If you think that the newspaper and magazine industry are in trouble, terrestrial radio is hurting pretty badly too.
If you even bother to spin the radio dial while in your car or at home, you'll note a severe lack of voice talent, shows being repeated multiple times throughout the week and highly annoying (and long) commercial breaks. In order to adjust to the new realities, many radio stations are shifting formats, moving people around and doing anything and everything to save the media channel, which - in the end - is only making whatever listeners they have left even more confused. Media pundits proclaimed the death of radio years ago. Even the bigger names have moved on (Howard Stern went to satellite radio in 2004).
So, what's a Radio DJ to do?
For twenty years, Peter Anthony Holder had his own show on the Montreal talk radio airwaves. It's one of those shows that was around for so long, that you didn't pay that much attention to it (cause it was always there), but when it's gone, you realized that you probably should have paid more attention to it. Holder is a good guy (I had the pleasure of being a guest on his show a few times over the years). A little over a month after his sudden termination, he tells his story in a Blog posting titled, It Was Fun While It Lasted:
"People who do live radio do not and should not get a chance to say goodbye. With 50,000 watts of raw power on two radio stations beaming across all of eastern Canada, into three Border States and beyond, no broadcast outlet in their right mind would give a talk show host who is about to be shown the door a chance to vent their spleen. That would be tantamount to being let go from a major corporation in a major metropolitan area and right after they escort you to the curb of their shiny high rise at high noon, they hand you a bull horn.
As I said in the newspaper article (the link to which you can find above) broadcasters are like professional sports coaches - they are hired to be fired. And firing is all they can do. They can't kill you. About the only thing I've been surprised about, as this whole situation unfolded, is just how other people who are in the business seemed to be... surprised! You'd think after seeing this type of thing happen time and time again, they'd realize, it's just radio!"
In a world of Intertubes, connectivity and Podcasting, there is no reason not to keep on going.
Here's my message to Peter (and any other person on the talent side of the radio industry):
You do not need a radio station or any other mass media channel to give you permission to broadcast your talk-radio show to the world. It is called, "Podcasting" and you can do it for free (or close to it), and your loyal audience can now (finally) extend well beyond the borders of your previous employers limitations.
If you love what you do, and you do not know what your next professional move is, there is no reason not to keep your show going in Podcast format (people like Adam Corolla and Kevin Pollak are doing it). You'll suddenly have a global audience, you can do your show for as long as you like and release it as frequently as you wish. All of the content you will now create will be findable, searchable and listenable... forever (unlike radio where what you say is forever lost in the ether the moment it comes out of your mouth).
It's also pretty cheap.
Many Radio DJs already have studio-type scenarios set-up in their homes and have the skill-sets to produce something pretty advanced (when compared to Podcasts like mine - Six Pixels of Separation and Media Hacks). Then again, a decent computer, a Blog, a good microphone and programs like Audacity and CastBlaster can take you 100% of the way there. All you need is a free (and simple) link to iTunes Podcasting section (which takes about 5 seconds).
The show must go on.
People like Holder have an audience that cares. Many of them have moved away from Montreal and either listened online or looked forward to trips home to hear his familiar voice. Now - with a Podcast - they can get fresh and new content from Holder (and own his own terms). No, people like Holder will not make the same kind of money they made in radio from Podcasting, but they will be keeping their name in the public's eye and be able to build their personal brand while keeping their chops up. On top of that, "you never know" what kind of work and projects will come their way because of the fact that they didn't disappear into the ether (like many of their peers).
If I were Peter Anthony Holder, I would keep the show going online. People can listen in live, stream it from the Web, download it via iTunes, listen to it how they want and when they want. Holder can also say whatever he wants - it's his show.
Why don't more Radio DJs turn their talents over to Podcasting?
(by the way, for those interested in learning more about Podcasting, PodCamp Montreal is happening September 19th - 20th. It's free. It's Social. It's fun.)