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Guest Blog: Alan Cross | Beware the Best Before Date

Broadcast guru Alan Cross breaks down how you can boost your career longevity in radio. Put his advice into practice below. About five years into my radio career, I noticed that a disturbing number of my co-workers had disappeared. They had the misfortune of becoming surplus, redundant, replaceable, too expensive and sometimes (or so it seemed), too old. One day they were on the air but the next day they were gone No goodbyes, no explanations. It was like they’d never existed. They found other work, of course—real estate, police forces, retail, construction—but they were never able to go back to their first love. After one too many staff purges, I vowed to do whatever I could to avoid their fate. There’s no magic secret to being able to keep a radio job—getting downsized is something that happens to almost everyone in their career (me, included!)—but there are ways to minimize the risk. The first thing every radio person should realize is that there’s a best-before date on our foreheads that we can’t see. Understand that being a radio announcer isn’t one that comes with a lot of portable skills. There’s only so much call for people who can sit alone in a room holding one-sided conversations with themselves. In any other circumstance, you’d be medicated and committed. But what we can do is re-date ourselves on a regular basis. Here’s how:
  1. Make yourself as irreplaceable as possible. Learn how to do other jobs within the station. People who can efficiently multitask and more valuable than people who can only do one job.
  2. Work on creating a personal brand that is valuable to your station and sought by clients and your audience. What do you offer that no one radio personality can?
  3. Use your downtime to pick up some new skills. There’s no downside to becoming a wizard with Excel or web design. You never know when that might come in handy.
  4. Network—and not just with radio and music industry types. Most jobs in the real world aren’t posted to the general public, so the more people you know in other industries, the better chance you’ll have of being tipped off to that job outside of radio when you need it most.
  5. Pro bono work is good for your soul as well as your image and reputation. Your fellow volunteers may just be the doorway to a new career.
None of the above will inoculate you from losing your job one day. But they may delay the inevitable indefinitely. alan@alancross.ca ________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Alan Cross Alan Cross is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock and is a respected also known as a musicologist and documentarian. He’s written four books, works as a public speaker, has a national newspaper column in Canada and co-hosts a weekly podcast called Geeks & Beats. He also serves as head of Canadian Curation for Songza. Alan has been deeply involved exploring the present and future relationships between music, technology and social networking. More information can be found at www.ajournalofmusicalthings.com. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________
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