Wasting Your Time
August 25, 2015
Are our margins really so thin that we can't afford to pay a live, local talent in midday or afternoon?
What is that, $60,000?
We must be making so little money, we must be so very close to the edge of bankruptcy that it's just not possible.
Otherwise, how to explain the fact that almost every company -- even the family-owned ones, with no debt -- in almost every city, requires their Program Director to do a four-hour air shift five days a week?
There's research out the wazoo proving that creativity requires one thing above all: time.
Time to daydream. Time to think. Yes, time to nap, because even when we're sleeping, our brains aren't.
Steve Jobs, perhaps the most creative thinker of our time, was famous for his long walks. They could happen any time, and it was not uncommon for him to leave a meeting, even miss one completely, because when he wanted to think through a problem, to tap his right brain, he'd leave the office and hit the trails around Palo Alto.
Listen to his voice and substitute your company -- our industry -- for the ones he mentions...
"I have my own theory about why decline happens at companies like IBM or Microsoft. The company does a great job, innovates and becomes a monopoly, or close to it in some field, and then the quality of the product becomes less important. The company starts valuing the great salesmen, because they're the ones who can move the needle on revenues, not the product engineers and designers. So the salespeople end up running the company."
"John Akers at IBM was a smart, eloquent, fantastic salesperson, but he didn't know anything about product. The same thing happened at Xerox."
"When the sales guys run the company, the product guys don't matter so much, and a lot of them just turn off. It happened at Apple when Sculley came in, which was my fault, and it happened when Ballmer took over at Microsoft. Apple was lucky and it rebounded, but I don't think anything will change at Microsoft while Ballmer is running it."
Look, I've written many times about the moral issue of reaping multi-million dollar rewards by firing hundreds or thousands of people.
The CEOs of the Wall Street investment banks who brought the world to the precipice of total economic collapse were paid enormous bonuses and felt no moral qualms at all about taking them, even as they watched millions in our county, and around the world, lose everything they owned from the actions initiated at their behest.
Not a peep from a conscience even when we, the taxpayer, had to pay them again to bail out the world's financial system that they ruined.
The guys running the major consolidated radio companies have laid off thousands, cutting costs and in the process earning huge bonuses. The most recent (though I haven't read the trades this morning), CBS just last week.
But is our society better off because of credit default swaps? Even on Wall Street, most would say, "No."
Is our industry better off for the cuts made to enrich a few? Is the product of radio noticeably better -- to the listener -- now than it was in 1985?
Has the $60,000 not spent (but also not saved, because it goes directly into the million-dollar bonus package of the top guys in each company) at every station, in every city, by making PDs do an air shift, improved radio's creativity, its human connection, its local responsiveness, its entertainment value?
Has it made local radio, and the lives of the dedicated, creative, product-driven professionals who man the front lines every day, better?
I know the correct moral answer. I also know the correct product answer.
So do you.
And so do they.