The Benefits of Finding the Right Mentor in Radio


During my 16 years at Austereo, I had the benefit of several great mentors and advisors.  One in particular was Greg Smith, who is now one of the Directors of Radio Today, and is a former Group Program Director of Austereo.


During my time at Austereo and, later, at the Australian Radio Network, I in turn had the chance to mentor and advise some great talent and executives.

If you’re just starting out or are well into your radio career, it’s worth finding someone who can mentor you. Someone who will take the time to coach and advise you as you progress through your radio career.

Here’s what to look for in a mentor in radio ……

Experience – a person who has experience in the same broad area of radio you are pursuing (e.g., programming, sales, IT/engineering, etc.).  They have been there and done that already.

Contacts – Someone who has the radio contacts and will share them with you.  Contacts in radio, as in any business, are invaluable.  Treat any that your mentor introduces you to as the precious gifts they are.


Knowledge – a person who has already done what you are setting out to achieve in radio will be able to guide and direct you.  Breadth and depth of knowledge are both important: a great mentor will be able to offer a wide range of perspectives (including perspectives that aren’t necessarily their own), and be able to back it up with a solid depth of knowledge.


Wisdom – someone who is happy to share their wisdom, their learnings from past experiences and also from mistakes.  A word of caution when seeking a mentor: it’s important to find a mentor who will share their wisdom gained from experience – and this means both good experiences and their failures.  Be wary the mentor who is only talking about their glory days* (and omitting any mention of the rest – the best learnings come from the biggest mistakes, after all!)  Some people may be more interested in having their ego indulged than in mentoring you.

* Also be wary the mentor who is talking more about themselves than about you.  You’re not mentoring them, after all!

Sounding Board – often we have the answers ourselves but just need a good sounding board to bounce off.  No matter how senior or experienced you are, it helps a lot to have someone to ‘bounce’ things around with – so imagine how important this is when you’re just starting off or only a few years into your career.

Perspective – a good mentor is able to put things into perspective for you. Often things are unclear for you, but a mentor can help ‘unravel ‘ a problem for you.  Often, when you’re in the thick of all the ‘noise and stuff’ going through your head, there’s no way of gaining clarity unless you’re looking at the problem disappearing into the distance in the rear-view mirror.  That’s the perspective that a mentor who has been through it all, and has helped others through it, can give you.

Positive reinforcement – sometimes all you need is positive feedback and reinforcement.  And sometimes you need to be firmly pushed, but in a respectful and supportive way.  This all comes down to finding a mentor you can trust.  If they’re not a person you can grow to trust (trust takes time, for both parties), then you won’t respect the positive reinforcement when it’s deserved, or the firm but supportive ‘push’ when it’s necessary.

Isolation – having a good mentor will help you by not feeling isolated, it can help create a feeling of a good partnership.  The importance of this can’t be overstated: when your head is buzzing with ‘foggy stuff’, it makes a big difference to know you’re not alone, that you have someone you can trust to hold a mirror up for you when needed, and that you have the support of someone who has been there, done that, and helped others do the same.  It can make the insurmountable suddenly seem like a walk down to the shops.

Finding a great mentor can make a huge difference in your radio career aspirations.

Scott Muller, from MBOS (and another Director of Radio Today) is a great example of a strong mentor and advisor.  He’s advised loads of great television and radio talent and executives in Australia, the UK, and Europe, and I can recommend him highly.

Good luck in finding the right mentor for your career, it could make all the difference to your radio career.


Brad March is a Director of Radio Today, is a former CEO and Group Program Director of Austereo and has been named Media Executive of the Year.



Comment Form

Your email address will not be published.

Recent comments (0)
Post new comment


See all