Thursday, 8 July 2010

How long will you decide to stay in the industry ?

Firstly, many thanks to Paul Easton’s Facebook update for directing me to a small article on Media UK. It caught my eye because it was about why certain people in the radio industry choose to leave it to work in a completely different industry.

In the Commercial Production arm of radio, the exodus has been massive. Scriptwriters and producers have left in their droves to join radio stations in America, South Africa and Australia. Many have joined advertising agencies, have set up their own production companies, become voice artists or sadly decided to leave the industry altogether to become amongst other things Postmen, Landlords, TV Directors, Aeroplane Managers, Web Site Designers and even Vicars.

I had worked in Commercial Radio for about 13 years when I decided to leave to work for an independent production company. In the latter years of my time in radio, I had the feeling that I couldn’t actually go any further in Commercial Production. This was at the beginning of the period of the big station mergers. With the implementation of a new MD at my station, the attitude towards Com Prod changed. Like many stations, finance managers started wondering whether they actually needed a Commercial Production department. This was when I decided it was time to look elsewhere. Alan Bell (another highly-talented radio sales professional and creative person who left radio to set up Airforce and other companies) invited me to leave radio and work for Airforce.

A few years later, I acquired the company and luckily, monotony hasn’t loomed it’s ugly head and I still feel as excited as I was on my first day of joining Airforce.

In commercial radio however, I still hear stories from a few highly-talented individuals that they are not happy bunnies. Many join stations as Commercial Producers, but as time evolves and the stations go from owner to owner they are given tasks that have nothing to do with making great radio ads.

I am not saying we should mollycoddle Commercial Producers or indeed anyone else in the radio industry and give them the freedom to do anything they want. There has to be structure. But I wonder what radio would be like today if all those talented people who left to pursue other careers hadn’t left.

Would the girl who became a vicar be a major source of inspiration to a station’s
advertisers ?

Would the guy who became a TV Director be one of the most in-demand producers in the country ?

Would the man who became the Landlord be a great manager ?

Would the person who became the Aeroplane Manager be able to take his clients to new heights ?

Forgive me for the naff pun on the last one there. But I hope you get the point. The Commercial Production industry is losing too many great people to other professions.
I would love to talk to all those who have left and find out what it was that made them decide to leave. What was it that made them think “I want out” ?

Hunch tells me it would be one word: ‘Frustration.’ Commercial Producers are slightly different. Making radio ads isn’t enough. To keep a Commercial Producer happy, motivated and inspired it means feeding them with great briefs. And let’s face it, with the regular selling of radio advertising packages that provide clients with a bog-standard commercial as part of the deal, that is not going to encourage a Proddie to stick around for the long term.