February 2, 2016
Call me naive, but I always thought radio's purpose was entertaining and informing listeners while serving as a local community resource -- especially in times of urgent need.
The money from advertising, sold to pay for the talent and resources necessary to meet this purpose, was important but secondary, a result of great execution of the purpose, but not the purpose itself.
About the time of Clear Channel's dominance in ownership, the purpose of their radio stations changed completely, and they weren't shy about revealing this change. Their new purpose was to sell as much advertising as they could.
The purpose of iHeartMedia's stations is to produce enough revenue today to pay the interest owed on billions of dollars of debt this month and to continue to be thought of as too big to fail so the whole loan isn't called in at once.
So, Bain Capital, the private equity firm that "owns" all these iHeartMedia radio stations (with other people's borrowed money), sees the entertaining and informing functions as expenses.
The purpose is debt payment ... not community service, not entertainment.
When expenses negatively impact profit -- their purpose behind owning all these stations -- they must be eliminated.
It's the same for Cumulus, and it may be for Entercom, and CBS, and every other public radio company now.
When radio's purpose was serving the local community through information, entertainment, and involvement - real involvement in the issues and needs of the real people who listened - all of those working on the programming side felt part of that purpose.
That purpose was the reason most of us got into radio to begin with, at least into the content side.
Living to purpose enriches one's life.
It engages us with those that lead us and imbues in us a sense of responsibility to those we serve, the listeners.
Purpose leads to higher productivity, less turnover, and a sense of evangelism for one's company that serves to attract the very best employees.
Consider Apple, or Google, or the Ritz-Carlton Hotels.
If you are not one of the big, consolidated radio companies, how do you think your employees would answer the question: What is our purpose?
For that matter, how about you: What is your purpose?
The sooner you focus your purpose on service...
The sooner revenue becomes a by-product of producing a remarkable product...
The sooner your talent and energy and constant focus -- your life -- is about more than money above all else...
The longer your legacy will live.
That's the power of purpose.