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10 Most Frequent Questions Industry People Ask About the Future of Terrestrial Radio

Over the years there are certain question that I get asked repeatedly. I am Kevin Ross the founder and CEO of Digital and Radio Facts and here I will disclose the answers to the most popular questions that I have repeatedly been asked.

Besides Radio: How Do I Make Money Online?

  • As a general rule of thumb, have a base, PASSIVE income FIRST.
  • Know that there are limited FAST avenues to making money
  • If you are not passionate about your project above all else, you will fail miserably

I don’t do anything online OR off that doesn’t bring in a return and I would strongly suggest other communicators do the same. You have a worldwide audience and you are a specialist, why would you GIVE that away? There is a GREAT need for professional communicators online. A majority of the videos, Zooms and YouTube Channels get a TON of hits but lack professionalism and the ability to captivate and compel. They are everyday people acting like communicators and they are often severely lacking in concept.

With all the Zoom and IG Lives that are getting hundreds of thousands of views, it is INSANE to me that these people are not using monetized platforms instead of generating branding and income for outside companies. Even when I look at The Breakfast Club videos that we run on the site, I see banner ads and ad mentions, ironically, I don’t see them on other syndicated show videos and I know that income probably goes to iHeart and it can really add up. I know people making $50,000 a month on YouTube. Google products offer benefit most social media platforms don’t … affiliate passive income. Mark my words at some time in the near future, social media platforms are going to start charging people who big accounts and operate in tier memberships. They would be stupid not to.

Google products pay you and everybody else wants you to pay THEM. I like using Adsense on my blogs because it generates a hefty daily revenue but keep in mind the site is 12 years old and it took me a minute to learn how to benefit from it. I’m always trying to improve on that but the online experience gives WAY too many opportunities to generate passive income as a base in comparison to simply giving your skills away and hoping you get sponsors or get noticed at a later date. It’s way too competitive and only room for so many people at the top.

Most communicators post on social media and get thousands of shares and likes etc, that can’t generate affiliate revenue on social media because FB and IG don’t allow it but you can slip in sponsor ads after you put in all the work even though they may hault you or severely limit your reach if you are not paying them. This is why it’s so important to develop your OWN platform via a blog, video channel or app. I see some of the most amazing writers and content given away to FB and IG everyday instead of using that content as an affiliate revenue generator on your own platform. It’s a bit more detailed than that and I will explain more in the near future.

Apps, depending on what you are offering, are another good way to generate revenue but they are not cheap. You are going to spend at least $3000 to $60k to get it done but many more people use apps and their mobil phones worldwide than desktops and you can create passive income streams with an app including AdSense. (I like Adsense, can you tell?)

Blogging on Social Media Sites?

Social Media can generate revenue like The Shade Room does but I still think a blog is better because you have Adsense and MANY affiliate opportunities on your blog as well as a way to generate email addresses vs subscribers. If you don’t have email addresses you are not in control if you got booted off of the big social media platforms. In addition, when you do social media sites you have to consistently be on top of all the news DAY AND NIGHT which will WEAR you out and you have to solicit advertisers. My theory is get the passive income FIRST so that you can AT LEAST buy a roll of toilet paper, then everything else is gravy.

YouTube Channel ?

It’s getting a bit more challenging to fully develop a Youtube channel as you literally now have to have a production set-up but if you have unique and compelling content this can be a HUGE money maker. You have to have something like 4000 views and about 1000 subscribers at last check to start to monetize via AdSense but I know people who have a YouTube channel making enough money to live in gated communities in Los Angeles. Keep in mind you have to be prepared to build and be consistent and compelling. It’s gonna take about a year of producing quality and informative videos weekly and marketing in each one to get people to subscribe to start making some real money but you can also solicit advertisers while you build your channel.

What is the Future of Radio?

It will survive but it will certainly snuggle. Changes are imminent in order to compete and maintain relevance. I get a lot of press releases from radio advertising companies about how radio is still the number one source for music lovers and for news and I find that hard to believe and they would be hard-pressed to convince savvy advertising agencies and brands of that when point and click access online or on cell phones and tablets is so much more appealing to brands who want less expensive and more direct to consumer data specifics.

Without question, Radio is still a powerful entity especially in cars because it’s free but heavy commercial loads and a lot of of banter between songs can be annoying, especially when you can pay to eliminate that or simply use your Bluetooth and listen to your own music or audiobooks in your car. You can do your own survey and ask your kids or nieces and nephews who are under 30 if they listen to the radio. The ones that I ask in my surroundings say no, they don’t. Markets like Atlanta for Black radio will do well because there are so many kinds of black people there and it’s an Black music capital that needs the exposure and radio is the best bet for local new music but even that is being challenged as the competition is so deep that everybody is fighting or a small piece of the pie.

Commercial Radio is an industry that is shifting and in dire need of change … or else. I can look on Google and analyze keywords and trends and tell you that radio has left a LOT of money and appeal on the table over the years from podcasts to audiobooks to streaming and being slow on trends and many corporations (except iHeart) were/are still late on board and they are paying for it now with the COVID outbreak as layoffs and furloughs indicate. Public radio like NPR has become incredibly innovative and much more interesting and appealing over the years to older demos. The jocks are often professional journalists or hardcore music fans and there is a huge difference in the delivery and the content in comparison to commercial radio.

