My 4 years as radio program director were the best four years of my life. They will shape my approach at my next opportunity and can help you too.
Let me give you a little background. My first PD job came at a station where i was 3 years into my second employment stint there. We had been on a decline, both in terms of ratings and revenue. Employee turnover was picking up. My new job was to help rebuild with a new general manager. Together, we accomplished a lot in 3 years. He was a pro seller and gave me space to run my department. At the end of that 3 years, we had a killer product which attracted many more (new and former) listeners and clients. Here’s my 3-phase approach to getting it done.
First, improve the inherited situation. Go ahead and make minor tweaks to the existing environment. Meanwhile, work tirelessly on a long-term plan. In this case, it took us 6 months to develop and implement a strategic and staffing plan.
Second, transition to the new going-forward approach. You start replacing “how it was” processes with a “how it’s going to be” philosophy. It may get sticky with employee resistance and unexpected hurdles, but you press on. Clear, constant communication can help overcome resistance.
Third, sustain the new approach (and success). You don’t want to race to the top only to quickly abandon that top spot. This can be tough. You can’t let people fall back to their familiar laurels. You must show the payoffs of the new approach to ensure continued ‘buy-in’ from staffers. And, yes, you can still tweak at the ‘sustain’ level. Plus be sure to create or use some sort of metric system to help view and analyze the results.
I repeated this strategy upon transferring to another radio market. This time, the inherited station was one that was trying to gain traction against a direct competitor which happened to be one of the best stations in the country. We did see some nice growth in a short amount of time, moving into the ‘transition’ phase. However, a family relocation prevented me from seeing the task through.
You can do it. Just don’t expect to happen overnight. Change can be great. But its systematic. Change for the sake of change is a waste of time.
What are you waiting for? Let’s change the world!