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October 31, 2014

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First Mediaworks


10/11/99 Has Anybody Seen My Old Friend, Radio?
As I spend my days looking for productive ways in which Radio can make use of the Internet, I continue to run across Internet start-ups that target Radio employees to steal. The first time I saw this happen was a couple of years ago, when a station manager told me that a top employee had just left him to join Broadcast.com. I've since learned the ex-employee is now a multi-millionaire. Judy Carlough, the dy-namo responsible for the RAB's presence among national advertisers, was recently wooed away by the Internet - another big loss for Radio. But it makes perfect sense when you stop to think about it: not just that Internet companies will offer jobs to all of Radio's best people, but that many of our people will take those jobs. And why not? In many ways, the Internet has replicated all the best parts of Radio. Remember when delivering a quality product and developing a fun culture were nearly as important to a station manager as his bottom line? Back then, we knew that it took happy employees to create a fun product, that it took a fun product to create a big audience and that it took a big audience to create strong revenues. Did consolidation somehow change that equation? Or did we just get so busy that we forgot? Like Radio of yesterday, today's Internet is built of focused teams, each trying to do something great, to outrun the competition and beat the clock. These Internet team members are willing to plow through brick walls for their CEO. All they want in return is a chance to create an awesome product and share in the spoils of victory. It's no wonder that Internet companies are going after Radio people, because these are exactly the kinds of people that have always been attracted to Radio! Answer me this: Why would a person choose a career in Radio today? Why should they put up with a 1930's management style of relentless, negative pressure, when all they're offered in return is a modest income and zero chance at a piece of the action? Can you come up with a single reason why they shouldn't jump headlong into the Internet lifestyle of fun, casual dress and fat financial rewards? Entrepreneurial companies tend to be a lot more fun than big conglomerates, because the people on an entrepreneurial commando team are out to prove something. What is consolidated Radio out to prove? Everywhere I turn, I hear Radio people complaining about their corporate culture, the lack of opportunity, and their inability to take pride in their product. These people are taking Internet jobs only because they're not being given the tools it takes to make great Radio stations. I wish I didn't have to say these things. But I've got to say them because they're true. Somewhere in America right now, a Radio station bookkeeper is saying to a group CEO, "We figured out how to automate the announcer's job, and it increased the bottom line. Now if we can only figure out how to automate the AE's job and sales manager's job, we'll really have it made!"

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