Why I Chose To Leave Radio

We look at radio hosts as community leaders, stars, and sometimes best friends. If you’re a radio host, you’ve felt that responsibility. So why would anyone in that position want to leave it?

It all looks wonderfully glamorous – and it can be. You’re meeting amazing people from community members and leaders to people at record labels, to rock stars and country stars, and everyone in between.

Why did I leave? I can’t speak for my former peers about the industry, but I can share my story. 

Some of you might know me as Val from Quick Country 96.5 and Z-ROCK 107.7 out of Rochester, Minnesota. Some of you have followed me since my time with Studstill Media in central Illinois. Before I start, I have to reassure you that I am immensely grateful for your giving me your time. 

In October, I chose to leave radio after being involved in the industry in various ways for the past ten years. This decision had nothing to do with the listener – it had everything to do with a “gig” environment that radio welcomes and encourages, its cutthroat nature, and (at the risk of being ultimately honest) a few (I do really mean “few” here) select giant egos. 

Radio is a cutthroat industry. You’re only as good as your last “book”, also known as a rating period. That’s right – your favorite radio hosts are counting on you to remember them, listen to them, and rate them, in order to keep their jobs. They do their job for little pay. Despite this, most of them couldn’t imagine doing anything else because they love serving you and entertaining.

I, personally, eventually found that environment to be incredibly stressful. I gave it a chance. I had a breakdown in June. After intense therapy, I returned to work still facing the same thoughts about the industry. So, I chose to quit. 

What I’m hoping by my sharing my story is to let you know three things:

  • Your favorite radio hosts need your support, because you’re really the best part of the job.
  • We can change the “gig” culture (of radio and other industries) by putting our passion behind what it is we want to change and showing those industry decision makers where our hearts really are. Example: do you love a local band? Great! Send them to the top by supporting them so labels pay attention. Radio pays attention to the words of labels and their decision makers.
  • It’s okay to say “no” when you need to. 

I’m still adjusting to life after radio, but I’ll always love the magic behind it and respect the power it holds.


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