Sunday, November 09, 2008

Say Goodbye To The "B" Students: For years, the radio industry had the rap of being a safe haven for "C" students. With the last wave of consolidations and job cuts a few years ago, most of them were eliminated. Now, with another round of eliminations happening as you read this, the "B" students are also in danger. At minimum, "B+" students and up will survive (and even all of those are not safe).

The real question is: What can you do now to survive, let alone thrive? It's a cliche to say you should wear more than one hat. The days of "four and out the door" (doing your airshift and going home) ended many years ago. Today, you will be most valuable if you can demonstrate the following:

a. Web skills. Master HTML. Help your station build on its interactive community. The web-savvy person in the building becomes increasingly valuable as others are stretched to the max.

b. Find ways to save money. Come to your manager with cost saving ideas that will not damage the product. Better yet, find ways to save money and actually improve the station.

c. Become proficient in more than one format. Format experts who only do one format in the same building are becoming a dying breed.

d. Gain a wide range of experiences. Show your eagerness to learn. If your station has a new Talk sister station, volunteer to report on election night (even if you're the PD of a music station!). If a morning producer is out sick, offer to go in and help.

e. Become the "go to" person. Meaning that if a task needs doing, everyone knows that you will do it well and in a timely fashion...and that you will first ask questions if there is something you don't know...Which leads us to:

f. Ask Questions. Many don't do this, for fear that they will be perceived as somehow lacking. Take it from a former manager, questions are ALWAYS appreciated, as they show a thirst for self- improvement and the desire to help the common cause.

g. Don't fly under the radar. Eventually, someone reviewing the station budget will ask, "What does HE do?" and, "Why should we keep him?". Give that person lots of proof that you are an indispensable member of the team.

h. Read vociferously. It may seem obvious, but take the time to stay informed. Know what's going on not only in your industry, but in the world around you. How are other industries coping with the economic downturn? There's plenty you can learn and benefit from.

Knowledge, combined with practical experience, is your best tool to make it through the rough seas ahead.