What it Takes to Rise to The Top.
Since he was a teenager, Steve Newberry wanted to be on the radio. That passion continues to this day for the CEO of Commonwealth Broadcasting who still pulls a weekend airshift. "Some people love spending their Saturday mornings on a golf course, I love being at the radio station" Newberry tells Radio Ink. "Saturday mornings are less chaotic, so I'm not answering business calls or trying to solve other problems. It's just me in the studio and our listeners spending a Saturday morning together. The additional benefit is it keeps me updated on the technologies we're using and keeps me connected to our programming folks."
Last Friday morning Newberry won the National Radio Award by the National Association of Broadcasters which honors an individual who is an outstanding leader in the radio industry. Previous National Radio Award recipients include Charles Warfield, Ed Christian, Bruce Reese, Jerry Lee, David Kennedy, John Dille, Lowry Mays, Jeff Smulyan, Bill Stakelin, and Erica Farber. A moving video of his success was shown as Newberry, his family and close friends sat and watched from the front row. He says "the pictures were all familiar, but when combined with the unbelievably kind and generous comments by those it the video, it became surreal. I was stunned by the experience and so appreciative of everyone's efforts and kindness."
Newberry talks about the passion he had - and still has - for radio. "The magic of the sounds that came out of that radio on the kitchen counter drew me to this business. The way my family listened to the morning news over breakfast, for a calming voice during tornado warnings and for school closings on snowy days. The way John Records Landecker on WLS (all the way from Chicago) owned nights in Kentucky. The way the entire State of Kentucky would stop and listen to Cawood Ledford when the Kentucky Wildcats played basketball. It was such a part of my childhood."
Newberry says becoming a radio station owner is something he set his sights on early in his life. "I actually had that realization when I was in college, because until then, it seemed as if it was a goal too impossible to achieve. My advice to someone wanting to achieve the same goal would be to set an objective, be willing to sacrifice, work hard and have patience. It might not be easily realized, but if you are always learning and moving toward that goal, you are making progress. Learn from every mistake and experience, and be tenacious."
We asked Newberry was the key to good community radio? "I can give you an answer, but that is a question we are always trying to answer and improve on. We want to be connected to our listeners, and relatable to their lives. We want to be responsive to their needs, and the needs of their community. We want to always be in touch, but especially so in difficult times, and we want to focus more on what's happening outside our building then inside our studios. Sometimes we get it more right than other times, but we are always trying.
And the key to being a successful manager in radio? "First, hire great people. Surround yourself with great people, set realistic goals and expect those great people to do great things. Second, empower those people with a clear set of values When an employee has to make an independent decision, they should be empowered to do so. However, I adamantly believe an organization must have a set of core values to guide decisions when those circumstances arise. Third, be a leader. Leadership is difficult because it requires making difficult decisions, taking public positions and being criticized for those actions. Leaders are proactive, not reactive and anticipate tomorrow's challenges rather than chasing today's distractions."
And, the key to motivating radio people to succeed? Like any profession, people respond to incentives and recognition. A sincere "thank you" goes a long way, and being a part of a successful operation is always motivating. Motivating radio people has another unique component: the passion of service to our communities and listeners. Anyone that has ever participated in a winter coat drive, St. Jude telethon, severe weather coverage or broadcast the return of troops from overseas gains an entirely different kind of motivation to succeed. Passion about service motivates radio people to succeed.
Steve Newberry has been an owner and operator for over 25 years. His enthusiasm for radio is crystal clear whenever you speak to him or see him around other radio people. He has held many leadership positions in broadcasting including joint board chairman of the NAB, and a member of the board of directors and executive committees for RAB. As president and CEO of Commonwealth Broadcasting Corporation. In this capacity, Newberry oversees 22 radio stations with facilities throughout Kentucky.
Congratulate Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org
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