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A Radio Swing Doctor


There are a number of analogies radio station managers have presented to their new hires. Two in particular made my skin crawl. The first of these was introduced with a claim about operating as a team. The more fatuous assertion was: We think of ourselves as a family here at Bluster Broadcasting. Following the latter, I enquired: Who gets to be Dad?

Although my query did little to endear myself to management, it did establish an understanding: I wouldnt be compelled to slurp the Kool-Aid. A threshold had been radically adjusted. From then on, they tolerated me. And we all prospered.

I address the team approach, though, with more interest, as the family concept arrives as an already, seriously flawed example. Besides, families tend to avoid outside observation, input or influences, particularly when uproar and chaos so often make up the status quo. Teams, on the other hand, are organizations that are systematically built from the ground up. Individual executives, athletes, and support staff are considered and chosen carefully all with one, intentional outcome: winning championships.

Professional athletes already verified as elite participants are still afforded the services of other professionals. That is, the coaches, trainers, therapists, and psychological support personnel are continuously being employed for their expertise. These individuals are brought into the organizations because their services are understood to be essential to the process of attaining the original, motivating outcome.

Of course, these dynamics apply to other fields, as well. Singers have access to vocal coaches, physical therapists, and psychological professionals. Top business leaders have their mentors -- as do the physicians and scientists with their teachers and esteemed colleagues. And the exceptionally proficient and highly successful practitioners of the most difficult game in the world have their swing doctors. Nobody questions Tiger or any other golfer pro or duffer -- on a decision to engage more than one of these experts over time. Golfers understand that continuous improvements also come about through the efforts of regular practice and the application of strategies and techniques that would be difficult for them to recognize or execute only by themselves.

I invite radio managers to consider how they, too, are using these same principles in their own organizations. Having done so, a reasonable manager would be excused for realizing how none of the above is applicable to their team and vacate the room.

Radio, is closer to the family model. Whether referring to a single, stand-alone stick, a group of small-medium market stations, or a mega-glut broadcast powerhouse, radio, like many dysfunctional families, commonly operates as a closed system vigorously avoiding and rejecting those outside influences or expert practitioners who can provide the appropriate and required skills to drastically improve a situation. Even when radio managers do consider some alternatives, it is with the most severe of suspicions. With that as a starter-state, it would be easy for anyone to discount and discard the opportunities that engaging such expert individuals would expose and exploit.

Some years ago, I was hired by an already proficient athlete who had been attempting to put three rounds of golf together in-a-row in order to earn his PGA tour card. His issue was one in which only when the pressure was on him to perform expertly for those three rounds, did his putting game collapse. He described it as getting the yips. When I asked him to grab his putter and demonstrate what it was like when he was experiencing these yips, he did appear like an amateur gardener clutching a hoe for the very first time. Anyway, since I had been trained to reproduce and deliver a cure for the yips, we went to work and got him straightened away. (Now, I wouldnt be telling this story if he didnt get back out there, earn his card and successfully hit the tour.) The point is: Techniques and strategies are available to those who appreciate the need for, and the benefits of, striving for significant, game-changing improvements that cant be self-induced.

Circumstances, however, are far worse for our radio associates. There is an immediate, glaring need for a Doctor of Swing and Other Things to be engaged. Those who would benefit immediately are the on-air and creative staffs. Next are the managers and sales reps. Radio, compared to other major media, on a good day, is on crutches. Other days, life support. Rx is required stat! A band-aid and a belt of cheap scotch will not suffice. The services of a proficient professional with the necessary education, radio experience, expertise, and demonstrated abilities to deliver results are required. And so, eagerly, I make myself available as such an individual.

Here in Toronto, North Americas fourth-largest radio market, a successful, radio-using, weight-loss clinic for men has been consistently offering the same message. The owner, in a gruff and studly voice, challenges listeners with: Show some guts. If you could do it for yourself, you would have done it already! Yes, I would have adjusted and improved the script, but I wont argue with the intent of the message.

For decades, radio has had every opportunity to get its act together, and has either neglected to take action or failed miserably at whatever anemic attempts it might have made in improving its status, impact, and prosperity. Obviously, this is no self-help scenario. As the weight-loss clinic owner suggests, Its time to man up and sign up! That is, if anyone is tired of being perennial bottom-dwellers, and wants their team to win championships.

Ronald T. Robinson has been involved in Canadian Radio since the '60s as a performer, writer and coach and has trained and certified as a personal counsellor. Ron makes the assertion that the most important communicative aspects of broadcasting, as they relate to Talent and Creative, have yet to be addressed. Check out his website

(7/24/2013 11:00:53 AM)
"...and while we are waiting for those who got the revelation to make their way to the front of the stage, here is Axl Rose.... and his orchestra." :)

- Ronald T. Robinson

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