Getting the Radio Gig

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rogerwimmer
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Getting the Radio Gig

Post by rogerwimmer » Tue Jul 27, 2010 11:26 am

Alright, it doesn't take a nuclear biochemist to realize that radio has changed over the years. Here's my question: How do I know I'm good enough for the job? I started in radio at 15, have made my #1 ratings in my demographic and second in the market (on an AC station with a huge and nearly exclusive CHR community) in my time-slot. I have performed my military obligation in the U.S. Navy Submarine Fleet. I have owned a voiceover and production business since 2006. But all this talk about PDs taking 6-12 months to hire "the perfect guy" is quite scary, not gonna lie. Radio hiring was competitive back then (2004-2006), but I can just imagine now. So, who is the right person? What does the right person sound like today? How do I know what to send these people so they can consider me for an on-air gig? These questions sound elementary, especially for someone who has surrounded himself in radio since earlier than 15, but they're real questions that I think many talent out there are also asking themselves! Do I need to have Ryan Seacrest's numbers to get on the air? Do I need to sound like Casey Kasem? Do I need to push FCC regs like Howard Stern?

Jeez, I'm just me . . . the friendly guy that will play a request from time to time and was known to spike a log here and there at 5 to avoid my listeners slitting their wrists on the drive home, and pushing high numbers because of it. I'm just a guy that incorporates the normal, average radio listener into a music transition. I'm the kind of guy that likes to take the station van out and give away passes to concerts, bumper stickers, or chill with the Friday night cruise-gangs to win the popularity vote simply because it's how to market a radio station. Was I in a completely different world of radio then? Do I now need to derive my on-air presence from an audio prompter telling me the "politically correct" way to say everything we need to say as on-air personalities? Someone give me a clue! - Anonymous


Anon: OK, I get the feeling you are frustrated. I understand that very clearly. The problem is that I don't think I have an exact answer for you. I do have a few comments and that's what I'll provide right now.

Unfortunately for virtually everyone in America, we are living in an unprecedented rotten economic environment. Radio isn't the only industry that has changed in the past few years. From everything I had read, seen, and heard, the rotten economy has affected just about every business and industry. People can't find jobs, businesses of all sizes have closed or are in the process of closing, and there doesn't seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel.

Now, I don't think that information is a surprise for you, but it does provide a stepping stone for me to connect to this point . . .

One of my dad's favorite quips to anyone who complained about something related to the past, or someone who said, "I should/would/could have..." was: The past ain't. I know that's not a grammatically correct statement, but the meaning is very clear: There is nothing you (or anyone) can do about the past. The important thing is what to do about the present and future.

And that is what I'll tell you: The past ain't. Don't misunderstand me. I'm not being sarcastic here. You obviously have skills and you obviously have the desire to use those skills. I think that redirecting your thinking may be the approach. Yes, things are different in radio. There is no question about that. But I don't think there has ever been one set of rules or requirements about the skills necessary for any job in radio. The qualifications necessary for a jock (or any other radio job) are as varied as there are markets, radio stations, and PDs. The goal is to find a set of rules or guidelines that match your skills and interests. If you're looking for a jock gig, ask the PD what he/she wants a jock to do. Follow the 3-step philosophy of operating a successful radio station: (1) Find out what the listeners want; (2) Give it to them; (3) Tell them that you gave it to them.

So . . . find out what the PD, GM (or whomever) wants. Can you give it to the person? If yes, say so. If what the person wants something you don't want to give, then move on to another radio station.

In my opinion, frustration (like fear) is generated by a lack of information. Your comments ring of frustration and I think that is based on a lack of understanding of the "new" radio. The first step is to forget about what radio was like years ago. The second step is to find out what the employers want for "today's" radio. If you find that you can survive in "today's" radio, then go full ahead. If not, then you may need to purse other things.

My problem with answering your question is the economic cloud hovering over all of us. Most of us need to make a few adjustments in our thinking and/or behavior to get through this mess.

I hope that helps a little. If not, let me know.


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Roger Wimmer is owner of Wimmer Research and senior author of Mass Media Research: An Introduction, 10th Edition.

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Re: Getting the Radio Gig

Post by rogerwimmer » Mon Aug 02, 2010 3:00 am

Frustrated? Yes, I am. Not as much as I am disappointed though. I understand radio is going through its difficult phase along with other industries. Honestly, my post is about all the guys I see here posting job inquiries because they can't seem to land a lucky spot by sending in the resume and air-check.

I'm disappointed about PDs searching for an on-air talent for greater than 8 months; employers who advertise job openings and don't say what they're looking for or, when called by a talent to inquire, they blow them off by not giving specifics. I've read all these types of posts and I have communicated my thoughts with individuals who are in positions that I have mentioned. My thoughts are with the guys that are actively searching, reaping the effects of an employer with little or no intention or hiring them for any number of reasons.

Now, I know that what I'm speaking about isn't the entire industry, and there are radio stations that will hire or give specifics for a better understanding of what they're looking for. I also understand the time spent is exactly that - time spent. (Wise words by the way "The past ain't.") I'm not posting this to give the impression that I am, in all aspects of the phrase, "God's gift to radio, why am i not being hired," but just as you mentioned. I want the general specifics of today's radio. What is today's radio looking for? If I have to call every PD and ask them, then, to me, that insinuates an unorganized industry and no general industry standard. - Anonymous


Anon: Your comments indicate that you're asking for a general set of rules, guidelines, or other list of items that define what "radio" is looking for in reference to talent. I think the broad generalization, "radio," is the problem because "radio" in the United States consists of thousands of individual radio stations and thousands of unique employees who are in charge of hiring personnel to operate the radio stations.

Sure, there may be some consistencies among some radio stations, particularly those that are in a similar format, but even among those radio stations, each station is a unique entity. Each radio station has its own corporate structure, operating philosophy, and characteristics defined by the unique employees who operate the radio station.

With that in mind, then, I don't think anyone (including me) can provide you with a list of what today's "radio" is looking for in reference to hiring talent. And I don't think that the individualism among all the radio stations, the differences in what employers are looking for, indicates or insinuates that the industry is unorganized and has no general industry standard.

The radio industry consists of thousands of individual radio stations and I can't think of any time during my 30+ years in radio research where one set of rules or guidelines for any aspect of radio would be appropriate.
Roger Wimmer is owner of Wimmer Research and senior author of Mass Media Research: An Introduction, 10th Edition.

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