A small radio cluster can be onto something with talent development by John Shomby


We’ve heard these broadcasting companies and radio stations in various markets tout the merits of “live and local.” Sure, there are many iterations of this concept, but there’s one in particular that caught my attention and, frankly, should have yours if you care in the slightest about the future of our industry.

Let’s take a look at what my old friend, Jason Addams, is a part of at the MacDonald Broadcasting cluster in Saginaw/Bay City, MI. I was alerted by an industry colleague a few weeks ago that this particular cluster was designed to be “live and local” 24/7! All talents alive… all the time!

I had to see for myself how this group navigated through this, so I decided to reach out to Jason, the cluster OM and go-to person for all of this. This group consists of heritage country station WKCQ, Classic Hits WMJO and AC WSAG-FM and WSAM-AM. As Jason described it to me, every station, every hour, is hosted by a live personality. Considering this is market #150, the talent pool isn’t very deep. Obviously the hardest part of Jason’s job is filling the stations’ time slots.

“Staffing for 168 hours is always a challenge,” he said. “The best part is just getting the job done. But here we get both worlds; old school radio and a contemporary 2022 landscape.”

The biggest question for Jason, of course, is where he finds the people for all these positions. “The president of our company started at the front desk,” he explained. “One of our morning entertainers started in promotions over 40 years ago. We have had a “development of space” philosophy for many positions. I ran ads on TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, e-blasts, our website, and through the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. Were also aggressive about using our staff to help recruit broadcasters in the area they know. We are constantly recruiting!

“I hired people who had no experience but had big, big personalities and vocal skills,” he continued. “Then we start radio school. With follow-up, we can train them overnight, and so far we’ve had some success.

Radio school! Interesting. Here is a cluster that is strongly committed to the community and a commitment to bringing new talent into the business.

I asked Jason if any staff had increased the size of the market over the years. “Mason de Mason and Remy worked here,” he said. “They did matinees in Chicago and St. Louis.”

Jason’s enthusiasm for this is contagious, by the way. It excites him to help start radio careers there.

This process in Saginaw got me thinking. Why can’t big business do this in a way that could benefit them AND the industry? With their large footprint, couldn’t they isolate several of their smaller “hub-and-spoke” markets and designate them as “live and local”, and implement this concept 24/7 and start a school of local broadcast, so to speak?

Couldn’t this also help make it easier for budding broadcasters to join our company? They could create “farm teams,” divided into regions, for each company to nurture and develop young talent for their larger markets and beyond. Just as major league baseball teams subsidize their farm teams, perhaps big corporations can do the same with these select clusters. It may cost those big boys a few bucks, but it’s a definite investment for the future.

The bottom line is looking at 10 to 15 years down the road. What are we doing to attract new young talent? Saginaw’s MacDonald Broadcasting may have found an answer. Big boys: the ball is in your court!

“Take your radio presence to the next level. Whether it’s an artist, radio programmer or on-air talent. Coaching and mentoring down to your basic level”

Contact me:
John Shomby
Owner/CEO Country’s Radio Coach


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