I Told A Friend To Get Out Of TV

I told her to get out. That’s advice I’d never given before–advice which came surprisingly easily.

next-generation-weather-satellite-goes-o.jpgI got a call yesterday from a friend. She’s a meteorologist and former intern I’ve helped with her career. She has reached a crossroads.

The job is no longer fun. Her company’s viability is questionable (as are some of their cost cutting practices now showing up on-the-air). She is being asked to do more with less–that less often being her own sleep! It’s not a good situation. She doesn’t see it getting better.

I told her to get out. That’s advice I’d never given before–advice which came surprisingly easily.

“There are going to be fewer, not more jobs,” I told her. “There will be ‘central casting’ where one meteorologist serves a bunch of stations.”

If asked tomorrow to do weather for Connecticut, Albuquerque and Grand Rapids, I could. Most on-air mets could. Looking out the window is overrated when you’ve got as many observational sources as we have.

Her small station is a prime candidate. A friend in Palm Springs tells me the NBC station there is already getting their weathercasts from someone at their sister station in Las Vegas. He wouldn’t have known if he hadn’t read about it in the newspaper.

There are tradeoffs. Two stations can’t be live at the same time. Some local forecasting quirks would have to be learned.

Mostly the public wouldn’t notice (as my friend the Palm Springs broadcast executive didn’t notice)–except the finished product would be more sterile. If you’re recorded, live interaction becomes a casualty. It’s the kind of fatal wound that bleeds slowly, but steadily.

I’m not sure broadcasters can afford the luxury of quality over cost. Many, like my friend’s employer, are upside down in their financing. Money to pay off notes trumps every other expense.

More-and-more this is what’s happening to local radio. One disk jockey can do a handul of shows every day if all the waiting between the songs is eliminated. It’s called voice tracking and it’s done because it costs less–not because it’s better. It decidedly is not better&#185!

Back to my friend. She sees her career as a dead end. If she stays, what is she staying for? It is an environment where company loyalty is a one way street.

She has other skills. I suggested she go with those and set up a small business in the community she’s grown to like. She’s in a relationship. That’s much more important than a boss who sees her as an interchangeable part and will always be looking for ways to let her go.

I’ve never given this advice before. I never thought I would. Most people don’t understand the financial pressure all media is under–not just print.

My friend does.

&#185 – If you really want to be depressed about the state of radio, read Jerry Del Colliano’s “Inside Music Media.” He is brutal in his assessment heavily leveraged companies have eviscerated local radio.

The Balloons Fly

Photo from my Motorola RAZR cameraphone

13 Oct ’06, 9.46am EDT

Originally uploaded by Geoff Fox.

More to come. This is from my cellphone, taken in Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque, NM. The mass ascension Friday morning was beautiful.

ABQ – We’re here

You can’t sleep well on a plane. You can sleep fitfully. That’s what I did for a good portion of our Baltimore to Albuquerque flight.

Albuquerque’s airport is unusual because there are no rental car counters. A rental shuttle, which serves all the companies, takes you to what looks like the rent-a-car mall.

Everything was quick and easy.

I asked the agent for a car with satellite radio. He said “maybe,” there weren’t many cars around. As it turned out, I was fine. Most of the cars had XM.

I ended up with a white Impala with a gigantic trunk.

With Casey Kasem on the radio with a classic American Top-40, we set out finding the hotel. It wasn’t too much of a problem. Only one u-turn! Even Google can’t get everything right.

We’re on the 7th floor, and the fun begins in the morning.

You have on idea how tired I am right now.