The radio industry has changed dramatically since most of us chose broadcasting as a career.
Gordon McLendon once said, “Radio…just the word creates within me a feeling unlike any other.”
It was an almost magnetic draw…the music, news, promotions, personalities, and local connection with the audience. In recent years, however, so much of that has changed. A friend of mine does a morning show and said that when they arrive at the station, they turn on the studio lights. At the end of the shift, they turn the lights off…because nobody will be live in the studio until they return the next morning.
So, with all the changes in the radio landscape, would you choose it as a career if you were starting out now? Here is a sample of the replies.
Ken Levine No. Not a chance. And it breaks my heart to say that.
Jody Dean Yes, but I’d be smarter about how I went about it.
Martin Greenberg I wonder too… and yet you talk to a 25 year old in the business and they are just as excited as I was…just a somewhat different business.
Mike Hagerty Today’s nine weeks since I got a copy of the home game in the January iHeart layoffs. No fun. But, on balance, the 49 years leading up to that, with all its ups and downs, was one great ride. I’d do it over, but I’d have a hard time encouraging a young person to start today.
Scott Chapin Sure. so many other things to branch off into.
Marty Manning Honestly, if I were 23 years old and someone said to me come down to our radio station and do voices for us, as happened in 1970… I’m pretty sure I would say yes and just see what happens from there.
Jim Williams When I was in high school, it was all I wanted to do. So I did. Twenty-five years later I got out. Do I regret that time? Absolutely not, but I got out at the right time. If I was in high school now, I don’t think anything about radio would motivate me to become a part of it. I don’t hear the excitement now.
Al Rosen For the last few years I was at CBS Radio, I wanted to ask our interns why the hell they wanted to get into radio. Most of their friends never even LISTEN to radio.
It’s SO unlike when we all started in the business.
Ken Minyard Not really much of a business to get into.
Dave Otto I was stupid then and I’m stupid now. Answer….YES!
John Landecker Nope.
Michael Clancy Sounds just like the answers a newspaper reporter would give.
John Fox The reasons I had 45 years ago aren’t there anymore, so I doubt I’d be tempted to follow the path I did. With full 20/20 hindsight there are different areas of communications I’d consider. And if what’s left of the industry knows what’s good for itself, it’ll incorporate and become part of that to salvage and rejuvenate itself.
Greg Schulte Been at it for 47-years and still going. Radio not nearly what it was by a wide margin.
So much has changed. But I’ll say yes.
Nick Alexander We were fortunate to be there when radio mattered and cared about the community it was serving. Now it’s voice tracking, how cheap can you run a station and how many commercials can you cram in 60 minutes. I would not do it today.
George Johns Of course not. I only got into it because it was more fun than playing in a band.
Ideas and questions welcome. [email protected]
Mike HagertyMarch 20, 2020 at 6:55 am
Charlie: Thank you for including my take, and one of my favorite pictures—my wife and I six years ago, on a visit to the radio station I was working at when we first met in 1977.
Brad LovettMarch 22, 2020 at 8:14 pm
Late to the game but just to get my 2 cents in….if it was 1975 again, I absolutely would get into radio, but I would do things much, much differently, and with a better work ethic. If I was a teenager today, I’d know that there’s no such thing as a career in “radio” but there are plenty of opportunities to create and distribute content (I
m involved in some of that) and that can include radio (and podcasting). No, you won’t be playing the hits on the all-night shift in Fargo, but you’ll be on a YouTube channel, and with some luck, you might cut through the noise (note all the content that’s being created during our forced sequestering).
Samuel RosenblattMarch 23, 2020 at 10:21 pm
Great reading some of the “Would you do it again” posts.
Here is my unabridged version:
I got a start in high school. One English teacher wanted to have her own station over the school’s public address system. She had the school board purchase a board, a couple of turntables, a reel-to-reel, but only one cart machine. I wasn’t even in her class. One of my buddies was in her class, and was scheduled to be the first to “broadcast” over the system. He froze. Just had a look in his eyes as if he had seen “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.” I urged him to start, and he turned to me and said, “You do it!” So I sat down and played a song (don’t remember which one). When it ended, I did the old “That was..” and read a live commercial about a school play. I turned on the next record, and within 30 seconds, the door FLEW open, and the teacher was standing there demanding, “WHO IS DOING THIS?” I said, “I am.” She looked at me, looked at the kid who was supposed to be on, then turned back to me and said, “You’ve got this shift. Then come see me.” Ended up I was “placed” into her Radio I class while I was on. After that, this same teacher invited a local radio personality from Tell City, IN to see how we did things. I was on when he came in, and we talked during the records. Before he left, he asked me if I would work for his station. Guess what I said? Was in the business from 1973 through 1988. Primarily small market, but did work at a 100K watt FM station in Owensboro, KY (WBKR).
Sorry for the length, but haven’t had the opportunity to tell this story since sometime during the last century.
Samuel RosenblattMarch 23, 2020 at 10:22 pm
And I would do it again. Forgot to add that.
Matthew OsborneJune 9, 2021 at 12:27 pm
This is a hard question for me to truthfully answer. As others have said here, there are several key differences in the industry now versus when I was younger and inspired to make a run at it. Since very few people under the age of 30 even listen to the radio anymore, I’m not sure that I would listen if I were a child today. That would deprive me from being exposed to the personalities and presentations that first inspired me back then. So in that case, my answer would probably be no. But if things were the same as they were back in the late 80s/early 90s as far as radio’s popularity/stature, I would do it again without a moment of hesitation. Even though the industry didn’t work out for me, working in it was a life experience that I will forever be grateful for.