Radio's Eve of Destruction

You don’t believe
We’re on the eve
Of destruction

Barry McGuire sang those words in his Vietnam War era song that in a scary way also applies to the radio industry these days.

1. Inside Radio is reporting that radio is re-thinking the three month sales guarantee for salespeople.

Radio sales is already a losing proposition. This makes it worse. My friend Barry O'Brien, the former Radio & Records sales giant and the best salesperson I know, says the best sellers want to be on commission. But to start them out -- the way radio does on the cheap -- taking away the already too-short three month draw will help to destroy a hurting industry. Unrealistic sales goals. Lack of proper training. Treating a sales career in radio as a career selling brushes door to door. Inappropriate sales motivation by "managers" who have long ago forgotten that sales is a relationship business (except on Google -- you know, the Google the radio industry ogles because then they wouldn't need any salespeople -- or fewer for sure).

As one of my readers put it:

I "guarantee" you 90% of radio managers have the famous Glengarry Glen Ross Alec Baldwin monologue on their computers..."First place is a new Cadillac, second place is a set of steak knives, and third place you're fired!" When these same managers show that at a sales meeting, as they are wont to do, how do Xers and Y's respond?

Imagine where tomorrow's radio salespeople are going to come from with boneheaded moves like this virtually assuring continued declines in local sales revenue at a time when the economy and digital competitors are cutting into broadcasting.

2. Radio groups are doubling up program director jobs again.

Didn't the radio industry go through this before -- several times before. There is no end in sight. CBS is consolidating two all news-stations -- KFWB and KNX -- under one PD (David Hall). Andy Ludlum got his walking papers and CBS got another level of cost reduction. The only problem is that we all know -- and CBS does, too -- that two complicated all-news stations cannot be operated by one person no matter how able. CBS is not alone nor were they first. This latest trend is destruction of the product. For anyone who now programs radio stations or has ever done so, they know -- the quality of content will decline and the people creating the content are missing an important leader, manager and motivator.

3. Syndicated suicide

KLAC in Los Angeles just got rid of their local evening show. They are repeating the afternoon show until next Monday when a syndicated show will begin. KLAC was the only station to do it but this is yet another destructive trend. You'd think the radio CEOs who continue to mismanage their radio groups would begin to see the danger. If they do, they've swallowed their tongues. If they don't, shame on them. The more live and local programming radio can do, the healthier the station. This does not mean an occasional syndicated program is unwelcome. But now, the occasional local show is getting to be the norm in critical time periods.

4. Wasted Money on Consumer Initiatives.

The NAB and RAB spend considerable time and money -- or should I say waste considerable time and money -- promoting their meaningless concepts of radio's strengths. Take Radio Heard Here -- please! Does that embarrass you as much as it does me? And have you ever once seen a Radio Heard Here sign in a retail store? Rule one: before you promote something, you have to have something exciting or game changing that people will be interested in. How about "Less Radio More of the Time" or "More Radio by Fewer Employees". Oh -- now I know why they came up with Radio Heard Here. Don't even get me started on the money radio groups have wasted and continue to waste propping up HD radio. Am I sacrilegious if I simply point out I have never heard anyone of any age talk about HD radio.

5. Internet Immolation

To the radio robber barons you'd think the Internet was an inconvenience -- something that ruined their profits party. But it's exactly the opposite. The Internet is the party and will be for at least a generation or more. Yet these CEOs have no clue as to what to do with it which is why you can't find a radio group that spends even a paltry 5% of its operating budget on Internet and mobile content. And by the way, 5% assures them of failure because it will take 20% or more yearly and oh -- did I mention that they have to know what they're doing vis-a-vis generational media? Aw, forget it. They have. Radio is radio to the myopic radio CEOs. If it can't be sliced and diced, they don't like it. These desperate mis-managers must think they are selling Ginsu knives.

This whole crazy world is just too frustratin’

And you tell me

Over and over and over again, my friend

Ah, you don’t believe

We’re on the eve

Of destruction.

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