One of the nice things about owning your own business is that you don't spend a lot of time thinking about your next job. But after 3+ decades at Jacobs Media, we sure talk a lot about jobs, careers, and futures – especially when it comes to young people. Recently, Paul Jacobs had an interesting encounter on the career front. His guest posts are always popular, and today's appears below. – FJ
Remember board games? I have fond memories of family vacations, pulling out “Monopoly,” “Risk,” and “Life” – all games designed to teach strategy and competitiveness, while also giving us a taste for adulthood – or at least a version created by the game maker of the day, Parker Brothers.
One of their best was “Careers” – a board game designed to help kids gain a better sense for really cool jobs – even being President of the United States! I dug up this old commercial on YouTube, a testament to how things have changed on the employment front with today’s kids.
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I was reminded of “Careers” a couple weeks back when I was asked to participate in a Michigan Association of Broadcasters event called “Broadcast Career Builder Conference” – or BCBC.
As we know, much of the data from research studies, from our Techsurveys to the Infinite Dial to Nielsen ratings, show declines in radio listening among young adults. There is no question that the industry’s connection with generations Y and Z may not be as strong as it was when Gen X and Boomers were in their prime, but radio still matters. I saw proof of this at the BCBC event.
Many radio industry observers believe that young people simply aren’t interested in making radio their avocation. So you might be surprised to learn just how many students and Millennials are excited about making broadcasting a career choice.
BCBC was created to connect high school and college students in Michigan with industry veterans. The goal of the event was to provide guidance and industry perspective to these fledgling broadcasters. Like “speed dating,” it was a chance for attendees to have some face time with a wide range of professionals. And it was a chance for those of us who have worked in broadcasting for decades to witness a group of smart, motivated young people.
The mentors who gave up their time for BCBC came from all areas of the business. There were CEOs and general managers, but there were also program directors like WCSX’s Jerry Tarrants and WRIF’s afternoon personality, Meltdown. There were webmasters, interactive managers, GSMs, and TV news directors. Attendees were exposed to the full spectrum of expertise.
But BCBC wasn’t about us mentors – it was about the amazing group of energized young adults who paid money to come to Lansing on a cold Friday to meet with us. All told, there were 46 mentors, but more than three times as many students that came to talk to us from colleges, technical schools, high schools, and even a few who had just started their careers. They were inquisitive and totally excited about their career choice. They asked us great questions, blew us away with their wisdom, and impressed us with their enthusiasm. I know I’m speaking for many of the other mentors that BCBC was as educational for us as it was for them.
Kudos to the MAB for hosting this event, and we hope that other state broadcasting associations plan similar get-togethers in their regions. BCBC sends a message that while broadcasting careers still have great value, the radio business will have to work harder and invest more time and resources to stay on the Gen Z and Millennial radar screen. When I was in college and was considering a media career, I was limited to radio, TV, or print. Today, broadcasting is one career option inside a long menu that has everything from Pandora, Slacker, Google, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo, and many others. And those are just the main courses.
BCBC is a reminder that we have to put on our salesperson’s hat and reach out. Radio companies should make a commitment to sponsor and support area high school radio stations, as well as events like this.
Dedicating an HD2 channel or even an overnight show to high school or college broadcasting students is an easy investment worth making. Broadcasters should get more involved with their State Broadcaster Associations and encourage their leaders to make investments in future employees a priority. And as individuals, we should seek out area broadcast programs and offer to help, speak at classes, offer tours to the students, and help make the industry the exciting career that it is.
As we move into Thanksgiving, it is a great time of year to assess the things that are of value to us in our personal lives as well as our professional endeavors. For many of us, this is a great time to give thanks to radio broadcasting – the joy, success, and honor that we derive from our career path.
To ensure that radio continues to produce the next generation of motivated professionals, we’re going to have to work harder to keep the industry on course, and to make it exciting and desirable for our kids – and theirs.
Otherwise, we're just playing games.
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