Columnists and convention speakers like to tell us about radio's dysfunction. They're not entirely wrong of course. Before we can improve anything we first need to isolate the shortfall, fixate on causatives, change the players' approach, or 'sell them happiness' and start all over. This is not meant to be cavalier, but it seems Nielsen is either at our throat or at our feet, depending on how advanced our programming minds and commitments. It's better to postpone a win than to achieve a defeat on schedule.
Audience Development Group is fortunate to have a lot of top ranked programming clients (a lot)! But since not even the best Major Leaguers hit 500, here are a couple of conditions for sustaining under-performance. Needless to say, they shouldn't be tolerated or under-stated.
Some rise to the occasion while others lower it, in order to feel better and normalize their environment. This is a subtle but deadly disease and can include leadership. Sometimes when a cluster or even a regional aggregate has tenured people who were at one time effective in their roles but have slipped into a slow, unspoken mediocrity, no one says or does anything; perhaps through the misconception they will be on the hot seat, or somehow bring unwanted intensity into their building. Enabling leads to only one outcome: disabling. Don't mistake "comfort" for leadership. As an owner put it, "It's so nice to be nice, but it doesn't blanking matter."
The Stockholm Syndrome
A highly respected Chicago management executive recently made a comment to a small gathering where he compared some under-performing staff members to The Stockholm Syndrome which is a term applied to prisoners-of-war who after a long time in captivity, subliminally begin to sympathize with their captors. In a company or radio cluster this takes the form of "we just need to coexist…just wait it out. Things really aren't so bad." (He was dead-on about this).
After a time, even once productive hard-charging talent or department heads give way to fatigue or worse, complacency. It's here where the question's not "are we competitive," but the stark reality of "it's either up or out."
Checklist for Winners
Know your opponents: study their tendencies as a unit and as individuals. Are they really better?
Decide "good enough" isn't good enough. Plan calmly then emotionally re-launch your approach with programming and sales. One without the other is not enough.
Stop using your old perceptions; start using your ears and eyes.
Guard your spirit and your intensity; disconnect from those who don't.
Audience Development Group