programing to win

Change is inevitable in radio, especially when it comes to personnel leaving your station. What do you do when a beloved air personality or market veteran leaves? Bob Quick examines how to handle such a situation in this week’s Programming To Win column.

Bob Quick

Bob Quick

By: Bob Quick, Quick Radio Consulting

It seems that since de-regulation there have been less and less students of our great industry’s history. Radio is the only true local medium, but its history is lost with the transient nature of our workforce.

I have known plenty of people that have survived in radio for decades. However, for most, their careers are broken up into short stays at a dozen or more cities across this great nation.

Think about the folks in the business you know. How many have 10 years at one station or cluster. How about 15 years? Even 20?

I personally have known two people that enjoyed their entire 35+ year careers at just one station. One in sales and one in programming. It does happen more often in sales or the back office support side of our industry. But there are a handful of talent that have had long careers, staying at just one station or in one market.

In those rare cases, those people have woven themselves into the fabric of not one, or two, but sometimes three and four generations of listeners in a market.

They are beloved members of the community they serve.

How do you deal with their departure from the station from budget cuts? Retirement? Even death?

Like anything else, planning will serve you well in these times of high emotion within and outside the building.

Funeral directors preach pre-planning arrangements for just this reason. All the hard decisions have already been made so that the family involved with the loss can just do one thing…grieve.

I know what you’re thinking, “Bob, I’m going to stop reading because you’re bumming me out.”
But hear me out.

If you’re lucky enough to be at a station with a long lasting talent, out of respect for them and their loyal listeners, you need to spend some time planning how the station will handle their departure.

TV does it all the time. Did you see the piece the Today show did on the passing of Abe Vigoda?

I was impressed today by how the Motor Racing Network and their satellite radio partner SiriusXM handled the passing of long time announcer Barney Hall. I’ve been a fan of the MRN product for decades and it makes a ton of sense for many markets. The dignity they showed today was top notch.

Mr. Hall had been a member of the MRN team since its inception in 1970 and a vital cog in their broadcasts until about a year and a half ago. The folks at the network knew Barney had some health issues and were ready when the time came to say goodbye. The NASCAR channel on SiriusXM spent most of the day talking to MRN announcers, the stars of their sport, as well as sharing their own memories of the man.

But what I was most impressed with was that they allowed the listeners to call in and be part of the grieving process by sharing their own stories and expressing their condolences. I couldn’t stop listening.

It doesn’t have to be death…a retirement, or worse, a budget cut can lead to the same situation. How you handle it will leave a legacy with your listeners. It’s a seminal moment in your market. One that you should plan for with just as much thought as a station launch or major promotion or event.

Bob Quick can help you station plan for market altering events. Call him today at 706-358-9103 to pre-plan or just to talk NASCAR.