There was a time a few years back when it was a true privilege to be able to "crack a mic." I still believe that it is. This industry was hard to get into. Stations ran fast and furious and clothed entire families with their logo t-shirts. We broke the artists we wanted and shelved the ones we didn't. As an industry, we were on fire. The cool thing about radio was the fact that everyday people could talk to who ever was on the air. One phone call to request a song or to weigh in on a discussion and you became part of it. Something that is hard to do with television. Radio is show business. The stuff between the records, the events, and the fact that we are the link between the everyday person and the stars. It's a cool job and I get excited talking about it still.
People rarely get to see the people behind the music and the microphones. On the record side, the people who "push spins," constantly travel. They take calls day and night. They are always feeling like they are in the middle of a closing vice because the industry needs the next hit. They get pulled in a thousand different directions and sometimes are greeted with "what can you do for me now," instead of "thank you."
When the microphone gets shut off it's a different story. We all work more than 4 hours a day and our job does tend to become out lives. People believe that we make a million dollars a year when in fact, most are grossly underpaid. Some of us have lived in 5 cities in four years and others are "lifers" in the same place.
There are those of us who are paid substantial amounts of money to literally read from a piece of paper and then there are those who sweat it out for next to nothing for the love of the game.
In 2008 the radio industry really started cutting back. Fewer people and lots of job loss. Nearly every company is guilty of it. Many do not realize that radio is a advertising business. People hate commercials, but if we don't sell enough then we don't make money. Simple formula. Radio companies made massive cuts a few years ago and they have continued. The record industry has suffered for awhile as well. Napster didn't revolutionize the industry. It mostly hurt it. I-tunes is doing the same thing. People somehow developed this attitude that music should be free or close to it. We don't buy Cd's anymore. We download songs. The record industry to is shrinking. Leaving both sides with one dreadful thing in common. Fear. We all work realizing that it could all go away at anytime. That is the reality.
We have the honor of being let into people's everyday lives. We are ,if nothing else, disposable. It's hard for people to see what our world is like. There are plenty of haters. People who either used to work in the industry or those who never got the chance. We are sometimes told that we suck. There are always those who don't mind letting us know that they could do better. They tell us we aren't as good as the person we replaced. In some cases they are right, but it doesn't mean that we don't try to win them over day after day even if it is an exercise in futility.People think they know us because they hear our opinions, but the truth is they do not. They don't see the long hours and the difficulty that some of us face. They don't realize the fear that looms of job loss that we all face. The radio is now sounding different all the time and it's not because of the music.
It sucks that the world is the way that it is. People say that the radio DJ is a dying breed and I couldn't disagree more. The industry is changing, but not dying. There is Internet and satellite, but when most of us get in the car we listen. We listen to a group of individuals who truly love what they do. Strip away the fear, glamour, and change and you will find love. There are those of us who knew they wanted this when they were kids and others like myself who found it while looking for a path to walk. It is truly something that gets inside and doesn't. We have no "off season," and the best of us continue to provide new content daily without the benefit of writers.
We develop a connection with people from all walks of life. We are granted the power to influence their opinions,lifestyle purchases, relationships, and what they might be eating for lunch. We come together to help those in need and we also simply just tell you what the song you just heard was. I wish that there were more like us. A group of people who truly love what they do. It is a job that is not easy to walk away from. It is not always glamorous. We are not all rich. Rude comments can sting. We are believers that our industry will see good times again. Whether by age, boredom, corporate decision, or personal choice we will eventually turn the mic off for good. All of us will remember the lives we touched along rhe ride. This is the greatest job in the world. We get to talk and are privileged that you take the time to listen.