(Surprisingly, the people who make the most money in radio are not the kind you hear from a boom box.)
This article lists the Top 5. Can you guess who they are? They’re listed at the bottom of this part of this. A couple thoughts about this list:
1. Three of the five are political conservative talk show hosts on AM radio. This means that these men (all five are white, middle aged men) have developed audiences of superfans who will follow them to the band of radio most people shun – AM.
Take away your feelings about their politics for a moment. They’ve struck a chord with an audience and supply the “content” that their audience wants. In this case, that content is conservative politics.
Now, if you’re not a listener of these people, answer this question: When was the last time you spent longer than three minutes on AM radio listening to traffic & weather together?
2. Radio, like the real world, like entertainment, has its 1% – or less than 1% – who make a disproportionate share of income. Being a radio DJ/On Air Personality, is still something of desire for many. And why not? Your voice is broadcast to a large audience.
The reality, however, is that it’s very difficult to make a middle class living in that position.
When I worked in radio, the DJs all had at least two jobs. For two of them, that second job was as station program director and station music director. But for all of the others, they had to do other things, from tending bar to teaching private baseball instruction to commuting into NYC to DJ shows on SiriusXM.
This is very similar to musical artists who make some money playing gigs and streaming songs and selling merch but also have to teach at a School of Rock, tend bar, or sell Christmas trees in a parking lot when it’s 27 degrees outside.
The dream is achievable. The possibility is there. Just realize that in whatever field you desire that top success, there’s another field just like yours with other people just like you. Now excuse me. It’s the eights and I have to tune in to find out about delays on the Cross Bronx.
The Top 5 Paid Radio Hosts of 2018
1. Howard Stern
2. Rush Limbaugh
3. Ryan Seacrest
4. Sean Hannity
5. Glenn Beck
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Professor David Philp is Assistant Professor Music & Entertainment Industries and Popular Music Studies at William Paterson University. He is the co-host of the only FREE advice college radio-based music & entertainment industry talk show in America, Music Biz 101 & More, which airs live most Wednesday nights and is available as a podcast HERE every night (days too). Your favorite professor is also co-author (with Dr. Steve Marcone) of Managing Your Band – 6th Edition. Reach him at PhilpD@wpunj.edu or find him on LinkedIn HERE.