10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started In Radio

listBy Sharon Taylor – ByrnesMedia

I knew lots in my 20’s.  I knew that call letters never went into stopsets, but always went into music.  I knew that stopsets sounded better when the national commercials went first. I knew that promotions were never about doing a draw for a prize in a bar – but instead about everything that could go wrong with drawing for a prize in a bar. I knew that the more edits that were in a piece of production, the better it had to be.  I knew that women were welcome in sales departments and admin, but not programming.  And I knew that I loved radio.

Sure, from time to time, radio and I have talked about separating, but I’m afraid that our relationship is one of those ‘til death do us part deals.

Here are 10 of the many things I wish I had known way, way back when I first started in the business.

1. Discretion is the better part of valour.  I was the Queen of Confrontation. Ready to solve problems NOW.  I wish I had known that waiting for just one day would result in a higher level of discourse, especially in critical or volatile situations. It would have saved me and others a lot of wasted adrenaline. Always sleep on it.

2. There will come a time when being a female in broadcasting will be a positive thing. I spent a lot of time trying to fit into my tribe when I first got in the business. To be taken seriously, I morphed into a tougher version of myself – didn’t cry when it was assumed I would empty the ashtrays or fetch the coffee; helped cover up many a male colleague’s transgression. Gender bias in radio was anything but subtle. Today, being female in broadcasting is a positive thing. Now, if we could just not have it be a “thing” at all…

3. Between the songs is a lot like between the sheets.  Not only important, it can be the most important thing.  Everyone has music and some curate it better than others.  However, personality and content is king and the people who provide it are royalty. Ignore the importance of what happens between the sheets – I mean between the songs – at your peril.

4. A good idea should belong to everybody.  The magic of a good idea is that it’s the tide that floats all boats. If no one can remember who came up with the original idea – the healthier and happier everyone is.  After the original CISS-FM in Toronto came up with their Mugs and Kisses campaign (the one that netted them a first book 7 share), even the players in the room weren’t exactly sure who came up with what.

5. The important thing about being a local radio station is actually being local.  If you truly dedicate your efforts, energy and resources into feeding the community you’re in, it will feed you. There is nothing better than being the local radio station.  With the distribution now available on air, online and on site, radio is situated to make a difference in local communities like never before. Ask Gary Slaight if it’s important for success. Gord Rawlinson. Jimmy Pattison. Owner/operators passionately know this in a way that enormous companies don’t and won’t.

6. People who don’t agree with you are actually not idiots.  Okay, this was probably exclusive to me, but I had to learn this and, need I add, the hard way.  My first PD, after I ranted to him about an unreasonable request a sales rep had made (I was the Promotions Director) asked  – “what do you think will happen if you do what he wants?”  I responded that the answer was obvious.  The rep would then think that he had really pulled the wool over my stupid eyes. As my PD’s head dropped in disappointment he offered this – “No Sharon, he would just be happy.”  Everyone wants to be successful and happy and everyone wants to be heard.

7. Being well liked IS as important as being good at what you do.  Oh boy.  I clung to the illusion that it didn’t matter what people thought of me, it only mattered that they thought I was good. Here’s a truth bomb.  You’re going to have to be good at what you do, and be a good, decent human to people while you’re doing it. Spend the time and energy to really connect with the people you work with. You’ll learn about the business from the bosses, and learn a lot about life from your co-workers.

8. There is always room for more pie.  First it was TV, then videos, then gaming, then satellite radio, then the internet. There have been predictions of radio’s death forever. Those predictions from Chicken Little will never go away.  Do not succumb to the prevailing attitude that anything that cuts into your pie might kill you. Nothing can kill local radio, we are as nimble, creative, flexible and adaptable as they come.  The more pie, the better.  It’s all pie.

9. Things always work out as they should.  This hippy dippy annoying cliché is thankfully true.  The crappy co-worker, the out of touch boss, the failed promotion, that WRONG phone number on the direct mail piece, getting fired – it’s never the end of the world.  All that “when a door closes, a window opens” is absolutely true. A career is made up of many things, and in the end, they always work out as they should.

10. This too will pass.  In your 20’s and 30’s time will feel spacious and benevolent.  In your 40’s and 50’s time starts taking on a different look and feel.  It can be compressed and mean.  Birthdays seem to come around faster and faster.  Recognize this and remember that it doesn’t matter whether you presently wish that “this too will pass” or “I hope this never ends.” It will.

I’d love to read your list!  Sharon@ByrnesMedia.com  If you want to talk to someone about your piece of radio pie – I love radio and of course, pie! Call me maybe? 905-332-1331