Radio Would Be a Great Business… If It Weren’t For the Employees

21I’m sure the title of this week’s post caught your attention. If you’ve ever been a manager, quite possibly this thought has crossed your mind on more than one occasion. Unfortunately, technology has provided many a radio company the opportunity to give this concept a whirl.

The reality is radio is a people business. Take away the people and do you really have radio anymore?

My best sales people were a pain in the derriere. My best air talents were likewise. And I mean that in the nicest possible way. The fact of the matter is, great talents are always a handful to manage, but they are the engine that creates great radio.

Managing great talent is the art of keeping them from killing one another. Managing great talent is respecting that they are outstanding at what they do and at the same time looking them in the eye and under no uncertain terms letting them know that their talent doesn’t transcend to every other aspect of their life.

Very talented people often think that because they are outstanding in one area, they are in all areas and this is often what leads to their downfall.

Managing great talent is like keeping a nuclear reactor under control. You need to know when to push the control rods in to calm things down and when to pull them out to create a powerful, positive reaction.

Managing great talent will exhaust you. Managing great talent will frustrate you. Managing great talent will challenge you. Managing great talent will be the greatest experience of your life.

I’ve had the honor of running some great radio stations over my radio career and I’ve been fortunate to have worked with some incredibly talented people in every area of radio station operations. I credit my success to them and doing my best to clear the field of obstacles that might prevent them from performing at their highest personal best.

Since I started teaching, I’m finding a similar scenario with students. Great students will get every piece of knowledge they can out of you. They are self-motivated to excel. And yes, they too, can be a handful. But the greatest reward a teacher can experience is having students who want to learn and then apply what they’ve learned to grow and excel at whatever they put their mind too.

Warren Buffett’s “3 Qualities to Look for in Hiring:”

Integrity, Intelligence & Energy.

If you don’t have the first one, the other two will kill you.

To sum it all up, the most important thing any business or school can do is pay attention to how it recruits the people it will work with. You can’t teach attitude. You hire attitude. Everything else can be taught.

Radio is a great business if you will do these three things: 1) focus on hiring great employees, 2) make sure everyone is focused on the same goal and 3) let your people know you really care about them.

Just remember, like a high performance automobile will command a lot of attention, the finest race horses will command a lot of attention, so will high performance talent. Anything that performs at the highest levels of its field will command a lot of attention.

If you like winning, then everything it takes to get there will be worth it.


Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio, Sales, Uncategorized

14 responses to “Radio Would Be a Great Business… If It Weren’t For the Employees

  1. Spot on, once again! Many managers are terrible at “customer service.” Once hired, it’s either laissez-faire or micro manage toxic dump. On-going enthusiasm, mentoring, coaching, encouragement & motivation add up to perpetual momentum. Just like politics, sports and show biz, broadcasting is A Momentum Business!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Right On Clark. I also believe that goes for teaching. The students are my customers and they’re paying lots of money for a good education. It’s my job to deliver the goods.

      Would you believe that I’ve found that to be a radical idea in higher education?

      That’s a topic for a future blog post.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. As always, a great blog. Radio has shifted from the days of “ego” talent. Radio has grown up, and more than ever, it is a business. Talent should come in to a station knowing the expectations. Management should provide a great working environment and encouragement, but the talent (sales, programming, or on air) should know what is expected, and a desire to learn (and adapt) with a industry that is rapidly changing.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Michael Straus

    I owned a garden center and a florist shop for a good while. I did a lot of casino decorating for their parties and special events. We were always busy. At one time we were doing 6 casinos New Years Eve parties, so I didn’t have time to pussy foot around. I would hire people ( designers, shop sales persons, stock people etc ) for a 1 month trial. They could have been the greatest at whatever job they were hired for and some were. Some were the best I’ve ever seen at what they did. They were by all measures excellent employees. But if they came in late or didn’t clean up after themselves, to me they became just an average employee. I used to hate average employees. You could get them anywhere. I guess it’s the same as what you’ve blogged. Just sayin.
    Anyway have a great week.
    Michael Straus

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Curt Krafft

    When I found out that being difficult is part of the creative process, I can no longer get along with myself.


  5. Bob Kilpatrick

    Read your blog, thank you for it.
    I was hoping for a little more from you on the topic–a few stories (names redacted) of actual experiences you had ands how you dealt with them (or didn’t).
    It’s a blog, so your have plenty of room to expand and expound.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Quoting Harry Callahan: A man’s gotta know his limitations, not just Great Talent but Mgt, too. As a Semi-Retired Great Talent, the best Mgt (GMs,PDs) were those who had actually had a show “once upon a time”. Practical experience gives invaluable insight to operative issues that transcend a big ego. Without the Big Ego, there is no Great Talent. Without Great Talent, a Big Ego is unsustainable. In my 50 years, I’ve worked with 5 of the Best GM/PDs (WBAP, KSFO, Z93, WBAL, WBT) and 5 of the Worst (B104, Z100, WABC, WOCT, WQSR). The Best had all mastered Dick’s recommendations – and then some. The Worst all shared identical personal/professional shortcomings: They believed Great Talent needed to be micro-managed, perpetually controlled, limited, criticized and/or “disciplined” for “coloring outside the lines” — until the ratings/revenue handsomely compensated them precisely because Talent pushed the creative envelope; then all was forgiven. Bottom line: Mgt has Great Ego/Control Issues, too. The 5 Best above knew their limitations and successfully dealt with Great Talent effectively and constructively. They knew their title and authority didn’t make them omniscient.That earned them the affection and respect of the entire operation. The others were masters of internal chaos. low morale and high turnover.
    Put more simply: Dick’s guidance works – across the board.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The problem as I see it with commercial radio is that consolidation has turned it into the blandest of pablum. And with the current financial mess that is I Heart Radio I’m waiting for the fire sale where radio stations are up for pennies on the dollar to satisfy creditors. I wouldn’t mind owning a radio station or two.


  8. oldiesfan6479

    So who was the WABC GM/PD (at the time) ripped on by Brian? I can’t recall exactly when he was at 77. Early ’80s?

    And for the author–in the photo at the top, what is that sitting on top of the ITC triple-deck? A Spotmaster? Where you had to shove the cart in then pull the lever back to lock it?


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