Why are some media personalities paid way much more than others?

Media industry in Kenya especially Radio and TV have grown exponentially to a level that some media personalities are earning unimaginable huge amount of money.
Both show hosts on Radio and TV in Kenya have created a name out of their career that they end up taking home huge sums of money in salaries every month.
While in earlier days it was highly believed that media personality who appear on TV were paid much better than their counterparts on radio, time has proven otherwise and now we have many radio presenters who are taking home much more than what their counterparts on TV are taking home.
While this is not the case across the local stations, many have come out to ask questions on why some media personalities are paid way much more than their counterparts.
This discussion was highly raised following the incident where Shaffie Weru served Radio Africa with a demand letter following an incident where Shaffie claims he was dismissed unfairly.
What took Kenyans a back is the amount of money Shaffie Weru was being paid at Homeboyz Radio. For the past few days after this incident happened, I realized a sharp increase on the web searches with many Kenyans trying to find out how much exactly are Kenyan Journalist paid.
This trend resulted in a sharp increase in traffic on one of the review I had done earlier on salaries of Journalists in Kenya.

So why are some media personalities paid way much more than others?

Still on Shaffie’s recent incident, In his role as a Programmes Controller and stand-in presenter at Homeboyz Radio, Shaffie Weru was earning Ksh682,500 a month in gross salary. He sought Ksh22 million in compensation for what he considers unlawful termination – calculated by adding his one month’s pay in lieu of notice (Ksh682,500), twelve months’ salary for unlawful termination (Ksh8,190,000) and gratuity of one month salary for each year of service (Ksh12,285,000).
Over the course of his 18-year stint at Radio Africa which has ended in a legal battle, Shaffie was one of the most popular media personalities in Kenya, let alone radio.  Shaffie cut a niche for himself on radio with his sometimes hilarious, sometimes brash takes on social topics of the day – and entrenched himself as a key figure in Kenya’s entertainment and events scene.
Media stations thrive on the game of ratings, that game is propelled by numbers. The ability of a presenter to woo a following of a certain target market is more important to any particular media house for both radio and TV. But it does not only end with bringing in numbers and raising the stations and programm’s ratings, but the ability to guarantee a loyal base of listeners and viewers.
Shaffie Weru seemed to be providing all these, thanks to his rich media history and consistency. At this point and over such a long period of time, Shuffie had the bargaining power  and one would argue this as the reason he was taking home close to a million at the end of each month.
As a highly rated media personality, his ratings translate to increased, more lucrative advertising deals, which are the bread and butter for many media houses. Advertising is what keeps the lights on. A figure like Shaffie is able to command a huge listenership – raising his value to the company.
You may think that Shaffie is the only media personality that was taking home a good salary at the end of the month, wait until you hear stories of media personalities such as Jeff Koinange and Maina Kageni.
The guys are well remunerated and their salary runs in millions every month. Here again, the game of numbers is at the centre stage. To hire the likes of Shaffie may cost you an arm and a leg but to afford personalities such as Jeff Koinange and Maina Kageni, you will need to add a Kidney.
From the above examples it is quite evident that the pay cheque of a given media personality is highly pegged on their influence and profile.
While many journalists are paid well, it is this difference between those who are at the apex level and the rest that sets them apart.
That said and done, it is never easily to grow your career in journalism to that level, it takes time and consistency is key, but all who have made it to that level will tell you that as a media personality, you must learn to reinvent yourself lest you be overtaken by time.
Media houses in Kenya have proven not to be forgiving when it comes to firing. If you cannot bring in numbers, you will have no bargaining power and you can easily be dismissed even over the lunch hour news time.
It is no secret that journalist must cut and define their niche in the media industry to remain relevant and have that bargaining power.

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