Anyone Else Would Have Been Fired

If Radio were a company whose share of market remained in the single-digit zone against weak competitors for as long as ours has, the board would’ve long ago forced us to reinvent ourselves, to hire someone to identify the problem and then to execute dramatic change.

Perhaps grubbing for the crumbs that fall off the media table has been good enough for Radio. Our consolidated owners continue to grow, and I suppose that keeps Wall Street happy — for the moment. But Radio’s “growth” is coming from budget cuts and tight management, not from getting a higher percentage of the total advertising pie. Owners aren’t likely to pay attention to the need for Radio’s share-of-ad-budget growth until it becomes the only alternative left for growing their companies. By then, it will likely be too late.

I’m not so delusional as to think that Radio will displace broadcast television and cable TV to become the leader in nabbing electronic advertising expenditures. I just know we’re a much stronger medium than we get credit for, and we can do much better.

I believe we can get a respectable 20 percent, instead of a pathetic 7 or 8. But I don’t think Radio believes it.

I know in my heart that Wal-Mart, America’s largest retailer, could use long-term Radio to significantly strengthen its brand in the hearts of Americans, but Wal-Mart doesn’t believe it. According to Cult Branding author B.J. Bueno, the problem is that Wal-Mart and other corporate giants believe Radio’s ill-advised sales pitch that it is primarily a transactional medium, rather than a relational or “brand-building” medium. What are we doing to change the minds of America’s corporate giants? Nothing! We haven’t even corrected our faulty presentation!

Those of us in Radio know that well-executed Radio strategies get incredible results. The problem is that advertisers don’t believe us, which means we have a marketing problem. Because we’re too close to it, we need to tap the best minds in marketing to help us solve our image problems. What will be the Master Marketing Plan to change Radio’s image in the minds of advertisers? When will we demand that Radio focus its strength on curing this deadly disease called Apathy?

Frankly, I’m tired of screaming. So I’m making it my mission to develop a plan to solve the problem. That’s why, in early 2004, Roy Williams, BJ Bueno and I will be hosting a small, invitation-only conference of Radio’s boldest brains to explore what can be done to help Radio find the land of milk and honey. If you are as passionate about this as I am, and feel that you have a solution or know how to find one, tell me; and I’ll carry your message to the hilltop. Ultimately, we’re all in this together. If you’re sick and tired of eating leftovers, your commitment to change will be imperative.

Or are you okay with not getting what you deserve?

12/08/03 Radio Ink Magazine. By B. Eric Rhoads

By |2005-02-04T02:55:43-05:00February 4th, 2005|Radio|0 Comments

In Search Of The World’s Rarest Car

Just to mess with the car salesman’s head, I threw out an obvious buying signal. “Does it come in silver?”

“Would you like one in silver?”

“Yes, I believe I would, but only if I can get it equipped exactly how I’d like.”

“I’m sure that won’t be problem. Follow me inside, and we’ll write it up.”

This is where it gets interesting. Once inside, he whipped out his Montblanc and slid a bid sheet out of his desk. Pen poised above it, he looked at me over the rims of his glasses. “Now, what would you like on it?”

“Oh, it’s what I don’t want on it that matters. I’d like it without a Radio of any kind.”
Chin up. Pen down. With an invisible question mark glowing above his head, he asked, “No Radio?”

“I’ll buy it only if I can get it without a Radio.”

“I’ll be right back.”

I could see laughter and a puzzled expression through the glass as the manager furtively glanced my way. Another salesperson overheard the conversation and said, “What is he, some kind of nut?” (Salespeople often talk louder than they know.) A few minutes later, my man returned.

“How about if we don’t charge you for the Radio?” He laid a duplicate window sticker in front of me and dramatically penned a thin blue line through the Radio’s description and price. “We’ll leave the Radio in it, not charge you for it, and you can just leave it turned off. How about it?”

“Nope. Someone riding with me would always turn it on.”

“We’ll have it disconnected.”

“Then everyone would think my new car was broken. Nope,” I said firmly, “I don’t want a Radio in it at all.”

“I’ll be right back.” And Mr. Montblanc barged down the hallway toward Parts & Service. A few minutes later, he came back, looking irritated. “I’m sorry, Mr. Rhoads, but the factory doesn’t manufacture any kind of cover plate to cover the hole left by a missing Radio. And they assure me that no other manufacturer supplies one. How can we work through this?”

If you’re ever really bored and looking for a cheap thrill, drop in to the nearest car dealer and try to buy a new car without a Radio. It simply cannot be done. You can buy a car without air conditioning, but you can’t buy one without a Radio. It’s standard equipment, because the public is no more likely to request a car without a Radio than they would a car without tires.

Ninety-one percent of all the cars on the road contain only one person. A car is a Radio on wheels.

Viacom/Infinity’s Mel Karmazin once told a group of analysts that Radio’s growth is tied to America’s increased traffic. Consumers stuck in cars are a captive audience. National advertisers buy Radio in the most highly populated cities, which also happen to have the biggest traffic problems. Big-city commuters spend vast amounts of time in their “Radios on wheels.” Commuting from my suburban home to my San Francisco office, I spend three hours a day in my car — sometimes on the cell phone or listening to CDs, but mostly listening to the Radio.

A car is a metal box in which brands are established and sales are made. You hold the keys to one of the most powerful marketing tools ever invented. A nation trapped in a “Radio on wheels” is a powerful selling opportunity. Now go sell it.

