Home Music Industry News Donnie Simpson’s Return to Radio is about Urban Radio’s FUTURE, Not the...

Donnie Simpson’s Return to Radio is about Urban Radio’s FUTURE, Not the Past


At least a couple of months before Donnie Simpson returned to radio, I had heard it was going to happen. I actually didn’t believe it. I couldn’t figure out why Radio One would hire a vet jock with Donnie’s credentials in 2015. This only added to the list of things that I didn’t understand about Radio One.

Once it was announced and I got more information, the decision became more clear to me. I noticed that seasoned urban jocks went crazy on Facebook. They were expressing sentiments like “radio is back,”  “it’s about time,” and “urban radio is back where it belongs.”  These sentiments helped me to realize many vet urban jocks maintain a hardcore propensity to go back to yesterday’s form of urban radio.

Donnie Simpson’s return to radio and TV is much greater than it appears. He’s smiling for a lot of reasons and I don’t blame him. Time will tell the whole story and this is a great move for him.

Urban industry radio vets are going to have to realize that urban radio 20 and 30 years ago was very different. Stations were independently owned, programmers and jocks were more plentiful, playlists were a lot longer, labels had huge budgets and there were several industry conferences to bring us together. Yes those were the good ol’ days and we (those over 40) were the last generation to see the industry in that realm. Our main focus was RADIO. We were younger and those days are gone. Playlist are half the size, labels don’t have the staffs or the budgets they once had, radio corporations have their own conferences and stations are no longer independently owned. Any radio corporation today that is only focused on radio will be left in the dust. Today it’s about MEDIA and Digital Media at that. It’s the same with jocks, any jock that is only focused on doing a show without leveraging the opportunity and building his or her brand by being online and in social networks, doing local charitable works and a lot more than just collecting a check also has a dull future in the industry.

I will let you in on something that I know for sure, a majority of working  programmers and label people avoid calls from people who want to talk about yesterday’s industry. They have to be progressive in every aspect to do their job well, they don’t have time to look back. We have the picnics now on both coasts and I expect one to be named in Atlanta soon for those who want to get together and reminisce about the good ol’ days and there is nothing wrong with that but understand that today’s working industry is about progression.

Today, I no longer have the energy to use this vehicle to lead horses to futuristic water on the radio front (at least not for free) but I will say… do something else WHILE you wait for that oh so familiar cycle of being hired-then-fired-again. If you don’t do the work to build your brand, you are COMPLETELY missing an even greater opportunity to promote yourself outside of radio and create that magical and powerful element called “leverage.” I can’t tell you how many people I have seen in radio have it, ignore it, lose it then make the same mistake at the next station. “You have the most leverage when you are at your peak.

Finally, radio is not the end of your career. I see so many success stories of former jocks who went to TV, Real Estate, Small Business etc. Some went back to school to earn another degree to teach or become college professors, Attorney’s etc. Then there are those who have completely grasped the social networking, online radio, podcasting concept never looking back. The urban radio industry is in trouble when it comes to jocks. There are so few young people interested in working in radio and so many vets who can’t stop looking back and not growing. The writing’s on the wall, radio is going to have to compete with streaming head on sooner or later and one thing is going to become expendable, either jocks or commercials. Which one do you think will go first?  There are no longer age restrictions on doing a great show, reaching the world building your own brand and being your own salesperson if you have compelling content and a large audience. The radio station of the future is on your desk at home and there are thousands of people who have NO experience taking full advantage of it and making money in the process that YOU should be making. You have to decide who’s in control, you or just another radio gig.

Forging Ahead……PLEASE




  1. Yo Kevin, I love the positive view on how today’s jocks must make himself indispensable through the use of social media. I agree with your advice and how the industry has changed however one thing that “insiders” fail to see is the business model that they are mostly employed by. Radio is now under the “Private Equity” model and the only winner in this model are the owners of the equity firms. Private Equity firm use leverage buyout and bleed the business into bankruptcy. It is so sad to see such a cultural idiom such as radio being rendered to into nothing through one sided business model that does not benefit the community it serves. I would not expect a current employee to say anything against the present employer that feeds them so therefore even those in the business the words and thoughts must be taken with a grain a salt as well and not be view as the Gospel. Many people in radio today don’t know about the real Glory Days of radio between 1963 – 1978. In the new age of radio there still needs to be service in the public interest and just plain old competition. COMPETITION and LOCALISM makes radio better for the people.

  2. Absolutely Reggie, I was stressing the importance of that by telling jocks to make themselves a business and using their leverage in any way possible to grow instead of remain stagnant. A radio corporation today is pure business and you are right, so much gets left out in the process so it’s up to the jock to make HIMSELF a valuable asset because the corporation has greater concerns and has the monumental task of going digital, learning the processl and keeping up at the same time.

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