a good performance once again. But soon after, he'd be right back to needing to be prodded in order to elevate performance.
Don't Poke Inspiration
Inspiration cannot be faked, and if it constantly needs to be poked in order to show up, it doesn't exist at all.
"Do you work harder in this job than you did when you were in (insert smaller market here)?" I asked.
"Yes, of course," he answered, probably thinking this was an obvious question.
"Why would you work harder here than you did there?" I asked.
"This is market #1, so it goes without saying that we have to work harder here," he answered.
And with that answer, the issue was identified. While working in the smaller market, our young man was giving the performance he thought was acceptable for the market standard, doing enough to get by versus giving it his all. He was waiting for a great opportunity to come his way and when it did, that's when he was going to give it everything he had. However, because he hadn't gotten into a habit of working at full power and with all his might in the smaller market, he didn't know how to keep his foot on the gas when the bigger opportunity presented itself.
Market size is a myth. The only real difference between the smallest markets and the largest markets is the number of people living near the transmitter. The amount of preparation it takes to craft an effective break, ONE that will greatly impact the person listening, is exactly the same in New London as it is in New York.
'I Think I Can, I Think I Can' Was Not A Lie
There is a phrase that says, "The Cream Rises to the Top," and it's hard to believe that sometimes, especially when you've spent numerous years in smaller markets without much notice, and more so now, with the way our industry has turned many shifts from live people to pre-loaded shows. But trust me that if you keep sending your demo out, it will eventually be noticed, and in the right time, it will be proven that you have been the cream the whole time.
The benefit of time spent in smaller markets without being noticed is that with each day, that's MORE TIME to master the ability to craft effective breaks, creating a habit ... a good habit that will stay with you when you get that call to move on up.
As for our young man, the great news is that NOW he has major-market experience and sometimes it takes doors slamming tight for someone to realize how hard they have to fight in order to compete at any level, and if they want it bad enough, they can still go back and begin creating healthy habits for another shot, which will come in the right time.