We all know that the economy is in a rough state. It affects everyone in different ways, but there is one aspect no one can escape. It's not climbing prices or shrinking paychecks. It's not that serious, but it's certainly just as annoying. All the clichés come out in full force during difficult times.
You have no doubt heard all the statements that don't really do anything to help the situation. While reaching for the low-hanging fruit to get through the tough times, and prioritizing based on the return on investment are all good, we don't need to dwell on what we could do. Focus instead on what we are doing.
The economy in general has its problems, but the specifics for radio are easy to see: On-air ad sales are down so expenses are scrutinized if not eliminated altogether. Some companies are cutting back on salaries or working on reduced-hour work weeks with corresponding reductions in pay. Despite this reality, the pressure is on to keep the facilities at top form.
You're probably trying to do more with less (oops, another cliché). You're asked to make an ageing piece of equipment last just a little longer. You have to delay the studio project another few months. In short, you just have to get through the tough time until things get better.
There are some unfortunate consequences to the current belt tightening. One consequence often ignored is that once things are rosy again, the tight restrictions are kept in place. We made it work without spending money then, we can just keep going that way, right? You can only work in starvation mode for so long. From an engineering standpoint, it's important to recognize the overall situation and work within the available means, but it's also important to inform the manager or owner about the realistic details. You can make it work a little longer, but the day will come when it has to be replaced.
Of course it's easier and cheaper to replace something when you want to and not when you have to. If the project is put on hold, develop a new plan and timeline to restart it.
But difficult times have a more personal effect. With the added pressure, it's very easy to develop and project a bad attitude. While some commiserating is therapeutic, too much of it does nothing to improve the situation. It often just makes it worse. Not only do you feel unmotivated, others may see you as no longer being a part of the team, or worse part of the problem by not trying to find a solution.
I mentioned reductions in work hours and pay earlier. The common answer is, “At least you still have a job.” While that doesn't help the situation, it is true. (I know many people have lost their jobs, which is unfortunate, and I'm not making light of this point.) Another cliché that fits here is work smarter, not harder. Prioritize tasks, and get the maximum effect for the effort. Unfortunately, some of the pet projects — the fun part of the job — may have to wait.
This is a perfect time to develop new ideas. Sit in on a sales meeting. Have lunch with the sales manager or general manager. Bounce ideas off each other. There could be an engineering solution to a sales or revenue problem, and everyone will benefit from the effort. This could be a good time to launch a multicast channel or online stream. The equipment may already be in place.
As we look ahead for relief, we see the predictions: on-air ad sales look flat, but online has promise. The overall economic view predicts a better future. So pull out your favorite clichés just to have a chuckle, then roll up your sleeves and get back to making the radio magic.
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