I really didn’t know what to say to a group of college students who are looking for careers in the radio industry and were after some advice.
How could I tell them that their chances today are very limited indeed and that they would be better off looking for something in a different area of the media?
A point was raised that there are more radio stations now than ever before. But sadly, opportunities are at a premium for teenagers.
I was lucky. I’m probably the last in a line of local radio presenters who have worked their way up in the commercial market, especially in our area. I’ve lost count of the number of radio stations that have closed and are now networked from outside the patch.
It got me thinking. Where will future radio presenters come from? The opportunities offered to me no longer exist.
Yes, we have more stations. But with extra competition and maximum profits demanded for the lowest expenditure, margins for some can be very low.
I remember a young Scott Mills walking into Power FM and volunteering. He learned from the other presenters until he was offered the odd overnight show at the weekend. The rest is history.
I did the same on the Isle of Wight and, after moving to 2CRFM in Bournemouth, I came home to Power FM in the summer of 1996.
Where would a young Scott or me go today? Power FM has closed, replaced by a London networked radio station. The same applies to 2CRFM.
In Portsmouth, you would have gone to The Quay and helped out to learn the ropes.
But now this station has also disappeared, replaced by a networked brand from Southampton.
The rules have certainly changed. Independently-run stations were allowed to buy each other, creating large groups which in turn have been allowed to network shows from one studio across the country.
This makes big business, but effectively kills off the idea of local radio.
Where will future Kenny Everetts and Chris Evanses come from? With the lack of opportunity, video didn’t kill the radio star – networking did.