How I Stuffed Up

Greg Smith is an inductee into the Australian Radio Hall of Fame, and a Director of Radio Today.

I’ve made plenty of mistakes over the years & as I reflect on them I realise that most of them came from being talked into actions or out of them by other people.

In other words I didn’t trust my own judgement enough.

For instance I adjusted the format on a radio station because Sales wanted to win 25-39 year olds. They’d be happy with just winning that single demo. Of course when it happened they wanted more. I knew in my gut that it was wrong. I made the fatal error of going against existing audience predispositions.

I’m not blaming others for my mistakes as I had the opportunity to say no.

A winning Content Director has to develop great judgement.

These days you have so much information coming your way from audience research, social media, group executives and your colleagues, that you just can’t take it all in. This is when decision stress sets in.

It’s like managing your emails. If you start signing up to all the interesting newsletters that you discover online, suddenly you’re overwhelmed with all the information that hits your inbox.

Your job is to define the Critical Issues & focus on them & not get bogged down with the stuff that’s not important.

Some Content Directors talk too much. You have to be a great listener. Talking too much clouds your judgement & you miss important clues that the audience is giving you.

I once worked with a Content Director who thought that he alone had to be the source of all the great ideas for their radio station. As leading U.S. programmer Tracy Johnson once said “Great leaders get more out of their troops by shining the spotlight & giving credit & kudos to the staff”.

Another Content Director used to have a secret music category with all his favourite songs in it. (The ones that didn’t test but he loved them anyway) He would take the category off air when the Group Programmers arrived in his market. I know this because his music director told me about it years later. Talk about a lack of good judgement on his part.

What is great judgement?

For me It’s all about the execution of Strategy & Innovation & being able to recognize a great idea whether it’s yours or not.

It’s also embracing the ‘Sharpening the Saw’ principle from Stephen Covey’s book, ‘The 7 habits of Highly Effective People’ which Scott Muller & Brad March pointed out in their excellent article ‘The Future of Branding & Marketing’ (see here).

Remember that radio stations are either getting better or getting worse. Being the same is not an option.

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