What to do when you’ve lost your way in radio

Steve Kowch blog photoSpecial Report: A guide on how to survive in radio 

I guess you gotta be outside of radio looking in to shake your head when people moan and groan about how it’s not like the old days. Too many people partake in this kind of conversation in radio stations every day.

Living in the past prevents you from embracing the future and puts you on the fast track out the door. Radio – and media in general – has become a young person’s game. You see it on television and hear younger voices on the radio.   

It’s not because radio doesn’t value experience. Radio management just doesn’t like paying high salaries to people who’ve been around since Marconi threw the switch and bring nothing new to the table. So a target is placed on their backs and when times are tough (like now with dropping sales revenue) they are the first to be cut.

But it doesn’t always have to be this way.

The sad thing is that most people doing the bitching don’t understand they come across as dinosaurs. They need to look around the radio station, the newsroom, the studio and at station events and listen to what the new generation is talking about.

If they would just stop trying to convince the younger generation of broadcasters and journalists that in their day things were better and that they cared more about the on air product, than maybe, just maybe they might see that everything is fine, thank you very much.

The younger generation (well younger than us old timers) is chasing its dream and enjoying every second of it – just like we did in our day. I have been in media since I was 17-years-old. Today, I watch TV and listen to radio and take pride in hearing and seeing the people I gave their first jobs to and mentored them who are now today’s stars of radio and TV. Some are morning show hosts, talk show hosts and reporters on some of the biggest radio stations in Canada. Others are anchoring the news on TV stations in Toronto or filling in for Peter Mansbridge on CBC’s The National. Two are program directors of two of the largest newstalk radio stations in Canada while another has just been appointed news director at Global TV in Toronto who just happens to be reporting to the VP I hired as a young reporter for a national news service I ran way back when!

They all have one thing in common. They have a positive attitude, they work hard and love chasing their dream to have a successful career. And, they aren’t alone. Media outlets are full of these young people who have no time to sit around with the old timers to hear their war stories and complaints.

If you’re over 50 and you want to survive in media, than you need to spend more time listening to the young people around you. Spend more time with them in their sandbox to learn the new ways of communicating with your listeners on social media. In return, mentor them. Don’t fill their heads with negative stories. Share your success with them so that they can learn from the master.

If all this makes me sound like a pollyanna. You’re right. I am. And I shot a 60 second video for my kowchmedia website to prove it.

Steve Kowch ran two of Canada’s largest newstalk radio stations in Montreal and Toronto for more than 14 years. He was National Director of NewsTalk Radio Programming for Astral Media. He was a professor at two of Toronto’s leading broadcast schools and is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Making It BIG In Media. Today Steve is Canada’s leading media coach at kowchmedia helping emerging radio talent chase their dream to become great broadcasters.

Contact Steve at 647-521-6397 or email steve@kowchmedia.com