Thousands of people have been laid off within the past year, and since deregulation in the mid-90's, legions of people have been laid off--tens of thousands of people. I've met people who've been in radio for years, and they really seem like survivors. A coworker who works in the business side of it said that once it's in your blood, you don't want to leave, no matter what you're doing in it.
People love it so much that when they're laid off or can no longer live on the measly money they earn, they're so devastated, I really think they need counseling. I don't know why radio creates such passion in people, especially because it's dying out, and you'd think that people would want to pursue other media. But there's something about it that makes people want to devote their lives to it. It's not a cult, just a total passion.
A couple of years ago when I hit a dead-end in radio and thought I'd have to leave, I wrote the piece below, thinking that radio is like unrequited love. At this point, I'd say it's heartbreaking, because since that time I've experienced some success in one of the most active radio towns in the world, so I'd say I'm no longer experiencing unrequited love. But I'd say I'm once again feeling heartbreak.
Working in radio is like being in love with someone who doesn't have time for you.
You meet, and you totally fall in love. You proclaim your love for it, and promise to remain faithful forever. You give it all your time and your energy, you give your heart, and then it turns its back on you. It gives you promises, but it doesn't totally deliver. It pulls you along, occasionally giving you scraps of what you want, but it never wants to truly satisfy you, and knows it doesn't have to because it knows that you will be there for it, no matter how badly it treats you. But you still follow it around, hoping that one day it will love you back in the same way you love it. But it won't. And it never wanted to. It just made you think it was there for you so that you could become its slave.
Being in love with radio is unrequited love. Or receiving just enough love to keep you going, hoping that it will return what you've given it. But it's never enough. And never will be. Because it's selfish and doesn't care. And never will.
You try to talk with it about your relationship, but it won't listen. And then you try to give up and walk away, but it calls your name, and you return, just to ignore you. You offer flowers and gifts, but it just tramples on them, then looks for someone else to use.
Working in radio can break your heart.
Happy Valentine's Day, Radio!