Pick your Battles

When I first became a Program Director I had a lot to learn about people management. It was an incredible learning curve, moving from being an on air announcer to an executive position.

Not only did I have to lead the programming staff & help them achieve the ratings goals the station demanded but also deal with other executives who had personal agendas & games to play.


One such executive, let’s call him Dave, had rebuilt the studios with expensive high end turntables. Every turntable had a very sensitive cartridge & stylus. An audiophile would have loved the quality of sound coming from this high performance equipment. This was long before digital storage & all the music for the radio station was vinyl so typically a studio had 2 to 3 turntables to play the songs in the form of 45s.

Unfortunately the equipment was so sensitive that every second or third song would jump much to the annoyance of the audience & to the programming staff. Dave blamed the announcers, accusing them of being too rough with the turntable styluses.

I was getting hammered at the weekly management meetings over this. I protested that it was the fault of the equipment, but to no avail. Dave & the Managing Director were having none of it. I knew I couldn’t win this argument. I had to come up with a solution. I decided that the only way forward was to cart every song in the universe & not use the turntables.

Dave‘s other bone of contention was over the work output from the main production studio.  He had installed a tracker that measured the amount of time the reel to reel recorder was being used.

The Production Manager was furious when I told him what was going on. My advice to him was to keep his cool & to keep the tape rolling when he was in the studio. In doing so I negated Dave’s attacks.

The two important management lessons I learnt very early on was that it’s important to pick your battles & to work for a boss who really understands radio.


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

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