A few months back, while buying CDs at BJ’s Records in Barrie, I started chatting with store owner Danny Stephens. Why was I working in radio, and why was he running a used record store?
“It’s not for the money,” said Danny.
Truer words have never been spoken.
We agreed that neither one of us could survive in a job/career that was not creatively stimulating. You love what you do, or you don’t do it.
I would bet that the general public would be shocked to know how little radio people are paid. That young lady you like who reads the news? Maybe $22,000 a year (we’re talking small market, less than 50,000 population). The morning guy who makes you laugh? Let’s say $35,000.
I have worked with some very talented radio people who are now selling insurance, driving trucks and finding other ways to feed their families. They reach a certain point, shake their head at the after-tax line on their pay stub and think, “I love doing this but I can’t afford to stay here.”
Now, I am not criticizing my employers or the radio business in general. We are being paid the market value and year after year, more broadcasting school grads enter the workforce. Whoever determined that market value in the beginning is a cheap-ass scumbag, but….
Like my former colleagues, I could have chucked it, maybe gone back to school or sold insurance.
But I didn’t.
There is a satisfaction that comes with creating something unique. Something that no one else could have put together or, at the very least, a show that has your personal stamp on it. Something that caused a listener to post on facebook or send an email saying they enjoyed what they heard.
That’s why we do what we do.
A better salary would have bought me a nicer house, vacations, more security and likely more dates or relationships. Oddly enough, my Dad was an insurance adjustor though, if his family had been able to afford it back in the day, I’m sure he would have become a lawyer (he had a very sharp mind).
In between high school and college I had a job in the mail room of a Toronto insurance company. Had I stayed instead of taking print journalism and falling into radio by accident years later, I could have climbed the ladder and followed in Dad’s footsteps…my predecessor in the mail room became an adjustor…and I would have hated every second of it.

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