Let me start by saying that we have a lot of GREAT producers working in radio right now. This is in no way a slight on them and the work they do or the stations they work at.
What I am about to write about is a problem that I’ve seen across the country when it comes to the amount and quality of producers that exist at a lot of radio stations.
I started in small market radio as a DJ, APD, Promotions/Production Director, and any other job that I could wrap my arms around. When I was 25, I took a big chance and drove from my job at WNUS in Parkersburg, WV to talk my way into being the producer for the National Syndicated “G Gordon Liddy Show” on WJFK in DC. I had no idea what the job would entail, but I was sure my years of doing every job would prove useful. It did.
I took a pay cut, if you can believe that, and got the job. I quickly found that my years of working with talent who didn’t like “the kid” telling them what to do, was supremely useful in working with talent on the bigger stage. From WJFK I moved on to a great career as an EP at WNEW in NYC, Alice, and Live 105 in San Francisco.
I constantly learned more from the other great producers around me and my mentor, Jeremy Coleman, who gave an extreme amount of guidance and clearly expressed his expectations to his producers. As an EP, I was expected to guide the show and also oversee every aspect of the show both on the air and off the air. That included producing audio, booking guests, and working with clients.
Flash forward to today. I spend a lot of time working with talent who want to start podcasts at their stations. Podcasts, take production. Podcasts, need great producers and in the podcasting world, producers are a hot commodity. They are paid well, and sought out by podcast companies like mine.
My first hires are all producers. Unfortunately, when I go to stations, the amount and quality of producers available to produce podcasts are small and in most medium and small markets, there are few to none. Most of them are young folks who really want to be on the air and are producing to get there. They don’t see being a producer as a viable career path, and many don’t have the experience it takes to produce a compelling show.
Why is this? First of all, radio is not paying their producers what they should or providing them the training they need. I talk to people all the time who aren’t skilled at multitrack production, storyboarding, and writing. All of these are key to producing great podcasts. Again, it’s not the producer’s fault, as they haven’t been given or encouraged to do the training needed for this kind of work.
Podcasting is a craft that needs to be learned and practiced. Having a great talent to host them is not enough to compete in this increasingly crowded space.