We Proudly Own No Cookie Cutter
Grand Rapids - (616) 633-3770 Indianapolis - (317) 769-0583

The Midweek Motivator – Can Radio Cope With Vulnerability?

A media company either grows or it withers. As programming consultants to radio companies around the country, regardless of market size the spectrum of problems and opportunities we engage range from programming strategies to staff attrition.

Stark and unchanging reality reminds us: in order to maximize investment ownerships have to find a way to grow instead of “cutting their way to prosperity”. But it’s not unfolding that way.

Growth is an adventure; especially under the Covid cloud. But while mega groups hold the fort until the tide of crisis recedes, truly confident radio entrepreneurs are finding ways to improve ratings, retain strong sales teams and beat the people down the street who are “playing not-to-lose”. Even today some of our clients feel growth is an adventure; it carries their stations and markets into format innovation, talent growth, and instead of “maintaining” sales levels, they’re transcending previous marks.

While almost all radio ownerships will tell you they seek the rewards of growth, only a few rare, gifted leaders are willing to incur the risk of set-backs: the wrong kind of pride and the yearning to be fault-free are all too prevalent in our management ranks. The notion that “only errors of commission involve risk” seems readily accepted and becoming an operating principle.

The best companies we’ve known are led by truly exceptional leaders whose premise remains: “There is so much more I can do.” As we watch stronger leaders translate that belief into criteria for their staff and department heads’ performance, acts of omission become as important as acts of commission.  Failure to initiate positive tactics for growth is a more serious mistake than running over budget by a few percent, or gambling on that morning talent who just might be your competitive tipping point!

If you want to be (or to cultivate) a great leader you must necessarily be willing to be judged by “20-20” hindsight. There’s no way to avoid that price of leadership and occasional vulnerability because if you’re unwilling, you’re not performing the job you were hired to do.

Vulnerability to scrutiny and criticism is a condition of life for any leader; in or outside radio. An uncomfortable general manager, sales manager or a program director will often turn out to be an ineffective leader. Discomfort comes with being charged with leadership; so get in the batter’s box and swing! Every radio company rises or falls with its leadership. A strong management team really doesn’t require everyone’s approval or unanimous acceptance (and you’ll never get it).

Strategize for the big picture; capitalize on short term opportunities that may never come around again. Manage for the long run but as the Covid crisis fades, focus on short term opportunities!

Three critical factors determine your leadership legacy: Judgment, Decisiveness, and Time. What do we see within the very best radio organizations? The spark to overcome temporary setbacks, the daring to innovate when competitors aren’t, the vision to plan, the skill to execute, the will to achieve and the leadership to motivate when others aren’t.