Monday, 4 August 2014

Radio In the Air

Can anyone give me a good, solid, valid reason why one of the requirements (not a 'it would be nice if', but a 'you must have') / qualifications to get a job in radio these days is to have a driver's licence?

Are all radio stations located so far from civilization that employees need cars? Why would this be? I'll tell you why: because the Consultants came and told the owners (now all practically corporations) that the building they had bought (and were mortgage-free of) was a liability and they could save money by leasing another building. It's a ludicrous scenario to make money now and burn it away in the long run. One of the reasons the original owners bought the building the radio station was in was so they would have long term equity. Sell the cow and buy your milk from the conglomerate.
The Consultants have a lot to answer for. They don't have the vision to see the long game. They are immediate, quick fix experts. How can this business generate money now? Fire the staff of experienced people who have worked hard to build the business and have invested their own time to make it what it is today. Then hire Justin Newbie so he can be programmed to think and work the new corporate way. There is a saying, "Half the age for half the wage."

Are all radio stations now situated in recreational vehicles and the staff have to take turns driving the thing? I once worked at a radio station that had been set up in a mobile home. It was placed up the hill from the railroad tracks. Every time an especially heavy train went by you could watch the needle dance across the record.
Presumably this need of a driver's licence is so the on-air personnel can drive the company van to locations for remote broadcasting. That's because radio 'remotes' (where an announcer comes to the business) aren't real 'remotes' any more. They haven't been for years.

There was a time when a business bought a remote, they'd get a miniature version of the radio station right in their store or other business location. Turntables, microphones, records, and announcers would set up shop for a few hours so the customers coming and going could get a real sense of 'live' radio. It was exciting and fun. It was an spectacle to attract patrons to a business. It was a reason for people to get into the store.

These remotes required engineers to lug and set up equipment. They drove the van, truck, or station wagon.

Then the Consultants came, telling radio managers they could save money by just using the phone for remotes. No need to haul out all that equipment. Just park the station van near the store and stick up a banner. Look at all the money you save. But businesses were no longer getting the value for the money they paid to the station. The circus no longer came to town. Now all they got was a trained monkey.

The Consultants argued that having an announcer on-site with all the radio trimmings wasn't necessary because people listen to radio for the music and information (which is true), they don't care who spins the disks. Consultants killed personality radio. "Make them generic and replaceable," the Consultants said. "If no one knows who they are you can replace them at the drop of hat." So businesses no longer even had the draw of a personality visiting their store. The quest for no-name announcers got so bad that some radio stations even had an equalizer installed to bring all of the announcer's voices into closer vocal range. Surely this scenario must be moving back towards personality radio, due to the ability of people to get their music and information off the internet. I hope so. But again we go back to the problem of firing the veterans (the people with life experience who know their audience) and hiring Justin Newbie (who has little to no experience - never mind radio experience, he's got no life experience - so how can he relate to the various ages of the members of his audience?) for a pittance.

Another thing that gets me is the insistence that creative writers have a driver's licence. They don't do remotes. Presumably this is so they can take the sales manager's car to be washed and detailed. And to pick up the dry cleaning.

Tell you what, new radio guys and gals, here's a way to save even more money: drop your building lease and buy a dirigible. Sure the gases required to keep it airborne are slightly unstable. (We all remember the whole Hindenburg incident, but that was years ago.) You'd be able to set that puppy up anywhere. Think of the additional revenue from the scrolling ads on the giant billboard across the side. (It worked for the Goodyear blimp, it'll work for you, too.)Think: Radio that's explosive.

So now I'm waiting for the new crop of radio job ads to say, "Must have a valid airship licence and be a non-smoker."

One final note: Job ads that state a driver's licence as a requirement, when the main function of the job itself does not actually involve driving, cannot have the employer list themselves as 'an equal opportunity employer' because (under the Canadian Employment Equity Act) they are discriminating against the disabled.

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