Tuesday, October 18, 2011

'Men Of A Certain Age' Still ROCK.

Consolidation, force reduction, budget cuts, contraction.  Call it what you like but the talent squeeze has been on for years in radio and one group seems to be fading faster than any:  over-50 Programmers and Personalities.  Two years ago at the NAB in Philadelphia, Edison Media's Larry Rosin, who has piloted their "30 Under 30" talent search, observed, "we are fast becoming an industry of old men".


There's no doubt that quite a few in the Over-50 Club are being left behind.  Some of it can be justified:  the vets who cling helplessly to 'back-in-the-day', wishing all radio was still live in the studio, answering the hitline for four or five hours a shift.  Refusal to embrace voicetracking, multi-tasking (no more 'four-and-hit-the-door') and social media.  I can't argue with some of that, having seen it first-hand.  Technology is moving at a continually rapid pace and, for some, keeping up just isn't in the cards.

Yet, even Larry Rosin believes, as I, that this fraternity still has a lot to offer our industry. There are many highly experienced radio veterans who are focused on where radio and media are headed vs. the obsession with where we've been. They understand great content comes on a variety of delivery platforms and are eager to be part of it.  We've all heard something like, "fifty is the new forty" and, for those who are forward-looking and embracing the cutting edge, I believe there's some truth to it, especially with entertainers (radio Programmers and Personalities).

If you're in this Over-50 Club, you know far too well how difficult it's been to get noticed and hired the past several years.  Common perceptions range from, "they'll want too much money" to "they're over-the-hill" and "we have to have youthful energy".  Some of these stereotypes are not only inaccurate but terribly short-sighted and unfair for a great many of the most seasoned in our industry.  Here are a few reasons you (doing the hiring) can actually help yourselves by giving serious consideration to passionate, engaged, forward-thinking members of that Over-50 Club:

CRITICAL THINKING/PROBLEM SOLVING:  If you've been in the business for 25-30+ years, there's little you haven't seen and had to deal with.  Great decision-making skills and discernment cannot be underestimated.  Successful radio vets understand teamwork, professional conduct and how to turn potential disasters around with positive solutions.  They know how to handle themselves in critical situations, how to protect the license and how to develop relationships with sellers and clients.  They are pros. 

IDEA MACHINE:  It's been said there are no new ideas, just new twists on old ideas and that often rings true.  Accomplished industry veterans have not only done just about every crazy, successful promotion and contest ever created, many understand how great today's digital tools are at making them even more effective and enthusiastically embrace all the advantages at our disposal (that didn't exist just 10-15 years ago).

MENTOR/TALENT DEVELOPMENT: I can't tell you how often I've heard something like, "wow, the talent pool in radio is worse than ever!" and I just don't buy that.  I do believe some who had the blessing of being taught by great mentors and leaders have failed to 'pay it forward' to recent and current generations of talent but many have and they understand the privilege and the obligation to groom up-and-coming talent as they were so fortunate to have in their formative days of broadcasting.

BEEN THERE-DONE THAT:  Seasoned, successful radio pros know how to take care of business, how to get things done, to cut through the nonsense...how to make things happen.  Few are Rhodes Scholars but most are incredibly skilled when it comes to the nuts & bolts of making great radio (delivery platform notwithstanding).  They understand what makes relevant, compelling and entertaining content.  They know how to interact with their audience (and, now, embrace social media to be more effective than ever).  They come from a period (because most began at smaller or mid-market stations) where relationships were everything.  They get it.

Please don't view this post as me shilling for on-the-beach buddies and long-time radio guys who can't seem to find work in our continually-evolving industry...some are indeed 'over it', ready to move on and they probably should find something new to get excited about.  It's not exactly like ownership has been making all the right decisions or has great vision about where things are headed, so some of their skepticism is valid.  But, there are still owners, operators and market managers who can make their jobs one helluva lot easier and a ton more successful by at least giving serious consideration to those in this Over-50 Club.  You might be surprised at the passion and quality you can add to your team...today.

As always, we'd all love to hear your thoughts and perspectives in the Comments section below.

Thanks & KEEP ROCKIN'!

502.222.3600, 502.310.9474


  1. Well said...when it's posted, I'll be sure to forward!

  2. JJ, it's not just radio (as I'm sure you know) and it's not just over 50 either. It's over 40 as well. I have been in IT almost as long as you've been in radio (over 25 years) and was downsized by the same company that I worked at for 20 YEARS (along with several other middle-aged women who'd been there forever but that's another story). So I get all the latest certifications that the IT people want (certs are better than degrees in this field) and have a DoD Secret clearance and I am stuck in a call center where all the managers were born in the 1980s. I recently tested the waters to find something less inane and after a great interview where the 30YO guy tells me that just by looking at my resume he knows I can do the job easily and would love to have me and all my experience and for all of that he can pay me $13/hr. I already am making just over half of what I made at my last job and this guy wants me to take another pay cut? I'm only 47 so does this mean I've got 20 more years of this? It does seem that all the good work ethic attributes that you write about don't mean a thing in today's work environment and that is really a shame.

  3. He digs deep into his pockets and comes up with his two cents worth:

    We old radio fossils, leftovers from the days of real music, still ply the airwaves in spite of the emergence of the new "Shock Jocks" that seem to captivate the youth of the day. More than a few of us are holdovers who now lovingly embrace the words to 'WOLD' or 'Guitar Man' with a new symbolism.

    Yes, I've been one of the chronologically challenged who found himself made redundant because he no longer fit the youthful ethos of the operation. One just smiles, packs up his carton of memorabilia and moves on to a higher plain of existence.

    I for one, care not to cry in my beer and reminisce about "The Good Old Days". I prefer to make my own niche markets, keep playing the tunes and keep answering the request line. I prefer to regard myself and my kind as the keepers of the music, the sages of the oldies, as there are very few of the new age DJ's who even know of Albert King, Robert Plant, Smokey Robinson or others who actually wrote understandable lyrics.

    Yes, the repetitive +20db Bass lines have their place in the aerobics gyms, but good Rock, Soul, Jazz & Blues and the people who spin it will prevail, whether it be via the Internet, Digital Radio or that semi-antique FM. I'll keep playing the good stuff to my Baby Boomer audience, while they quaff that $25 Merlot and scarf down that boutique cheese at one of the local wineries.

    All you need to do is find a Station Manager who has the foresight to know the Baby Boomer Market is a viable and still emerging entity. There are a lot of us out there and there's still many a market for us old radio fossils.

    My parting sage advice? For what it might be worth to a few, "Follow the Gray Nomads"..