Would an NFL coach move the kicker to the QB slot just to save a few bucks? Nope. So why would someone be asked to program or sell a format they have no experience with, just to add some dollars to the bottom line?
If someone wants to be a professional basketball player, they’ll need to spend a lot of time practicing their shot and moves, learning the winning strategies, and they’ll have to study their competitors to know what to expect. You can’t just become a great basketball player without knowledge and experience. Natural ability and all, even LeBron James likely surpassed the 10,000 threshold of pure practice before he was 20 years-old.
Now let’s turn our attention to radio.
It’s miscasting in broadcasting.
Let’s consider these sales scenarios.
1. It’s not uncommon to find sales staffs representing music products they know nothing about, or catering to a demo they’re totally unfamiliar with. If you believe that a good sales rep knows their product, a tough job becomes exponentially more difficult when you don’t know your format or your audience.
2. Many in sales are asked to provide digital solutions for clients, yet they themselves don’t understand how tech applications really work or how the audience even uses digital tools.
Let’s shift gears to programming.
1. There are PDs all across the country being asked to program additional formats they have no past experience with. That’s not to say that basic radio fundamentals aren’t the same across formats. But a lack of experience with a particular genre and audience is usually a deficit for even the best PDs.
2. DJs are voicetracking to cities they’ve never been to, and for formats they know nothing about. Even the best communicators struggle when they’re broadcasting to people and metros that are just blue pins on a map.
3. There are promotions and programming people doubling as webmasters, even though their skills are minimal. That’s not to say they can’t eventually get up to speed, but the learning curve is steep, and other media continue to provide more sophisticated web efforts over radio.
In tough times, everyone has to pitch in, learn new skills, and adapt to changing conditions. While those who have been laid off deserve some empathy, those who find themselves cast (or miscast) in different roles have severe challenges, too.
Radio may be able to get away with patchwork staffs for a while, but there’s a point reached where the lack of experienced players in key roles will take its toll on the product. Many stations are getting by on the fumes of brand-building that took place over the past decade or more. But that foundation will eventually erode when the lack of “10,000 hours” pros comes home to roost.