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September 21, 2014

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7/09/01 40 Magazines In A Safety Deposit Box
We hear of your glamorous jet-setting, your billion-dollar deals, and how you rub elbows with the rich and famous at black-tie galas, yet most of us have no real understanding of your job. We forget about the endless nights you drag yourself from an airplane seat at 2 a.m. and are up for a meeting at 6. We donít consider the endless days you're away from your family. We overlook that youíre the first in the office every morning and the last to leave every night. We can't relate to the enormous responsibilities of keeping tabs on multiple markets and profit centers. We don't hear the shrill and impatient demands from investors for "Profitability! More profitability!" We forget the abuse you stoically endure from investors, analysts, employees, bankers, board members, brokers, and press. You have made incredible sacrifices to achieve your success. Yet you make it look effortless.

Exactly fifty years from now, in September 2051, 40 college students will be given copies of the magazine that you now hold in your hands. Each of the students will be given a name to research for a term paper. One of these names will be yours.

What will your biographer write?

"She spent seven years, building what was momentarily one of the largest broadcast-Radio companies in the country, consistently returning a profit for her investors. Famous for her cost-cutting, "The Chainsaw" was revered by Wall Street ó until the day she could cut no deeper. In the final analysis, it was employee erosion that triggered her demise. Her policy of capping employee income, regardless of performance, caused the most talented and innovative of her people to flee to warmer corporate cultures. Her best salespeople went to work for the competition and took their billing dollars with them; her best on-air talent took her audience."

Or is the following what they will write about you?

"As amazing as this sounds, the founder of the largest broadcast organization in the world today was, 50 years ago, only a minor player among the broadcast-Radio elite. Attitudes that are today considered basic good business were, in those days, considered foolish. He was a turn-of-the-millennium maverick who built his company to legendary profitability by lavishing recognition and financial reward on innovative employees at every level of his organization. He was known for listening to and investing in his people, providing them endless opportunities for wealth and growth. Because of this, he was able to skim all the talent cream from other broadcast groups while it was virtually impossible for them to steal from him. On the day of his passing, 3,800 people wept at his grave."

Which paragraph best summarizes what you want your biographer to say about you?

Are you gathering Radio's best and brightest to fight under a happy flag? Or are you draining the heart, soul, life and spirit from them? Every business day, I'm plagued with calls and e-mails from unhappy Radio soldiers who no longer want to fight the battle. Their deep apathy and black depression stem from a deep distrust of their employer. Is it you? Profitability is essential, but can it be long achieved by raping Radio of its most precious natural resource, the heart of its people? Are you giving those who work for you the same opportunities that your mentors gave you, or are you burning them out, using them up and driving them to another industry?

Are you so isolated from your people that you fail to recognize that I might be talking about you?

In genuine concern and friendship,
Eric Rhoads


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