The times are changing in the mass media field and college graduates need to be ready to handle those changes, a local radio disc jockey with 31 years of experience in media told a group of Clayton State University students on Tuesday.
Majic 107.5/97.5 FM evening radio personality Silas Alexander, III, who goes by the name SiManBaby, was the first speaker in a newly-launched series of monthly lectures given by professionals working in the media industry.
The Internet is at the center of a new merging of media, with newspapers and television news stations posting videos and stories online, and radio stations simulcasting broadcasts on web sites, Alexander said. A media outlet's ability to survive now depends on whether it crosses all of the mediums, he explained.
"Media has changed," he told the students. "You have to be where people are. They are not going to come to where you are. So, if they are electronic, [then] you have to be electronic. You have to find ways to continue what you have, but [also] to develop it, and take it to the next level."
Alexander's remarks underscored the message that Clayton State mass media professors have tried to impart to the students about the need to broaden and adapt expectations about the media field, to meet the reality in the field, according to university Student Media Advisor Jennifer DeMond. She said that is something the school was looking for when selecting speakers for the media series.
"It's good to have that reinforcement from other people, because I know they [students] kind of get tired of hearing us say the same thing over and over again," DeMond said. "So, to have someone else come in, and reinforce that was really great."
Alexander said, in addition to the advent of the Internet as a medium that ties other forms of media together, rapidly changing technology in general has caused many changes in media in recent years. He used his own profession, in radio, as an example of how technology has changed the way media professionals do their jobs.
The radio personality explained computer software now allows radio engineers to edit content for broadcasts on a laptop computer, whereas they previously had to splice audiotape to do their editing. He also said ratings companies now use small electronic "people meters" instead of the old method of using notebooks, filled out by hand, to track the radio-listening habits of people.
"All of these transitions are happening right now," Alexander said. "It [old methodology] is not way back. When I say way back in the day, I mean like five, six, seven, 10 years. Not too far back in the day."
Alexander, who has worked at several stations in the Atlanta market, also told the students that they need to "create a buzz" around themselves. He said that will allow them to move up through the employment ranks of media outlets, by helping them get noticed by major media organizations. He suggested they use new technology, such as Skype or Internet radio, to start building that buzz.
"This is not your parents' time in radio, and TV, in media [in general], because back in the day, if you were on a radio station, it was kingpin," said Alexander, after his lecture ended. "It didn't have competition. It didn't have [cell] phones to compete against. It didn't have Internet [or] satellite radio to compete against ...
"It's just a whole different world, and they [students] have to think about not going to work for someone as much as they have to think about developing their own entrepreneurial spirit."
Students who attended Alexander's presentation said his message about "creating a buzz" around themselves in a changing industry is the key point they took away from the speech.
Wakenia Smith, a junior marketing and communications major from Atlanta, said she focused on Alexander's message about entrepreneurship.
She said her professional goal is to someday own her own media company.
"I learned that you definitely have to persevere [and] you have to create something new, something that's different from what's already out there," Smith said.
Laticia Lewis, a junior mass communications major from Decatur, said she appreciated Alexander's honesty about what is going on in the media field, and what it takes now to be successful. Lewis said she works for the university's television news station and Internet radio station, and wants to work in radio after college.
"A big fear that I have about graduating is that I won't find a job," she said. "He just said 'Hey, if you have something special, and if you hone in on your skills, and find a market that really, really likes what you're doing ... If [you] have something really special, then employers will reach out to you.
"That just made me think I want to go back to the ground level and start working up, and figuring out 'OK, what can I do? What have I not seen, or something that I can be that is special and not already out there?"