Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A "David" amongst the "Goliaths"

I feel like I've been on the 30-day DL!

It's been several weeks since I've posted more random thoughts and I can definitely blame it on my newly-reconstructed rotator cuff. (Hey, it hurt to type, ok?) But, now that I've entered a new and decidedly more adventurous level of rehabilitation, I can hunt-and-peck with much more dexterity. So. I'm back...with a vengeance.

People who aren't in the radio profession (and even a few who are) sometimes ask me, "Why do you move around so much?" And I generally reply (after I make a rather lackluster joke about owning stock in Penske), "I'm not sure. I guess it's the money."

When I jumped on-board the thrill-ride known as "radio", striving towards getting to a bigger market was high on the priority list. Unless you were either dead-set against moving anywhere, or you had already secured a good gig at your hometown station, getting to a larger market was a necessity. A badge of honor. "Bigger" meant "better". Anyone who secured a position with a new station out-of-town often prompted the question,. "What market size is it"? Heck, professional market-jumpers like me already had all the market-sizes memorized. I knew what number sat next to Denver, Portland, or Chattanooga, Tennessee. Are you kidding?

The rude awakening that led to me gaining a better understanding of the illusion that is "market-size" occurred when I left overnights at WONE in Akron, Ohio to do PM Drive in Washington, DC. I did very little research. All I know is that some program director with a cool Australian accent was hiring ME to do Afternoon Drive in market number seven. SEVEN!! I was "Top-Ten-Bound-Matty", so my wife and I put our house up for sale in the Rubber Capital of the World and set-sail for the Nation's Capital.

We lasted 4 months.

"Research" would have told me that the normal cost of a 2-bedroom apartment was $1000.00-a-month. (BIG money for 1993) You're saying, "Hey, a grand-a-month in DC is not bad." No, it's not. But we were living in Manassas, Virgina. "Research" would have also told me that the commute time in Beltway traffic from Manassas to Rockville, Maryland is, oh, about, 3 weeks! And "research" would have revealed that not every on-air personality in Washington is making the kind of money that Jack Diamond makes. So, to avoid starvation, I marched into Craig Ashwood's office (that guy with the Aussie accent, one of the best on-air mentors I've ever had) and announced, with tail-between-legs, that I was scurrying back to the Buckeye state. You can imagine the laugh that our neighbors in Akron enjoyed.

I've learned alot since then. I've also made several more moves since my maiden voyage into Top-10-Land, including another stay in DC. Each of those moves has taught me one important lesson: there's good and bad radio EVERYWHERE. "Bigger" doesn't always mean "better". Look at Norfolk, Nebraska.

Yep, I had to look on a map, too. And as the "station voice", I had to get coached on how to properly pronounce the name of their city. (different than the other city in Virginia) But this station, KNEN-FM, has, as my sister likes to say, "got it goin on"! OM Brian Masters and PD Mookie write some of the most clever copy I've ever had the pleasure of reading. I also love hearing the produced elements that they occasionally send to me. Sure, they're involved in a good deal of charity events and sponsored shows, and some of the references to the agricultural activity in the area were new to me. But I'm all about their wall-to-wall coverage of Big Red football! Call me crazy, you fellow market-jumpers, but I'd put this station up against any station.

Yep, the landscape, for a multitude of reasons, has changed dramatically. But it's really refreshing to see some of the small guys succeed amongst the bigger players in larger markets. Of course, as a weary radio traveler, I'm open to being involved with any size market, now that I'm an entrepreneur. But it sure is to fun to perform fun copy!

It feels even better, too, when one's shoulder doesn't elicit loud screams of agony. It makes my dog happy, too, I can tell you that.


* Why not grab your favorite beverage, cop a squat, and groove to some DEMOS at www.mattmultimedia.com

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