How many times have you thought back to a time when great radio personalities ruled the airwaves from city to city? I speak of the personalities of legend, true radio professionals who had one goal in mind, to leave a lasting impression with their listeners day after day. These individuals worked endlessly to reach their goals no matter what market they were in. Yes, they were in New York & LA and Chicago BUT they were also in Rockford, IL and Peoria. Why don’t we have more people like that today and why haven’t the legends of the past left an ongoing tradition? The answer may be found within the walls of countless radio station across the country.
For the most part, many years ago radio station were owned by several individuals or groups of people who were true radio broadcasters, many coming out of the entertainment business and were either on the air, or directed a core of people who were and were very much involved with the day to day on-air operation. As these personalities grew in popularity their audience grew as well. Because of this, advertising dollars grew at fabulous rates. Knowing this, the personalities warranted more money and the radio owners were willing to give it to them. They knew that these personalities were their immediate link to the audience, which meant money to them.
As time went on, non-radio people saw the money that was in radio, and decided to get involved in station ownership. This is where we can begin to see the problem for personalities beginning, but nobody knew to what extent at the time time. As time went on, the owners from a non-radio background began to ask the question, “do we need to pay this type of money for our radio announcers?” Their answer for this was no. So at that time they hired less advanced talent and expected them to perform at the level of the person they replaced. They didn’t…they couldn’t, they weren’t ready. So as they failed to perform and research was coming back saying the listeners were dissatisfied in the product…the main area of discontent…you guessed it… the personalities. The answer to this problem, for all practical purposes, was to take away the personality, not bring back the stars they ran off. Stations in medium & smaller markets saw this pulling back of the personalities as a trend in the business, not understanding the dynamics of the situation, so they began to do the same thing. Many super-stars never emerged after this.
Because of this, there were fewer and fewer people to train announcers to be great and fewer and fewer stations would allow it to happen anyway. The few stations that have dared to be great have exploded into the forefront and are by far the ratings and revenue leader in the market, almost without exception. Look at the best known radio personalities and you will find them on the top of the ratings pile. Lets all think about where we are…do we dare to be great?
Brian is a 30 year radio veteran who has successfully served many companies over the years as Program Director, Operations Manger and VP of programming. After many years of success working for individual radio stations and clusters, Brian Joined one of the most trusted consulting firms in the country, Audience Development Group. For the last 15 years Wright has enjoyed building alliances with scores of stations in the US & Canada helping them grow in ratings and revenue. Contact Brian at [email protected]