Do you suffer from long-term memory loss?

We live and work in a business that goes through more change than a toll booth operator.  Unfortunately, we don’t always have our quarters ready.

If you’re in radio, you should always be ready to move.  Losing your job is a fact of our business.  It doesn’t matter how good you are, you are destined to move on.  It’s the nature of this beast.

Why?  There are a thousand reasons.  Maybe you get complacent.  Maybe you start to slip.  Maybe another station signs on in your market and cuts into your audience.  Maybe you get a bad drop.  Maybe a new GM comes in and wants to hire his former PD.  Maybe the popular morning personality hates you.  Maybe your station is sold.

If none of these situations arise, there’s always “philosophical differences.”  That’s a joke.  There is no philosophy in radio with which to disagree.

However, getting fired isn’t the subject of this Editorial.  This is about what happens after you get fired.  Or more accurately, what actions you take when another gets fired.

Do you suffer from short-term memory loss?

The relationships between PDs and those doing record promotion are nervous at best.  Those relationships must be built on mutual trust.  It takes time.  And it takes consistency.

Do relationships really matter in today’s over-researched world of programming and promotion?  Of course.  Those who think differently have no relationships.

Can a relationship stop a hit record?  No.  Can relationships make a stiff become a hit?  Of course not.  But there are hundreds of records vying for spots each month…records that are unproven.  And relationships can get those records played to find out if they are indeed hits.

Promotion people are paid to establish relationships with programmers so a record can get a shot.  I’ve written several Editorials about how to establish those relationships.  But one important factor seems to be the most overlooked…especially in today’s ever changing landscape.  What happens when the person with whom you’ve developed a relationship gets fired?

Do you suffer from long-term memory loss?

Too many times, you lose contact.  Not because you drift away, but because you stop doing your job.  You do nothing to continue the relationship.

The most important time to call a person, the time when you will make the biggest impression, the time to really cement a relationship…is when the other person is out of a job…or out of your specific format.

A promotion person who doesn’t keep in contact with a programmer after s/he loses a job is a poor example of a record executive.  Not only is this job failure, it’s stupid.

Where do you think these out-of-work programmers are going to wind up?  At the State Department?  Almost 99.99% will get another programming gig in radio.  And each will make you pay dearly because you “forgot” their phone number.  And out-of-work programmers aren’t fooled by that “one-time” phone call.  We’re talking about consistent, “how are you?” calls.  It won’t take much time and will come back in spades.

If, on the other hand, you get amnesia when one of your programmers gets fired, expect  s/he to develop the same malady once another job is landed.

It goes the other way as well. Programmers who depend on record people to supply them with all the freebies should keep in touch if the record person goes down in flames.  Otherwise, payback is a bitch.

Need examples?  How about all those who fawned over APD/MD Bruce St. James at KPWR Los Angeles?  Bruce goes to an Oldies station in San Diego and can’t get a phone call returned.  Guess what?  He’s back at KKFR Phoenix.

Do you suffer from short-term memory loss?

One of the very best in the business is Arista’s Richard Palmese.  When I was in radio, Richard and I weren’t particularly close, yet every time I got blown out (and believe me, it was a lot), one of the first (and last) calls I got was from Richard, inquiring as to whether there was anything he could do.

Are there any of you who have “lost” Steve Kingston’s number since he’s programming Howard Stern?  Is there anyone out there who believes Kingston won’t be programming a Top 40 station in the near future?

Ask Scott Shannon who he talked with today.  It’s those who called after he walked the plank at Pirate Radio in L.A.

What about those who forgot about Bill Richards when he left KIIS?  He’s only one of the largest consultants in the business now…and still not taking your calls.

How many of you called Rick Gillette when he was ousted in Detroit?  Did you really think he would work at Network 40 for the rest of his life?  (Okay, bad example.  He didn’t return my calls when he worked here!)

On the flip side, how many PDs lost contact with Peter Napoliello after EMI folded?  Now he’s running A&M with jobs to fill and promotions to give.

Bottom line:  If you want to be special in this business, you have to be special to those with whom you seek relationships.  Don’t forget about them when they’re between jobs…and that’s what it is…between.  Programmers are like roaches…they will be back.  Keeping in touch is good business…plus, it’s the right thing to do.

Do you suffer from short-term memory loss?

I can’t remember.

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