Pumpkin Spice Lattes Mean Just One Thing

The days are getting shorter. School buses are back on the road. Pumpkin spice lattes are returning to your local coffee house. All of this, of course, can mean only one thing: budget time is nearly here!

One of the toughest things about serially-tightened budgets is that many stations are looking for ways to reduce head counts in programming. And, of course, this is happening at the very same time that radio needs great talent more than ever. We’ve heard many PD’s complain especially about the challenges of finding strong new talent.

When many of us were getting started in radio, the entrance ramp to an on-air gig was pretty clear: get a weekend job at a not-so-large station. Lots of stations made this a little easier by having the newbie do an hour or two of a DJ show before running the block of taped public affairs shows on Sunday morning. From there, it was the same route as many other talent-related businesses: work hard, do good work and get promoted to something more prominent. Young DJ’s spent hours editing airchecks, hoping for the killer tape that would get them noticed by a PD in a larger market.

But, technology and tight budgets have knocked out many of those “entry-level” jobs on the air. While sharp cuts in programming departments have left lots of seasoned pros out there, hungry for a next gig, what if the mantra at your company is something akin to, “What are you doing differently?” Where could you look for talent and satisfy that requirement?

  • We’re aware of talented stand-up comics who found that trading 150+ nights on the road for a more-or-less “normal” job (even if it does require waking up in the middle of the night) was a good thing for their families.
  • Listen to the podcasts produced in your area, especially the ones dealing with topics and/or matter specific to your market.
  • You might consider developing a station-promoted podcast portal and find inducements – including the obvious promotional weight of a radio station – to get talent you feel could make the grade to affiliate with your station. With such a portal in place, you could, in effect, audition all sorts of people, looking for that perfect chemistry for your on-air signal.
  • Auditioning local actors can identify great talent for your station and requires only finding the websites local actors look at for jobs. There you’ll find people who dream of playing eight shows a week on Broadway for months at a time – same show, same role every time. It stands to reason that you should be able to direct them to deliver exactly the performance you want – every day.

Then it’s just a matter of waiting to see if your budget is approved by the time gingerbread lattes emerge, marking the countdown to the end of the year.