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Local Media Professionals Struggle to Survive Instead of Thrive

Scott Kramer and Kev Nash | The Wright State Guardian

Kevin Washington has a deep-rooted love for radio but believes the complications introduced after the global pandemic are restricting him from producing content up to his standards and fulfilling his full potential.

Challenges all around

COVID-19 created numerous challenges and complications within the workforce. The media industry is no exception to these difficulties. Affiliates from across the globe are having to conduct budget cuts, layoff periods, and remote broadcasts just to stay afloat.

“This is a tough door to open man, but it’s 1,000 times tougher to open it back up after you close it,” local DJ Kevin Washington of Alpha Media said.

These were the words of one local media personality in response to the complications that COVID-19 has brought to the field.

“We’ve seen revenue drop as much as 60% in some cases, particularly for the month of April, as this thing really started in Mid-March,” according to Executive Director of the Indiana Broadcasters Association Dave Arland.

 One member of a local media group had to make drastic changes in order to keep their job.

Kevin Washington (DJ name Kev Nash) is one of the most popular and well-known hosts on HOT 102.9 FM, Dayton’s hip-hop station. Nash has a passion for music dating back to his college days at Wright State and WWSU 106.9 FM, and has transformed that passion into a successful career as a DJ, events coordinator, and production director with Alpha Media.

However, when a global pandemic impacted the world in countless ways, Alpha decided that changes needed to be made.

Drastic measures

Alpha Media laid off staff members from across the country, according to CEO Bob Proffitt, although no official number was given. 

Functions such as interviewing, show hosting and sales deals were moved online, and few processes were conducted the same.. Nash was fortunately among the lucky ones who did not lose their job, but that does not mean that he was in the clear.

According to Nash, Alpha Media had a new approach to survive the pandemic, and it was to retain their most valuable and talented staff members and have them fill unassigned roles within the corporation. 

“The mentality they were going towards was embracing people with versatility, and almost like swiss army knives of media,” Nash said.

These new values Alpha Media enforced required Nash to become a part-time engineer, as well as fill the role of co-host for the afternoon rush show on Dayton’s ESPN affiliate. Nash says his fear is if he cannot perform these new roles, he will be let go in favor of someone who can.

The pressure to succeed in a new role, along with maintaining a level of excellence in hosting a show with HOT created a lot of stress and anxiety for Nash. It is incredibly difficult to get started in the media field, but even more difficult to re-enter the field after losing a job or changing direction. 

The passion of music and content creation still drives Nash to do progressive and unique work within Alpha, but the pandemic and the new roles caused him to question whether his passion was still worth the stress and pressure.

Standing out in the media

Another challenge of the media field is finding a spot and carving out a role, as well as standing out in a crowd of equally talented and hungry individuals. 

According to a story done by the Guardian, a typical media graduate opening position receives approximately 250 applicants. From there, only the top 40 or so are seriously considered. 

Scotty Kramer, a junior media studies major at Wright State University, is not foreign to the concept of a competitive media field. However, when he arrived at Wright State, the sports director position was already filled at the college radio station. 

Looking to still kickstart his media career, Kramer joined the broadcast team and began pursuing his passion by covering Wright State athletics across a variety of sports such as basketball, baseball, soccer, and football.

Similarly to other career fields, a portion of media revolves around climbing the metaphorical ladder and continuing to improve in the craft. Kramer knew that he had to find a way to progress his blossoming media career, and with the sports director position filled, he applied to be the programming director and treasurer of WWSU.

Kramer has made it known that this was not the path he wanted to take and that he would still rather be heading the sports department. 

“This wasn’t what I wanted to do. I wanted to be the sports guy, man. But you know I just kind of lived with it,” Kramer said.

He embraced the opportunity to take a leap of faith, and now is the head of creating the show schedule for WWSU, reaching out to podcasts about potential partnerships, and keeping track of the station’s budget. Kramer made the necessary sacrifices to keep his passion and dream alive, while also combatting the pressure of finding a role in the media industry.

Media personalities are constantly making sacrifices and battling pressure to keep their passions alive. Whether it’s because of self-doubt, bad timing, or a global pandemic, this field, according to Kramer, is one of the most challenging and pressure-filled experiences one can go through. 

“You come into this whole experience thinking you’re special and you know your stuff. But you quickly find out there’s hundreds and thousands of people who are just like you. It’s a war every day,” Kramer said.

But, like Nash finding a way to work three jobs at once at a high level with Alpha, or Kramer finding a way to create a strong resume through a different path, the passion shines through for those willing to adapt and chase their dreams.