30 years… and it’s only just begun

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Sheri Lynch is really special. She is analytical. She is intelligent. She is cultured. She has one of the quickest and sharpest senses of humor you will ever meet. And, she’s on the cover of the May 9, 2022 issue of Radio Ink Magazine coming out Monday.

Here is an excerpt from our interview…

Radio Ink: 1992, when you started, it was another time. How do you stay relevant with changing times?
Lynch: My career has coincided with some of the craziest roller coaster loops in radio. When I started, the consolidation was just beginning. I have to watch all these radio stations being bought and sold.

I was also there when the internet exploded. I was in a meeting one day and someone in the room said to the general manager at the time, “Don’t worry about the internet, it’s a fad. I vividly remember thinking that there was always someone saying that cars weren’t going to run or that electricity would never replace spark plugs. There’s always someone like that in every room. I made a mental note of this cool moment.

The world is literally changing before our very eyes, and I work in a dominant form of mass communication, and there are people in this room who don’t want to see this. I didn’t think it was a fad. I knew what I was looking at. Although I couldn’t predict all the dark and wonderful things it would become for us.

I was also, I think, the first adult on Facebook. I saw what social media could mean to the people who do what I do, and to this day I am baffled by how indifferent some in our industry are. I was on the phone with a program director early in the pandemic who said, “I don’t really believe in social media. OK, well, I don’t know what to tell you. For
to me, social media was an obvious brand extension of my show and what I do. If I connect with people from 6am to 10am MF, now I can connect with them 24/7 and not just with words but with videos and pictures. I can take care of their business and they take care of mine. I dragged our show kicking and screaming into this world because I believed in it and still do. It’s incredibly powerful for radio and useful when used correctly.

Unfortunately, we have a lot of old spirits in positions of power, and that’s considered a necessary evil or the last item on the agenda. For fun, I’ll go around and check the social media pages of radio stations, and very often I’m disappointed with what I find. They are like static billboards; there is no humanity for them. I think, “OK, I can’t convince everyone.”

Radio Ink: Everyone thinks he can be a TikTok or social media star. Do they
you don’t want to be radio stars anymore?
Lynch: I don’t know if I’m the person who can answer this important question, but it seems to me that no one wants to be a radio star. They want to be an influencer. Can you blame them? There are people who can barely pay their radio rent now. There aren’t many great opportunities now.

The industry hasn’t exactly accommodated people entering horizontally from another location. You are expected to follow the farming team model, do 200 nights in the market and fight your way to the top. That path doesn’t even exist anymore because many of those entry-level jobs have moved to voice tracking or automation. We still want people to go through the traditional pipeline, but we sealed it with cement a while ago.
Why is it surprising to anyone that young people in their twenties want to be TikTok stars and not radio stars? How controversial is it to point out the obvious truth that TikTok has almost no barrier to entry? If you have talent, initiative and game and you know how the algorithm works,
you can become a star on TikTok, but we have gatekeepers. These gatekeepers aren’t necessarily going to open an email or check a resume, are they?

Get your own copy of this issue, which includes the 2022 list of the most influential women in radio, HERE

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