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Radio Co-Host Confession

tony215x215There is an issue facing thousands of radio co-hosts and sidekicks across the country; the radio station values the main host of your show more than it values you. That was the revelation this week for Fitz in the Morning sidekick Tony Russell when the host of his Seattle-based morning show got a new deal.

“I realized Fitz signed for another 5 years, but I didn’t. No one came to me to sign a contract for another five years.” Tony, who is documenting his mid-life crisis on the blog www.TheNextHalf.com, confessed his frustration on this week’s Radio Stuff. “Basically, Fitz’ decision was my decision. I had no say so in it what so ever. So I’m here for another five years too, basically. It’s kinda like Brooks & Dunn.”

It was a swift kick in the gut.

And then another does of reality hit.

“Hell, I’m not his co-host, because if I was his co-host this would be a 50-50 deal. Thus the word “co.” I’m a sidekick. And I thought, ‘Wow. I don’t really want to be here another five years if I don’t make more money.’ The truth of the matter is while I make great money for the rest of the country, for here (Seattle), I don’t even qualify to buy the average home. I thought, ‘This just sucks.'”

So he wrote a parody of a country song about it. (Listen) Fitz and the morning team had a good laugh. But, there are lessons for all us in Tony’s story.

“The biggest mistake I made early on was not saying, ‘Hey I want my name on the show.’ Because, if your name is not on the bumper sticker your equity goes way down and so does your pay in comparison to a host. Get your name on the show when you’re starting out. Make sure you’re part of the brand not just part of the team.”

If all this sounds a bit mopey and “woe is me,” Tony has a caveat. He’s not bitter with Fitz or even blame him. He owns it. And as a licensed mental health counselor and ordained minister he offered himself some advice;

“Watch your attitude. Because it’s easy to get bitter. Remember you get to do something everyday that thousands and thousands of people would love to do. Walk in everyday like your pants are on fire and do the best you can do and again brand yourself. Find what your good at and don’t go ask to do it, don’t wait to be asked, initiate and show your value if you want to stick around.”

RS 72 cover

  1. October 10, 2014 at 11:24 PM

    One of the best blog posts in a long time. But I think this can also apply to news anchors. We see some big market names/talent getting pushed to the sidelines because the talk show hosts are considered the more important ‘brand’ to the station. What many brand managers fail to realize is the bench for great these news personalities (some who are very good on the talk side as well) isn’t very deep…so those individuals need to do a better job at marketing themselves as an important part of the station/show they’re involved in. And PD’s need to make sure when they do find that rare talent that ‘clicks’ on their own, or with a host, they grab on to them and give them the support they need to grow. Finding true talent that connects with listeners is getting harder and harder to find these days…and that is scary.

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