Radio’s Worst Practices

A solution

There was a great article in the Harvard Business Review a couple of weeks ago. It explains why we should focus on our worst practices and why improving just a few makes such a huge difference.

So, what are your station’s worst practices?

The very first thing you have to do is get outside your corporate viewpoint, so you can see your station, your company, from an outsider’s perspective. The article lists 4 ways to do that.

ASK YOUR CRITICS. You won’t enjoy this one but, boy, is it ever useful. You want to talk to the very people who criticize you most. You want to hear the voices of those who have left, who’ve moved on, who your VP of Programming said were replaceable. They don’t need you, and they don’t care anymore if you like what they say — so they can be honest. Listen to what we say to you. Don’t defend. Don’t rationalize. Just listen, and take notes.

SPEND A DAY IN THE TRENCHES. How can you know how impossible it is to run 3 or 4 stations simultaneously, do an airshift, coach talent, attend meetings, and still be creative if you don’t ever do it? Nothing’s impossible for the person who doesn’t have to attempt it.

EXAMINE YOUR PAST. Once you get feedback from people no longer trying to kiss your ass, and spend a full day actually listening to your product, you might think back on times when things were better, when your station sounded bigger, more fun, more entertaining. What were you doing then that you’re not doing now? If your station was once great, you had to be doing something right. Look for it. Acknowledge it. And find a way to replicate it.

BECOME YOUR OWN PRODUCT CONSUMER. I think you’d be stunned to know how many GMs, PDs and account execs don’t even listen to their own stations.

Every radio station should have a policy that once a month, the PD spends the night in a hotel, wakes up at 6am the next morning and spends the next 12 hours just listening to their station. No phone calls. No multi-tasking. Just listening.

What if your company had a team of “secret shoppers,” people your station doesn’t know who want to, say, buy time, just to see what they’re told? Or, who regularly call the station to see how long it takes to answer the phone? Who pretend to be listeners calling the air talent to complain about repetition?

You get the idea.

Stop looking for kudos. Stop drinking the company kool-ade.

Dig for your station’s worst, and you’re on your way to getting a whole lot better.