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September 30, 2014

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10/25/99 Is Your Station Mister Roger's Neighborhood?
I once worked with a PD who treated every second of airtime as if it were the single most important second in all history. The man was utterly obsessed with making the listener experience the very best it could possibly be, 60 seconds per minute, 60 minutes per hour, 24 hours a day. Frankly, he was a total pain-in-the-butt. Even the simplest infraction of his rules was met with screaming like that of a 3-year-old child. At one point, this pain-in-the-butt PD decided that no one from sales could speak to his programming staff unless they spoke through him. Every attempt by the sales manager to "go direct" was met with screams and flying carts. There was actually a section of the sales manager's wall with a series of dents with broken plastic on the carpet. The whole staff feared his dramatic and childish temper tantrums. He was also the best PD I ever worked with. Under his tyrannical leadership, our station became the top-rated station in one of the most competitive markets in America. We billed huge dollars right up until the day he was fired. Shortly thereafter, our station returned to normal: The working environment became normal again, our Arbitron numbers dropped to normal, and so did our billing. Great artists have been known for mood swings and impossible demands for perfection. Great program directors donŐt build great Radio stations by being reasonable. Great PDs demand excellence from every second of the day. The moment they succumb to the whims of an aggressive sales organization, the station's listener franchise will begin to crumble as a direct result. Many of you may interpret this stand as being anti-sales when, in fact, the opposite is true. Big sales dollars always follow big Arbitron numbers. The truly great GM finds a way to let the "pain-in-the-butt" PD do his job without too much interference. Smart GMs are always willing to pay passion's price, knowing that a case of carts and a little sheet-rock repair are a lot less costly than a bad book. Today's PDs are spending far too much time accommodating the sales department, and Radio is becoming incredibly boring as a result. So the next time your PD has angered everyone in the building, I hope you'll just take three deep breaths, then smile and ask your Bad Billy to please "learn how to play well with others." Then order the new carts, and call the sheet rock repairman. A Mister Rogers-style PD can't build a world-class Radio station, and a wimpy GM can't run one, either. I humbly submit that we need to get all the wimps out of Radio before it's too late.

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