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Fred Jacobs is President of Jacobs Media, a media research and consulting firm. Jacobs Media clients have included CBS Radio, Premiere Radio Networks, Citadel, Greater Media, MTV Networks, Playboy, Amazon, Electronic Arts, NPR, Sylvan Learning Centers, and Taubman Malls. Learn more about the company here.


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August 2011

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Tom Webster

Fred, the talent issue is, in my opinion, the most serious obstacle radio faces in the next ten years--not satellite, iPods or internet radio. These competing technologies alone will not damage radio--it's the talent that those competing companies are luring away that will plague radio for years to come. There just isn't enough innovation in the industry to keep up with competitive media channels AND a loss of talent. Content and technology are not the problems, they are symptoms of an HR disease.

When I got my college degree back in Boston years ago, I had a choice--I could go to graduate school, join some of my friends at the (then) Big 7's of the world (Arthur Andersen, Price Waterhouse, etc.) or...I could get Matty in the Morning's coffee for two years in the hopes of landing an overnight spot on Kiss 108. I chose grad school, though (oddly enough) I would find myself working with Matty at Pyramid later in life. Radio needs to find a more compelling on-ramp, a more attractive entry point into the business than "music intern." The type of person who is attracted to that position may or may not become the next Tom Poleman or Jim Ryan, but until Radio finds a way to recruit great young talent out of college and business schools, we will continue to field a non-competitive team.

With consolidation and automation, many of the spots the industry used to have open for its "farm team" (overnights, for example) are now gone, giving stations a smaller talent pool in which to fish, and the talent pool was thin to begin with. HD Radio solves the wrong problem. Fix the HR problem, and radio will survive and even thrive in the coming years. If station A outpromotes Station B, blame Station B's PD or marketing director. But if TSL declines in the whole market, we need to look a little higher north on the org chart.

Fred Jacobs

Tom, you are so right. And many companies/stations are still living back in the day when supply totally eclipsed demand. Broadcasters continue to be surprised about how few quality contenders are going after traditionally great jobs. It IS an HR problem.

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