Radio’s Loss

Allow me to introduce you…

You receive this email from me once a week, each Tuesday morning. I send it to an elite group.

You may be an on-air talent, big market or small, Program Director or VP of Programming, General Manager or CEO, but you’re on the list because you’re a thinker.

Most of you are too busy for it, but I do post at least one new thought piece every day. And I thought you might have missed a “conversation” that followed my post last Monday, entitled: Radio Therapist, which appearend only on my web site. The quotes below are about that post.

So, please allow me to introduce you to some fellow thinkers:

I agree with your assessment of Steve Allan’s WBIG. It was a great radio station and Steve was always the rock solid leader. I was proud to be in the same building with him. But as far as…providing a little basic therapytoo bad fewer people can afford the couch attached to a therapist these days. The job has been consolidated into the receptionist’s position.

That’s Charlie Ochs, one of the finest station managers — and human beings — you will ever know. Just glance at the companies he’s devoted his life to: Infinity, Viacom, CBS… Look at his record of service to our nation.

How about Steve Allan? Do you know him? He programmed WBIG, the best radio station in America not that long ago. And you don’t have to take my word for it. Check the ratings, and the Marconi Awards. Please meet Steve…

What worked so well was that management and staff could approach you — in confidence — with issues or challenges, and you would work the back channels to help resolve those situations.

Looking back, it’s amazing that we were able to have you on the team. Most consultants today are brought in to be the Selector gestapo or the liner police. They are so worried about fitting a model that they don’t help a radio station sound great. You were more concerned about the BIG brand than whether I was playing two 70s Pop records in the same hour. It’s too bad today’s Radio tribunals don’t see what they’re missing.

Finally, may I introduce Tom Pagnotti, who used the name Tom Kelly on the air? TK, as he was known, is the best pure adult jock of this generation. He is not only amazingly gifted as a talent, he understands the real work that goes into producing greatness, on the air, and in Arbitron, and he embraces ‘community service.’ Tom gets it.

I had the good fortune to be part of that staff. Still, today, I’m not exactly certain why it worked as well as it did. I suspect it was simple chemistry — the right mix of people at the right time.

Although, this makes it sound as though it was left to chance. It was not.”

When it all came to an end at WBIG, I had other major market broadcast opportunities. But frankly, I knew it would never be as good as my 14 years with the originators of BIG. Actually, I should amend that. It COULD be as good IF someone had the vision.

But as Charlie Ochs points out, very few can afford the luxury of a ‘therapist’, an off-air PD, and a GM watching only one station. Steve Allan still has that vision and he is piloting his new company with the same steady hand that guided BIG.

It’s Radio’s loss that Steve Allan, Catherine Meloy*, (Charlie Ochs) et al, are doing their own thing now.

I keep seeing Tom’s final line: “It’s Radio’s loss…”

I am not a doom-and-gloomer. I don’t think radio is dying or near death. But I do believe we have big challenges and need our best minds, our best talent, our best resources to meet them.

I visit a lot of markets. I know what your stations sound like, and we both know they could sound better. Why do you resist help?

I’m not asking you to hire these specific people, though you would be very wise if you did.

Tom Pagnotti has a thriving VO business, CHOICE VOICE.

Steve Allan has focused his brilliance on social media in his company, SMTHREE.

And Charlie Ochs walked away from a type of management he could no longer support — his decision, not theirs. I’m sure the golf is fine in Florida, but he would love an opportunity to help you now. Call him. Take advantage of his knowledge and experience. It can only benefit your company. Truly great people always want to share their gifts.

I am asking you — again — to open your mind, and your company to new blood, to a different way of looking at your problems.

I am asking you to deliberately stir things up. Invite some rebels, someone who will question you, who will press you to demand more of yourself and your company — someone who doesn’t think like you, and your various VPs.

We can be better than this!

We all know it.

We all know that it’s flat wrong for a CEO to fire hundreds of employees, run his company into bankruptcy, and emerge from the ruins with his own compensation untouched and stock options worth tens of millions of dollars.

We can find better CEOs than this.

It’s simply fear that keeps us from action. Fear of looking stupid, of being out-shone, or being the emperor who has no clothes. Fear of inviting “them” to “our” club.

Fear is responsible for “Radio’s loss.”

And that’s just unacceptable today.






*A quick note about Catherine Meloy. Catherine has an unparalleled record of success managing radio stations of every format, from Classical to OLDIES. She assembled that first extraordinary staff at WBIG, and managed them on and off, through ownership changes until she left — literally, for a higher calling.. She now works for a purpose and is the CEO and President of  Goodwill of Greater Washington, using her wisdom and talents to help those less fortunate. Why isn’t Catherine running a radio company? What does it say about us when our best people, our most trust-worthy, our most inspirational, our real leaders walk away from our business?