Sunday, January 30, 2011


It's amazing how the radio industry has come full-circle in some ways. Take working for a "Mom and Pop" radio company.

I can remember many years ago, working for a mom and pop radio station. In fact, the first three stations I worked for in my career were all single-owner radio stations. And oh, how we'd all sit around and talk about how much we wished for the opportunity to work for "the big guys;" a "real" radio "company!"

"Yeah, those guys have everything!"

"If only we could leave this little dumpy station and work in a real building, with big money and a fleet of vehicles!"

The cliché you don't know what you have 'til it's gone couldn't have been more true in this case.

Many of us did indeed get to the big leagues. Don't get me wrong, I owe a TON to "corporate" radio. It was an awesome ride and I was given some incredible opportunities to do some amazing things, that probably wouldn't have happened without being part of the big company I worked for.

But here we are in 2011. The tide has turned. And how ironic is it, that so many people working for "the big boys," would today give their left nut to be back at a mom and pop? A place where a PD can actually make decisions, coach talent, pick music and not have to run three different stations. You know, actually "do" radio, instead of just being the guy whose only real decision-making power means writing up the weekend schedule of voice trackers. Where a jock can be a personality (remember those?) and form relationships with listeners; not just promote a website in the form of 10 second talk breaks.

Yup, times have changed. Today the happiest PDs I know work for mom and pops.

I'll leave you with this quote--an actual statement made by my best friend while giving his resignation at a major radio company. He had worked at said company for two years.

GM: "Well aren't you gonna miss radio, Joel?"

PD: "Sir, I've missed radio for the past two years."



  1. Well said. I got into radio right before Clinton's Telecommunications act changed the game. It was the end of an era, only I didn't realize it. By 2001 I was out, and corporate radio is why. I miss radio, but don't regret leaving it.

  2. Great post. I don't work for a one-station company, but I do work for an independent operator that owns 13 stations in four markets. However, in my market we are a stand-alone. We have a ton of fun, and get away with things we never could if we were part of some major lawyered-up corporation.

    I love it!

  3. Most stations start out as mom and pops, then get bought and sold, bought and sold. The economic ineptitude of corps that paid too much for stations has caused the pyramid to collapse. Don't worry, a lot of stations could go back to mom and pops when they're sold at auction.

  4. My first station was a tiny little dump in the cornfields in Iowa. The PD was awesome, the morning guy worked three different jobs on top of hosting his show, and we were all happy. We were able to do the radio we wanted and it worked! We even had a cat that we used to have to kick off of the control board to turn on the microphones (I think he liked sleeping there because it was warm).

  5. Chris, funny you say that! I don't have a cat, but recently I had to take my mom's cat in while she left town for a few weeks. The cat's ABSOLUTE favorite place to nap was on my Wheatstone board! I didn't mind when I wasn't doing my show, but when I was live...yeah, it was inconvenienent to say the least. They really do step on all the buttons! The cat turned off my audio a few times (was she giving me a hint about my programming?)

  6. What a great quote to end the post. Oh man, do I miss those days. Similar things could probably be said for many other industries, but few industries draw such talented, dedicated, and creative people.

  7. R Dub... radio is in a sad state of affairs cause we aren't doing a show together;-) Radio took the "Less is More" concept way too far even into areas it wasn't meant to be taken into... even to wiping out people and salaries... they are getting what they pay for now... which is nothing, sadly it's the listeners who suffer the most from this... Less song selection, less good songs, less passion, less personality, less attention to detail, less effort, less people = less radio KLES = We strive for Less

  8. My first station was mom & pop before the corporate giant got us. I was blessed for the opportunity to remain onboard. Fortunately, our new PD was a good guy that also used to work for the same mom & pop and we used to share stories about the tight old man owner. Lol. But man, those were some good ol days. RIP Victor Diaz! Viva Califormula Broadcasting!

  9. Dub, it's so true. I remember how much fun we had at Hot 98 and power 97. Yes, we dreamed of corporate radio, and yes, we got it and it was tons of fun with great opportunities. Now, i only wish mom and pops were back. We never imagined that corporate would turn radio into the sink hole it has become. Will it ever change? Will it ever come back to basics? Will it ever hire real talent Vs the van guy who's been there a few months, now doing mornings?

    I only hope that someone in the higher rankings will grab everyone by the balls and bring back real radio, you know, the one that served listeners, created huge promotions and made it worth every dollar for the advertisers?! Time will tell.

  10. Radio for 25 years..and I think Dub hit it rite on point!! Todays radio..with the BIG BOYS is like pretending that your really doing something but all your trully doing is babysitting..I am in radio..And I dont like to listen to radio..WHAT DOES THAT MEAN!! I rember when I worked when radio was fun and exciting..Listen to the station I worked for on my way to work..laughing and have'n fun with the show..the count down, street party,or having a in studio jam session with an artist..Today its all tracked and has no heart!!
    ITS PRETEND RADIO!! I am very lucky to be able to still do a show live every day..STILL! But there are some many great and talented jocks out of work and THAT IS TRULLY SAD AND HEARTBREAKING!!!

  11. The beginning of the end was with the Reagan appointed FCC of 1985 that repealed the 7-7-7 ownership rule. That changed radio from a passion to a business. I know my dad is still rolling over in his grave from the damage done to his dream.... Here's a link for a taste of the politics that ruined our art..the important stuff starts on page 39 and continues on page 53: More

  12. A quote comes to mind: "The memory of you is better than you." My memories of radio are far better than the state of the industry today. I can't wait for the day that radio returns to local operators who employ local programmers and talent to serve their communities.

  13. My very first radio station was working for Clear Channel back in '88 !! It was in a medium market. I was producing a night show right out of HS. I had NO idea about corporate vs little guys, etc. Doing the night show, I didn't see much of the corporate mentality until I moved up a little in the company & got to be around "daytime people". Even then, there was an overall feeling of despair. People grumbled about not being paid well, and not knowing if they'll have their jobs due to cuts, etc. and this was BACK in '88-89!! Then I moved to a privately owned company in TX & had a blast! I still wasn't making much, but I had the time of my life there in that smaller market in the gulf of TX. People still wanted more coin, as they always do, but NONE were ever concerned about their job security. That was in the early 90s. The only thing that people THERE were always wondering is who would get to move up to larger markets like Houston or San Antonio.. But yeah it was MUCH more fun then.