I was listening to the other day and they are even doing plays on the radio with current celebrities. Radio is not dead but it’s in dire need a transplant. If I were a jock working for any of the corporations today, I’d have multiple side hustles going as a job is not promised AND I would be a consistent student of all broadcast formats for developing trends in the industry. If I were a radio corporation with a ton of overhead, I’d be looking at the current COVID situation as a blessing, of sorts, because I get to see how well people work from home and I can re-evaluate expensive brick and mortar operations. Commercial real estate is outrageously expensive and it’s going to plummet this year when MANY corporations downsize wasted office space. This is certainly one way radio corporations can save a TON of money.

Should I look for a Job or Stay Where I Am

Always be looking. Reinventing yourself is always the best strategy for longevity and stagnation is the best strategy for failure. “Radio is not a Recliner it’s a Springboard” is my saying and I will keep saying it because it’s true. Radio is the root to the plant but it’s not the tree, not for many. There are only going to be one or two Breakfast Club radio shows and time is your greatest asset, set a goal for each situation, a year or two, to move up and ALWAYS keep your eyes open for greater opportunities. The best time to find a job is ALWAYS when ou are already working.

Why are PDs so old and When is My Time Gonna Come?

That’s a good question and I don’t have a good answer for you because I don’t really know what the radio corporate strategy is but I will tell you that the Napster controversy, consolidation, and syndication has played a big role in keeping things simple and safe.

Relationships mean everything in our business and those three aforementioned things have kept a lot of new management in radio as slim pickings. I was reading an article by a group of jocks in their 20s and 30s who were recently fired from a corporation and they said “Radio is not what it used to be” that’s when I realized that today’s on-air personality/communicator is a fool if they don’t have their hands in many opportunistic cookie jars. People in their 50s and 60s say things like “Radio ain’t what it used to be” and translated they are really saying ‘Radio is done with my old ass and I’m terrified, I don’t have a plan B.’ Be in front of the 8-ball CREATE opportunities instead of waiting for them.

How do I Get a Syndicated Show?

Everyone who has ever asked me that question is bringing nothing new to the table. What are you doing that makes you different or interesting to the audience that other shows are not doing?

Syndicators are NOT looking for what they already have, they are looking to fill holes in the industry. Name and tenure mean very little in today’s industry when it comes to “ability” and “influence.” As a matter of fact, tenure can actually HURT you in today’s industry as saying “I’ve been doing this for 40 years” to Millenials and GenZers will get you called “OG” or “OMFGOG” So just because you have legacy doesn’t mean you have anything to say or that you are owed anything. Shave 10 or 15 years off your tenure from now on, I do.

How can I increase my income?

Pretty simple. Make YOURSELF more valuable and stop waiting for opportunities that may never come, create them. Know that you gain by addition not subtraction THEN addition. If you wait until you get fired your leverage is fired too and you will make lateral moves instead of progressive ones.

How Can I Maximize My Potential at the Station I’m at?

By planning an exit strategy (lol). Seriously, if you are really good at what you do and you are consistently on the hustle, your energy and presence will indicate that you are going places. Don’t stagnate or leave your fate in ANYBODY’s hands. Don’t want for the station to see you, YOU see you!!! Trust me, there are thousands of people before you who made that mistake of waiting and they are sitting in front of the TV watching reruns of Sandford and Son with a spit cup and a warm bowl of peaches instead of traveling the world and/or relaxing in their home that has been paid for and keeping themselves busy with other projects. Retirement in our industry equals death. FORCED retirement equals and slow, miserable and painful death.

How Do I Avoid Getting Layed Off?

Side Hustles. Make it a win/win/win situation. I always operate in triple wins, a win for my brand, a win for the client and a win for the audience. If any of the three is missing the mark, it’s not a good deal for me.

Make yourself more valuable to the station and at the same time to your career. People are not going to like this next sentence so sit down for it …. volunteer to do extra work in areas of the station that you are curious about. See, you are cussin’ me out before I finish. I know that you don’t like that but the benefit is … nobody else does either which means you can set yourself apart and make it a win/win/win for the station AND to educate yourself AND for your future (triple win). I did it 30 years ago at Urban Network. I knew I was not going to last there and I didn’t want to. There was all the infighting amongst the black management and I remember telling myself, you MFs don’t even own this sh! Why are you killing each other over it? So while they were fighting and slamming doors, I started learning how to do a magazine even working during weekends. It, obviously, paid off

Why Isn’t My PD Noticing my Efforts?

Stop focusing on your PD noticing you and start noticing outside opportunities that are ABOVE what you are currently doing. STOP MAKING LATERAL MOVES AND USE YOUR LEVERAGE TO GET PROMOTED TO A HIGHER POSITION AT YOUR NEXT GIG in radio. Never apply for the next job DOING what you are already doing. ALWAYS improve on the position and GROW. I know people in the industry who have had the same job for 40 years. At what point do you grow?

What’s Next ?

Trusting your instinct and creating opportunities outside the station (have I stressed that enough during this story?). Look at your situaton right now, if the station fires you today do you have any affiliation with station clients or your own hustels that you can depend on financially? If not you’re on the wrong track waiting for the train to run you over.

You can do it. Do It!!!

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Chris Bryan May 15, 2020 at 2:46 pm

Scary to read the comments and information submitted from Kevin Ross. Not sure it’s totally correct? As a 50 year radio vet, there’s many comments I could shoot holes through. I appreciate his views, but for someone new to the industry, get a second opinion.

Chris Bryan
Director of Programming and News Operations
CBS Pensacola

Radio Facts May 15, 2020 at 6:09 pm

That’s the problem, at some point we lose touch. 50 years is a long time, almost as old as I am but the industry doesn’t give a shit about tenure, it cares about current value and effectiveness. It’s rapidly changing and I’m glad it is. BTW I’m not new to the industry.


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