After the past two years of consolidation and mergers, it is time to get down to the business of running our radio stations. Let's face it, the only difference between a radio station and a sales company is that one has a room at the end of the hall that has music coming out of speakers. The radio station exists to make money.
A radio manager of the new millennium must take a hard look at the bottom line. After a banner sales year in 2000, there are extreme pressures to move forward and grow the business in the coming year. Every penny spent will be scrutinized. Every dollar earned will be used to service debt. So how can an engineer justify to a radio manager dollars to be spent on a facility build or a system upgrade?
As a former engineer now sitting on the other side of the desk, I know it is a smart business decision to upgrade broadcast equipment and stay on top with technology. However, I have a budget to make, bills to pay, and I need to pay 70 employees each week. How can I afford to spend money on this build out? The answer? I can spend the money on capital improvements, if I can find a way to make it back with savings or growth.
New digital technology gives operators the ability to automate or consolidate station-staffing requirements, helping the staff work smarter, not harder. An upgrade to digital now will save money later. When DAB rolls out, our stations will be halfway there. Improvements in older equipment bring less down time, require less spending on parts and maintenance, and reduce engineering maintenance time. All this means more time can be spent on growing the business.
Don't be penny wise and dollar foolish when it comes to new broadcast equipment, major station capital improvements or a facility move. As with any major change, you need to empower people to make decisions and evaluate the recommendations of the end users.
John Carraciolo is vice president and general manager of Jarad Broadcasting Company, Garden City, NY.