"Being young and talented isn't good enough"
Millennial's behind the microphone are questioning if radio is still relevant to their peers in the modern media landscape. With so many content avenues for consumption, the challenge to become a young commercially viable radio broadcast professional is difficult to say the least, it often seems like it may be easier to get a million views on YouTube before a Programme Manager responds to an e-mail. The flip-side (and the plus side for broadcasters for now) is that as much as on-line content is abundant, data isn’t. The #datamustfall movement is as real struggle for the youth, but an opportunity for young media makers. One must see past the question of current relevance as well as high data costs and become a creator, not only of content but also of individual destiny.
Being young and talented is not good enough. A career path isn’t built on age and the promise of potential. There are many skills and traits that need to be developed to be relevant and to build a career.
Relationship building and networking are an essential tool for career development. Social media has become the enemy of proper meaningful engagement with a real network of industry professionals. Yes, there is value in being connected on platforms to enhance knowledge and professional circles, but far too often young broadcasters see these platforms as an immediate plug-in to a broader network. This isn’t your Matric Class of 2015 that you poked, liked and stalked; this is a personal business relationship. Be personal and be business, MXM! Being in the right place at the right time has its benefits, but it is no good being in that situation if you are out of your depth. Understand that networking is both a lateral and vertical process. Know people higher up, and lower down in the value chain. Importantly developed ties with those next to you, people in your immediate environment. Don’t neglect your network of current colleagues, they may find themselves in a position to put your name forward if they are in a position to do so.
Create additional opportunities. Leverage your position on your campus or community station and explore other potential opportunities. There are several complementary skills that can be added while honing your radio broadcast skills. From DJ’ing, Youtubing, podcasting, eventing or MC’ing, explore other channels that might add value to your career. It is also important to understand that digital players are direct competition, they are standing in-line with you as you knock on the doors of commercial radio opportunity, be aware and be better than the person next to you.
Personal branding plays an important role in developing a career. Unless you stand out from the rest of your radio and digital colleagues, you are just one of many. What does your brand profile look like? Are you, email@example.com? What do people find when they look for you? Do they find pictures, a profile, content, audio, concepts and a streamlined digital footprint, or are you the but end of a yo-mamma joke?
Creativity wins every time. There is a wide variety of digital platforms where individuals can choose whatever kind of content they would like to consume, and radio is only one. Create and produce so that people want to consume, make your show an appointment and your postings provoking to read. Accept that this is a relationship with multiple content partners, be the one everyone wants.
Being on-air is a thirst trap. Yes, it looks good and is amazing when you get it right, the game needs to be longer than your on-air offering. Remember that the broadcast triangle holds a small vertex of on-air talent, the base of the structure is bigger with more opportunity. Find out what skills are needed at the apex, gather and develop these, you won’t be sorry.
If you are currently in the growth and development stage, enjoy every moment. The lows are learnings and the highs are steppingstones to further potential and opportunity. Never give up an opportunity to reflect and plan your next move. Always be willing and most importantly be ready for the challenges, don’t be challenged.