Go figure. My daughter and son-in-law are P1s of “CBS Sunday Morning.” I learned this when they stayed with us last weekend.
I actually earned some points when I told them my good friend and industry colleague, Jay Kernis, produces segments for the show. They were impressed….as they should be. Jay is brilliant at what he does, producing for Mike Wallace at “60 Minutes” before joining the team at NPR.
We met Jay when was SVP Programming for National Public Radio (as it was called then.) You'd think someone who rose through those ranks, survived Mike Wallace, and all the other network bigwigs and honchos would be a self-satisfied jerk.
That couldn't be farther from the truth. Paul and I met Jay on our first day working with NPR, appropriately in the observation room of a focus group facility. Our first assignment was to do groups for a new NPR weekend program that was struggling. It had the quirky title of “Wait, Wait…Don't Tell Me!” Jay, along with executive producer, Doug Berman, was there to learn. We clicked with Jay the moment we met. And for several years until he departed NPR (not one of the better days in Radioville), we enjoyed every bit of our working relationship and personal friendship.
That Jay – a world class storyteller – gets to do this for millions of viewers every week is really something. Believe me, he's got a more interesting Facebook page than you or I do.
And while watching the show last weekend, I was riveted by a feature story on Harrison Ford, an actor who's enjoyed an amazing career for decades. Of course, he's more than earned it. We watched the guy who rocketed to fame as Han Solo tell Ben Mankiewicz how he bought this gigundous ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming 40 years ago and hasn't missed Hollywood for a single moment.
Now at 80 years-old, Ford is starring in a new western with Helen Mirren being shot in nearby Montana. It's called “1923,” and it's a prequel to the smash hit, “Yellowstone,” featuring another icon, Kevin Costner. Ford loves the storytelling in this new show, calling it “audacious.” And he reveals he has other projects in the works, promoting the fifth Indiana Jones film, as well as shooting a new Captain America movie.
Mankiewicz wraps up the feature with the requisite old guy question – whether Harrison Ford has given any thought to “calling it quits.”
And without pause, Ford responds, “Yeah, yeah, I like my job!”
I immediately thought about my own career path as a guy who's been in my business for more than minute, “Yeah, me, too.”
But then I wondered how everyone else in radio might answer that question. And I flashed on a CNBC story Brother Bill emailed me that morning with a jaw-dropping title:
“96% of workers are looking for a new job in 2023, poll says.”
Seriously? Ninety-freaking-six percent want out of their current gigs – “largely in search of better pay?!” That's according to Monster.com research that suggests that along with competitors Indeed, Zip Recruiter, and the others, it's going to be a banner year for these companies that thrive on widespread job dissatisfaction.
But 96%? That's almost everybody! Not 86% or 76% – those would be BIG NUMBERS. 96% are looking for that greener grass in 2023.
That so many people are apparently unhappy with their work is disconcerting to say the least. Sure, it's been a challenging time for most of these past few years. But the idea that so many people think there are better fortunes in the job market just over the next rise seems naïve and more than a little unrealistic.
Now, you're probably thinking what I'm thinking: who'd they talk to, how big is the sample, how were the interviews conducted, and when was this study fielded?
I found some of the answers, but not all of them. The survey was conducted in December among 930 respondents.
But most of the stories I read about this Monster.com research lacked these important details – includinge the report on Monster's own website. It's linked here and it's not especially helpful.
With a little digging, I find out that 40% of those looking for jobs are apparently unemployed? That doesn't square up with any reality I see suggesting that fewer than 4% of Americans are without a job. That's according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That odd sampling anomaly partially explains these results.
I also learned January is usually job hunting month to begin with – new year, new start, new job. But I do find out, according to Monster career expert Vicki Salemi, that “even compared to the Great Resignation,” this level of job search activity is “phenomenally high.” Well, yeah.
And that makes me wonder: Is it this grim in radio?
Are there that many unhappy people behind the mic, selling time, creating digital content, scheduling music, and running logs? Sure, it's tough out there. But this study makes it sound like the majority of people you bump into in the halls or on Zoom calls are polishing up those resumes.
One thing we know for certain. Last summer, we interviewed 750 members of the air talent/producers community (including some who are unemployed) for our AQ4 study of radio personalities we conduct in collaboration with Morning Show Boot Camp.
And a key question in each year's survey is revealing. We ask our respondents to tell us the “main reasons” they got into radio from a list. Here's how it shook out:
Now, we know that everyone who works in the radio business – in programming, sales, management, digital, engineering – does not necessarily agree with that foundational goal of having fun and entertaining people. And we might also conclude there's a little response bias at play here. After all, how do we explain how money, fame, and sex ended up at the bottom of this list?
Be that as it may, it's pretty conclusive that on-air personalities are generally in it for more than the dough. I'd venture to say that many people in radio – whether they ended up behind the mic or not – chose this career path because it looked like a fun way to make a living. That's probably not the case for many professionals in other lines of work, be it accounting, medicine, the law, or in one end of the business world or another. To this day, people I meet for the first time clearly react when they learn I'm in radio. There's an assumption it sounds like fun, even though many know our business is under the same pressures others who work in traditional media roles are experiencing.
Truth be told, on a wide majority of the days I've had the honor to work in this field, there's been joy, fulfillment, and thankfulness for my job – the people I've met and worked with, the opportunities I've had, and the ability to innovate and create. There have been frustrating days, too, but that's par for the course, as my Dad always reminded us. Especially for a career I've been working in for nearly a half century.
But what about you? How's it going – especially in this post-COVID, recession-paranoid environment? You still having a good time? Do the pros outweigh the cons? And if you're on the beach, what's the plan? Are you ready for the next round or are you moving on?
Look in the mirror. Let us know.
You can use the comments below, or hit up my social pages (links below). I fully understand if you cannot identify yourself – I think we're all good with that. By the same token, please refrain on unloading on your boss or your company by name. (Think of it like standup comedy minus the F-bombs.)
We may not all be Harrison Ford-level happy, but we are in this thing together.
I have tremendous empathy, respect, and love for radio people – who they are, what they do, and what they've sacrificed along the way.
Tell your story. We're listening.
- An Open (News)Letter To Radio - December 6, 2023
- The Case For Handcrafted Radio - December 5, 2023
- Is It Time For The Music Industry To Write Radio A “Dear Genre” Letter? - December 4, 2023