Don’t Panic, It’s Time to Step Up

This article was originally posted to AllAccess’ “Consultant Tips” series, written by Charese Fruge on September 8, 2020

Charese FrugeLet’s face it, last week was BRUTAL for the radio industry. Well over two dozen jobs were eliminated in an already shrinking business. The reason? According to one company memo, “To reimagine and enhance programming and sales strategies to ensure that we are meeting evolving listener and consumer expectations. Putting the listener First – to deliver the most compelling and engaging content, regardless of where it originates.” And while I am extremely proud and happy for most of the talent who will be picking up the slack and covering multiple markets to fill in the talent gaps, what about all the very talented people who got let go at a time when jobs are few and far between? And let’s be honest, the statement “No matter where the content originates” isn’t going to help stations or sales on a local level. We know that from experience.

That is why it is important right now not to panic. If you are out of work, remember the business has been changing significantly since the invention of the internet and the onset of PPM. It just took us forever to embrace it, so we are playing catch up. But there is a whole new world out there you can embrace as talent. Ask yourself what is Plan B? And start working on it immediately. Working on a Podcast should be #1 on your list. Buildup your YouTube Channel and perfect all your social media accounts. Put on your sales hat and think about creative ways to help local clients you have a history with via your own media outlets. If you are any good, you have a decent following. And if you have any charitable partnerships, get creative with campaigns to help both them and yourself. For example, I am very passionate about Big Brothers Big Sisters. I have a LIL Sis and I have also volunteered to help them with events and branding campaigns. This is a great way to build a bridge between a charity and local sponsors who are looking to get involved with charitable causes. These kinds of things look good on your resume and portfolios.

If you are a programmer or manager, you need to be present. For a long time now, I have spoken to both talent and PD’s who have been walking around on egg shells, not being communicated with, and who are just waiting for the next shoe to drop. This is extremely bad for motivation, especially when it comes to talent (both on air and programming). And the timing could not be worse with a global pandemic and enormous social injustice in our country. People are depressed and anxious enough without having to live in fear that their position could be eliminated at the drop of a hat.
If you are a programmer or manager, reach out to your talent and make sure they are okay. Make sure you give them a reason to be motivated to perform for you and your brand. That is your job, whether you signed up for it or not. If you are only worried about yourself, you have no business being a manager. And be open and honest. To be a good leader, you must be sympathetic to pressure and a LEADER when it comes to dealing with it.

And one other thing you need to do. You ARE lucky to have a job right now. Reach out to those who don’t and offer them some help. Whether it is connecting them with a few people or giving them some career advice. A little bit will go a long way for both of you. There will come a time when you are in the same position.

And finally, the sales department is going to need some serious help selling a local brand with national content. Sales Managers, Talent, Programmers, Digital and Social Managers as well as Promotions should all be doing strategic research and strategy on how to localize national talent and events for individual brands. That should start with introducing the sales team and local clients to individual talent. You need more than a bio to sell a morning show or afternoon show. You need personal contact with talent, getting to know them, what drives them and what they offer for entertainment. It is up to all parties including talent to make sure this happens. And it is up to all programmers and producers (if you have one) to make sure talent are on top of anything and everything that moves the needle in a market. The days of staying on your side of the building are over. If this strategy is going to succeed, it is all hands on deck and nothing but A Players who understand that “that’s not my department” does not exist anymore.