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Buzz Knight

What PD's Can Learn From Terry Francona

By Buzz Knight

As I watched the implosion of Boston Red Sox Manager Terry Francona before my very eyes, I was reminded of some very important disciplines that apply to Program Directors in todays era of talent management. With two World Series victories under his belt and a tremendous run in a win at all costs sports town, its amazing how a fall from grace can occur so rapidly. Can that happen to your team?

According to the local press the team had no chemistry and discipline. The team took a nine game lead into September and appeared to be a lock to make it into the playoffs and ultimately folded like a cheap suit and packed their bags quickly toward the off-season. One of the star players, Adrian Gonzalez, complained that during the long season. the team was scheduled for too many Sunday night games and it led to fatigue. Oh the misery and challenges of making $20.3 million dollars a year. Another player, Pitcher John Lackey, constantly rolled his eyes and threw his arms up in the air during games during his absolutely putrid 12 and 12 season to earn his $15.2 million dollar a year salary.

During a press conference right before his exit, Francona called many of the players challenging as he evaluated the demise of the season and his run as manager. Im sure he is a perfectly nice gentlemen and a more than competent baseball manager and hell get a new job quickly so we wont shed any tears on his bitter ending. Yet we can learn from afar how to manage the zen of our own talent team at radio stations and how to manage with love and discipline.

Some immediate thoughts for your consideration that can help you consider discipline and the zen of talent management:
1). At the moment you set foot in a radio station, you need to set the tone immediately with your talent on what you expect.
What disciplines for preparation do you expect from your talent?
The first impression that you make with your team is vital.
If they perceive youll be soft and look the other way when something is going wrong they will take complete advantage of you.

2). Be completely candid and direct regarding performance.
When the performance warrants a pat on the back, absolutely give it, but, when the performance is poor, dont mince words.
Too frequently programmers dont dish out enough good and along the way fail to immediately correct poor results.
When were afraid to lay it all on the line with honesty and too much time passes, we frequently lose the impact of discipline and coaching.

3). Correct bad behavior immediately.
When Francona reflected on the challenging members of his team, he seemed to be resigned to the fact that they had tuned him out and were no longer being motivated to win.

The job of managing a collection of egos on the baseball field or a radio station is challenging but, as its often said, thats why you get paid the big bucks. Dont let discipline and respect for authority drift.

4). Manage team chemistry constantly.
It may seem corny when a radio station team or a baseball team spends an off day goofing off at the bowling alley, but those exercises are vital to team chemistry.

5). When the winning strut of a team is gone re-evaluate everything.
When your team is listless and has lost that burning desire to  beat your competition, you need to make dramatic improvements quickly.

Buzz Knight is the Vice President of Program Development for Greater Media, Inc# he can be reached at

In his role Knight is responsible for overseeing programming development for all of the Greater Media properties and collaborating with the individual programming teams to build winning content and brand management strategies. Knight has been with Greater Media since February 2002. Prior to that, he worked as Program Director at several stations including: CBS Boston based classic rock WZLX, Saga Communications rock WNOR in Norfolk and Great Americans Active Rock WLVQ in Columbus, Ohio. In addition, Mr. Knight spent 3 years on air as part of the legendary WNEW-FM in New York City. He launched his broadcasting career at WRKI in Fairfield County, Connecticut after graduating from the University of Dayton.

Knight was named among Best Programmers by Radio Ink Magazine in 2007 and 2010. He has served on the programming subcommittee of the National Association of Broadcasters(NAB) and is currently a member of the Arbitron Radio Advisory Council and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) COLRAM Committee.

(9/5/2013 11:31:34 PM)
ZBUArD Very neat blog post.Really thank you! Much obliged.

- NY
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(10/4/2011 12:34:42 PM)
JS, I disagree that Buzz's baseball analogy is a stretch. It does not matter whether you hire your team or inherit them. A PD still has to manage them. Buzz makes some excellent points about keeping the team focused and functioning as one. Managing Major Market radio talent is a lot like managing Major Leugue ball players.

- Tom Kelly, Kelly Music Research
(10/4/2011 10:32:05 AM)
Kind of a reach here. Baseball managers don't get to recruit, hire, retain or fire their talent. They have very little leverage in a players union protected environment. Even sitting a star on the bench because of attitude will draw the ire of fans back to the manager. Baseball managers also have to suit up along side their players 162 times a year. Every live game decision they make will be second guessed in real time in front of 40,000 paying customers and perhaps millions tuning in via radio,TV and the internet. There are more PD positions in single major market than managers in all MLB markets combined. About the only parallel I see is that both jobs have specific numeric success measurements based around beating the competition and if you attain them you get to keep the gig.

- JS

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