Monday, December 8, 2008

A (Non-Essential) Bullet With My Name On It

I usually don't make bold predictions about the year ahead, nor do I put much stock in them. Nevertheless, I have one prediction that's been rattling around in my head, so let's just get it out there and say that I hope I'm wrong:

I'll be let go again in 2009.

There. I just see too many things happening to radio clusters to believe that I will be in the same company this time next year. I don't know when the firing will happen. I don't know the circumstances surrounding it. I just think that it's meant to be. Air staffs and so-called "non-essential" radio personnel are being slashed to the core. My old company, Clear Channel is taking the lead on this, and when CC takes the lead in something, thing are bound to end badly. Picture a flock of ducks whose leader has one wing. They're all going to crash.

When we look at something like education and where they have to cut to save many, the last people looked at as "non-essential personnel" are the teachers. They have the connection with the children. Without good teachers, schools and the education system as a whole will fail. What does everyone want to cut? Administrators. Big wigs. Not the troops on the ground. Same with the car companies. Washington says that to make the auto bailout a little more palatable to the public (whose tax dollars would pay for it), the CEOs of the Big Three auto makers should step down. Not the people who build the cars. No. Management. Radio's solution? Take away the connection the general public has with the radio stations. Fire jock after jock, the people who differentiate radio from the competitors that are taking (especially younger ) listeners away. Not a good business plan.

I've never seen anything that said that radio companies should whittle back its management, and I doubt that I ever would. Only in a business like radio would the "non-essential personnel" be the people on a level closest to the audience you covet. Picture going shopping at Kohl's this Saturday and all that they have is one cashier because everyone else has been laid off. She can't help you find something because she has to ring up a customer. You can't find anyone to help you on the floor. You're told this is the way it's going to be from now on. Do you return to that store? Of course not, you're not a dope. Yet that's what radio will become in 2009: the big box store with only a couple of helpers and a dwindling customer base.

I really don't think I'm going to be one of the helpers. I think there's plenty of room in the "non-essential" bin for someone like me, and I'm guessing that's where I end up. Clip and save.

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