Life in Radio

3 Jan

Old radio

Once upon a time, I worked in radio. It was the best job of my life. The people were great, the job was exciting and even though it was considered only a part-time position, the perks weren’t half bad either. Summer festival after summer festival, concert after concert. And I met Jason Aldean – TWICE. For a music lover, it’s a dream. Then realization set in: local radio is an endangered breed and the outlook on life in radio was bleak, particularly for a paid promotions staffer. The brightest shining light? I met my husband while I was working there. I saw him from across the studio – completely ignored his presence (at least according to him), he stole my pens and the rest is history.

While I sit back and painstakingly watch radio slowly take hit after hit because of poorly managed finances, shrinking advertising revenue (or hard to find sales talent) and “lack of interest” – I can’t help but want to scream from the mountaintops that LOCAL radio is a necessity and it aches me to see it disappearing. Who wants to listen to syndicated radio show after syndicated radio show? The corporations of the world are taking away what radio was created for – local personalities introducing the latest and greatest music, connecting with the people of their community.

There certainly is not a lack of talent; I met some incredibly talented people – both on and off air staff – while I worked in radio, many of which were talented beyond their radio gig. From standup comedic to country band superstar to hockey writer, their talent doesn’t end when the microphone is turned off. And while there is a perception to many that radio is as easy as pushing a ‘play’ button, it is actually quite the opposite. Time and energy goes in to prepping for each show, segmenting your talk breaks, year in-advance promotions planning – and believe it or not, there is rhyme and reason to which songs are played when. Radio is more than just playing popular songs for you to hear; it introduces up and coming artists, new music, old/”classic” music and there are community events which might not get exposure if it weren’t for radio, concerts, events, sales appearances, radiothons and so many more activities that goes on behind the scenes.

Since my husband is one of these hard working fools who is dedicated until some other force chooses otherwise, I still get to reap one of the benefits: live music galore. I’ve been able to accompany him on more concerts than I could have ever dreamed of (and I couldn’t be more thankful to spend a few extra minutes with him as he hurriedly runs around at events). But I feel as though the ‘benefits’ of radio are slipping away as budgets are cut or jeopardized, the staff becomes smaller and the expectations rise to ridiculous levels – they have no time to be able to enjoy the perks of the job because they’re so busy picking up slack from others who have been fired or let go. Yet, they continue to invest more time and energy than ever before because they love what they do THAT much – and their dedication is admirable.

I admire people who do what they love no matter the toll it takes on them, their family, their friends or their finances – especially those in radio. The demands of working in radio are excruciating – between the odd, long hours to the time required working on/around the holidays to the number of jobs you’re expected to do because they keep letting staff go but the work is expected to get done. I thank you, radio employees, for the hard work, dedication and sacrifices you make to do what you love, keeping radio how it should be: local and connecting.

I know iPods, mp3 players, XM satellite radio and the Pandora’s of the world are the next big thing, but I ask you: while you still can, call your local radio station to tell them thank you. Thank them for their hard work and keep your fingers crossed you are still able to call them up on the radio in a few years.

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