The Formula

The 10 steps to success

We continue to make this a lot harder than it has to be.

Here’s the formula:

1. Hire the smartest people you can find. “Smart” is like “fast” – it can’t be taught, and it’s always an advantage.

2. Hire passionate people. This is show business. Put people on the stage who love that spotlight. You want employees to complain about things that shouldn’t be. That’s how your station gets better every day.

3. Hire creative people. Find out how their minds work before you put them on the payroll. There are lots of ways to test for creativity but why not just brainstorm about one of your problems or promotions with potential hires for 20 minutes?

4. Play the hits. This requires music research. Budget for it. It’s a cost of doing business.

5. Make music discovery part of your station’s mission. Even listeners to SOFT AC appreciate being introduced to songs and artists they don’t already know.

6. Make entertainment and companionship a part of every break in every daypart. Stop with the liners already. PPM doesn’t care, and neither do your listeners. But human connection and emotion — laughter, tears, outrage, hope — these are the stuff of legendary talent and huge ratings.

7. Serve your community. That means connecting locally with every person and group that impacts the lives of those in your town. It’s a commitment to your neighbors, really, and it makes using syndicated talent much trickier. Not impossible, but more work for you if you expect to win this one.

8. Perfect a mobile strategy. Make the experience of listening on a mobile device, including in-car, bigger and better daily. This will require investing money. Another cost of business.

9. Don’t abuse your listeners or your advertisers by over-commercializing your product. If you won’t listen to 12 minutes of spots an hour, or 6 units in a row, why do you think your listeners will? They’re not dumber than you, and they do have choices. So, build realistic profit budgets, and spot loads, and lead your market for a change.

10. Reward loyalty and talent. Don’t treat those who give you their very lives year after year like some disposable cog in a wheel. Hire the right people. Support them. Praise them for their commitment and their accomplishments. And pay them enough so they never want to leave. Believe it or not, most of these talented people are more valuable to your success than your CEO.

If you run a station, and you can’t deliver on these simple steps, your boat is leaking, seriously, so your choice is to fix the leaks, or abandon ship.

If you’re an employee and your station can’t deliver on these simple steps, why are you wasting your talent, this one life, with people who don’t care about you or your success?

I’m not saying creating greatness is easy, but it is simple. It’s a matter of will, and leadership.

And because it’s so rare these days, it actually will make standing apart even more noteworthy, and big success more likely.

It’s time.