In radio it’s not IF you get fired but WHEN you get fired

Steve Kowch blog photoFrom where I sit On The Kowch, summer is a time to relax and wait for the next shoe to drop in your career. That’s because in radio it’s not IF but WHEN they show you the door. And late summer is like the NHL trade season. It’s when new budgets are being prepared to kick in September 1st. The WHEN may be sooner than you think.

If you’re on your way out the door, the station wants to do it before September to keep the cost of your severance in the fiscal’s budget that ends August 31st.

It’s also the time leading up to the Fall ratings where the stations are being tweaked. If there are programming changes they want it to take place prior to the start of ratings. Changes can result in listener unrest. Program Directors don’t want listeners reacting by stop listening to their station during the all important Fall ratings.

If  you’re going to piss off the listener by firing a popular host do it out of ratings

Hope that by the time Fall ratings start listeners have stopped their protest and returned your station’s frequency to the pre-set in their car.

This will only happen if the replacement host is better than the one you fired. Change is necessary in radio to maintain ratings. When shows or its hosts get stale and ratings slip, the business model kicks in and loyalty goes out the window. Today, money talks and people walk – especially in publicly traded media empires.

At a radio conference in the US a few years ago the head of one of the biggest radio chains in America said new shows get the luxury of only one or two books. If they can’t make a positive impact on ratings they’re gone! Well, it should not have come as much of a surprise when a few months later, I read this person was fired because of slipping revenues brought on by poor ratings.

It doesn’t matter if you’re on air or in the corner office. The same rules apply. If the owners think a change is needed to boost ratings and revenue, you’re outta there.

That’s why I write in my book 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Making It BIG In Media you need to negotiate your severance package when you are hired. It’s not the time to negotiate the severance package while they’re handing you termination papers and showing you the door.

From where I Sit On The Kowch, when it’s time for contract renewal forget the extra vacations, more contra or a bigger car. Go for an improved severance package. Get it in writing and then enjoy the summer. It’s an insurance policy that gives you piece of mind and helps soften the pain of losing your job.

Steve Kowch ran two of Canada’s largest newstalk radio stations for 14 years Contact: