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Community Broadcaster: Hidden Figures

The movement for pay transparency benefits stations and candidates

The author is executive director of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. NFCB commentaries are featured regularly at

More than ever, media organizations and other businesses are being open about salary ranges. For a previous generation, this kind of public posting about salaries was unheard of. Yet leaders are seeing there are advantages to this approach.

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Many of us have seen generic wording before in listings. “Salary commensurate with experience” or variations thereof. For years, this obfuscation around pay was the norm. it benefits the employer to keep pay quiet, so the boss has room come negotiation time. However, big pushes for salary transparency in media have emerged the last three years, with some fields sharing what a baseline could and should be. These tendencies have rattled the fashion we’re accustomed to seeing salaries.

How does your station handle salary and wages in its employment searches? And how can this change be a win?

Almost as common in the generic language are situations where a promising candidate withdraws from a search. In the worst cases, they may drop out after they’ve gotten the offer. Why? In many instances, it is because the employer was cagey about the bottom line until the very last minute. That’s unacceptable for the candidate, who walks away with the impression your station may be cheap and is apt to hide it; and for the station, which just expended hours of paid staff time for a process they’ll now have to restart, all because they avoided a discussion that could have been cleared up by the very first posting.

Some may think that, by posting a salary range, you’ll limit the number of candidates. But really, what’s better: a small pool of candidates who know what they’re walking into, or a large pool of candidates in the dark and needing to either be persuaded by other perks or lied to by omission until the offer comes? And which candidate has higher morale coming in to the job?

There’s also an argument for fairness and diversity in hiring by being open. Last year, the National Federation of Community Broadcasters started collecting anonymously reported salary and wage data. “Chances are you are not facing pressure on pay fairness at the moment. That does not mean your community radio station can’t work on equity and your mission,” the page notes. And it’s true. More organizations want to build trust with candidates, and transparency is a means to uphold this value.

Pay transparency represents a cultural change for radio. But such a change needn’t be difficult. In fact, such change can meet our missions.