Life After Radio

This article was originally posted to AllAccess’ “Consultant Tips” series, written by Charese Fruge on May 11, 2021 

Life After Radio, it’s something all of us in the industry need to think about, especially right now while the traditional outlet seems to be shrinking faster and faster thanks to consolidation, and the evolution of the “Audio and Streaming Industries.” It’s definitely been top of mind since the onset of the pandemic and major radio companies have had serious layoffs for the purpose of downsizing headcount in an attempt to relieve financial challenges and major loss of revenue.

The topic of “Life After Radio” has been covered at the latest summits and on Clubhouse panels. It’s top of mind for talent who still have jobs in the industry, but worry about their future and even more so among those who have already lost their jobs, and see little hope of finding their next opportunity due to the elimination of positions. It’s sure to be a continuing topic of discussion for at least the next two years. One of the biggest challenges no matter what part of the industry you work in is the potential of losing your identity. That’s an incredible blow to self esteem while having to deal with the loss of a job at the same time. The good news is you don’t have to do that anymore.

It used to be that when you lost your job in and/or on the radio, you were dead to the world until and unless you found another one. Your social life was non-existent, you lost fans and lost your immediate posse (those who hung out with you just because you worked in the business). First, after a while you’ll get over that and realize what’s really important. Second, if you were any good, and established yourself as an influencer (no matter what your role was while you had the job), you will have built a strong brand outside of the traditional station you worked for through networking, social media and digital outlets. If you haven’t yet, start now. And if you are really good, start a YouTube Channel and/or Podcast to continue to grow your brand and monetize it.

The younger generation (and by that, I mean, Gen Z, Millennials, and even some Gen X’ers) have already learned to monetize Social Media, YouTube, Podcasting and even Clubhouse to continue the brand and pay the bills on their own. Some have even delved into creating and selling merch to market and support their brands. These days, it’s almost better to work for yourself vs. a large company that wants ownership of your individual name and brand so they can profit from it while you put in all the passion and work. It is just as much a privilege these days for companies to have strong talent with sales instincts on their team as it is vice versa, especially since traditional revenue is almost non-existent at this point. Work out a deal if you can for commission on what you bring to the table, or a percentage of the revenue they earn from your personal brand.

Here’s more good news about this topic. “Life After Radio” just might be “Life In Between Radio.” If you are or were good at expanding your brand, you may just not be in a position where you are done with radio all together yet. If you understand and are open to the evolution of radio moving into the “audio, streaming and digital” business, the companies who get it and want to survive will hire you moving forward. But you’ve got to keep growing and expanding the brand. You’ve got to continue to be a student of radio (audio) and digital technology. You’ve got to be focused on growing a mass audience by appealing to the age groups who actively participate in audio and digital activity. The job descriptions lately are slowly but surely beginning to change. Read them and learn from them.

The problem with the radio business (still today) is we keep putting the “usual suspects” in positions of power who continue to preach innovation, while doing things exactly the same way we have been doing them for years and hiring the “usual suspects” to oversee operations. How many times have you heard the phrase “The definition of insanity is doing things exactly the same way over and over again, and expecting different results?” This is exactly what is killing the radio business. Which leads me to my last point.

“Life After Radio” could be the best thing that ever happened to you. I have seen many talented people take what they have learned in the business and turn it into amazing streaming and tech jobs, and talent who work for themselves now in the “audio” industry. I have several friends who no longer have high blood pressure or have to see a therapist due to the pressure of having to hold down multiple jobs because of the loss of people power (A Whole ‘Nuther Topic). It doesn’t mean they don’t love radio and wouldn’t get back into it for the right situation, but it’s going to take a minute to determine what the new state of radio is.

I have also seen many colleagues turn their “passion projects” into new careers. Whether it’s gardening, pet grooming, health and beauty, and yes even an adult toy company, these days, becoming an entrepreneur and doing your own thing is all the rage. It’s especially good for Women who continue to struggle in what is a predominantly Male industry. Especially after the pandemic which impacted over 2 million women in the US work force and impacted at least $800 billion in income loss for them globally. With the change in mentality about working from home, this could be the time to start thinking about plan B, living your best life, and “Life After Radio.