Simple But Not Easy

Not that long ago I was in the radio business.

And I saw the handwriting on the wall that told me radio was in big trouble.

I began running around telling all my radio comrades that we needed to change the way we did business, or we were in big trouble.

Of course, they didn't want to hear that – so they didn't.

In fact, I was told my fears were silly – iPods and Satellite radio and the Internet were no threat to radio at all. That's what my corporate bosses told me, anyway.

And when I tried to explain that it wasn't fear that was motivating me, but rather the recognition of a trend that was inevitable… well, some of them laughed.

They're not laughing any more.

I've been out of the radio business for almost 4 years now, but hardly a week goes by that one of my old comrades doesn't call me and tell me how the margins are continuing  to shrink, listenership continues to drop like a lead balloon, and corporate failures and layoffs are coming at an ever-increasing rate of speed.

There is good news in all this.

Radio's answer is a simple one… but not easy.

It's the same answer I was touting 5 years ago when I decided to get out that game altogether.

Here it is: make a better product.

So what does that look like?

  • Pay the expense to hire good talent – and let them make radio shows that are compelling and entertaining.
  • Stop playing so many commercials (in fact, I suggest you stop playing any commercials and invent a new revenue model… but that's an entire post of its own and, I'm sure, too scary for radio folks to even contemplate)
  • Decide you're in it for the long haul, and stop managing to next week's “revenue number”
  • Forget the ratings game and focus on the results you get for your clients instead
  • Serve the community you operate in – with real community service, not the usual “lip service”

That ought to get you started, radio folks.

And it applies to almost every other suffering business or industry; you probably already know what you need to do.

The problem is, it's simple… but it's not easy.

Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at

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  • I met with a salesman from a business directory yesterday, selling space in a website and paper directory (yes these things apparently still exist). I saw raw fear in his eyes. Not a pretty sight in a grown man. I will not see him next year, I don't think. The irony is that I think I can see a newer business for his company. But it would mean massively downscaling and still taking a huge risk. That's easier to recommend from the outside than to implement from the inside.

  • Ray,

    Great post and as you say, good advice for ANY business today. That’s because we’re living in an era of truly radical change in the world and the economy…driven by the internet.The internet really is a “disruptive” technology that impacts on pretty much everything. I’d suggest that we’re only at the start of the changes that we’ll see.

    So…this a Good News / Bad News situation. On balance it’s GREAT news because the world will get a lot richer and we’ll have opportunities that we can’t even imagine. The bad news is it means that we’ll need to be open to change…and let’s face it, few of us like to have to change.

    A great book to help understand what’s going on in the world today is “The Sovereign Individual” by James Dale Davidson and William Rees Mogg. It was written over 10 years ago and it’s fascinating to see some of the things it discusses unfolding.

    Thanks again for a thought provoking post!

  • jwellsy

    Make sure there is a market for your better product. A great support system, mentor or mastermind group can help minimize the ugly baby syndrome.

  • What a great personal example you have to share with us. I think you are right about producing the best product possible. This is true in every walk of life… We must stay ahead of the curve, and work hard to stay there.