01/05/04  Radio Ink Magazine. By B. Eric Rhoads

By |2005-02-04T02:52:04-05:00February 4th, 2005|Radio|2 Comments

The Great Airwaves Debate

Radio thinks that satellite Radio is the enemy. Current thinking is that we [Radio] should not run their ads and should do everything within our power to keep them from succeeding. News Alert: Even Radio’s enormous power cannot stop or slow the adoption of satellite Radio. Why fight it?

I hear Radio people talking from both sides of their mouths. “Don’t help them succeed; don’t run their spots,” they say from one side while the other side says, “They won’t succeed anyway; why would people pay for Radio when they can get it for free?” News Alert: People will pay to NOT hear commercials if we exceed their commercial tolerance levels. Naysayers also point out the small number of satellite subscribers as an indication that this is a service only for the elite and is doomed.

The first commercial Radio station, KDKA, went on the air in 1920. With its launch was an ad in the Pittsburg paper for Kaufman’s department store, selling the first kits for consumers to build their own Radio receivers. The kit was $20, which would be equivalent to today’s thousands charged for a plasma TV. Radio began as a service for the elite. In the first five years, almost no sets were sold, but by 1930, everyone in America had a Radio. Mark my words: Every car in America will have satellite Radio within 10 years. Within three years, satellite Radio will be a standard feature on new cars (along with HD Radio for AM and FM). Subscription will be optional but built into lease payments, making it invisible.

Radio people are deluding themselves by thinking that local Radio is better than national and that Sirius or XM cannot and will not succeed. Can your local TV station produce a local Jay Leno or David Letterman with the same quality? National wins on television, and it is likely to win on Radio as well. Talk Radio is proof of national Radio success, with Stern, Limbaugh, Dr. Laura, Hannity, Savage and others. Radio will lose listeners to satellite Radio on the music side because it has no commercials and, in some cases, has better programming.

I have satellite Radio in my car, and I use it a lot. I also frequent local stations for traffic news and weather, but I find myself listening to the satellite Radio more and more because of its variety and lack of commercials. It is notable that XM plans to use local repeaters to offer local services.

Satellite Radio is probably not a threat for advertising. Though XM currently has more subscribers, Sirius is the buzz on college campuses. Kids are opting to pay more for Sirius because it does not have commercials on any music channel. XM caught on and just made a similar announcement. The big win for the satellite guys is the non-commercial world. Consider USA Today vs. local papers — each has different advertisers. Did you know that, as of this writing, Sirius is the highest volume stock traded on Wall Street?

It is exciting that a Radio company trades more shares than any other company on Wall Street. Why are we as an industry ignoring them? We should embrace them as one of our own. They are creating new interest in Radio. Their very presence will get non-Radio advertisers excited about Radio; and all Radio will benefit, lifting the tide of all Radio advertising. This was proven in the United Kingdom when local Radio tried to stop national Radio. In the end, Radio billing went up because national Radio brought new interest to all Radio, including local.

Satellite Radio IS a threat to Radio listening, especially music formats. Radio is driving people to satellite Radio. We need to be better — digital, better programmed with localism that no one can reproduce — not just because of satellite Radio but because listening is eroding. What can you do?

1. No Radio station in America should end 2004 without converting to digital HD Radio. The world is digital, and Radio is not. This is insane.
2. Music Radio stations must cut their spot loads and charge more. If you don’t do it now, you’ll be forced into it later. Satellite radio places a magnifying glass on radio’s overt commercial policy.
3. Focus again on localism and creativity. Now is the time to build or reinforce listener loyalty. Now is the time to invest in programming.
4. Ask yourself what you can offer that no one else locally or on satellite can offer. Do that thing, and market it heavily.
5. Start marketing again. Most stations do not promote outside our medium. You tell advertisers to do it, yet you do not. Practice what you preach.
6. Invest in youth. Advertisers do not give us incentives to create youth-oriented stations. The young, therefore, do not listen as much, because there is little targeted to them. Those young non-listeners won’t suddenly become Radio fans when they become part of the 25-34 demos. If you don’t win them today, you won’t have them tomorrow.

Satellite Radio may be the best motivator for making Radio great again. They are not the enemy. They will share some listening, as do other stations in the market share, but local Radio will still be very viable — that is, if we strive for greatness in our product.

02/23/04  Radio Ink Magazine. By B. Eric Rhoads

By |2005-02-04T02:49:40-05:00February 4th, 2005|Radio|0 Comments

03/08/04 Have You Discovered Your Purpose On Earth?
I recently attended the funeral of Charlie Willer, one of my dearest lifelong friends. As I prepared my thoughts to speak at his memorial service, I realized the impact this one man had on my life: Without his efforts, everything in my life would be different. Charlie introduced me to radio as a career; without that introduction, I could still be welding cement-truck bodies in an Indiana factory (and there would be no Radio Ink). He also introduced me to my wife and many of my closest friends. His life — his very purpose — was about putting people together and helping them see their God-given talents.

This issue of Radio Ink is focused on the 35 Most Influential African-Americans in Radio and on the Bayliss Foundation Roast. Neither of these features would have occurred if it were not for people who were fulfilling their purpose.

John Bayliss was a legend in this industry. Bayliss was such an influencer, such an innovator, and such a quality broadcaster that, upon his death, the entire industry stood up to honor him with a scholarship foundation in his name. Scores of deserving college students have received educations and entered broadcasting as a result of John’s influence. This great man is still making a difference.

Years ago, I received a call from a college student, who befriended me and then went on to chastise me for not giving enough coverage to the African-American radio community. He convinced me to do the right thing, and we immediately started to make changes in the magazine. More than a decade later, Sherman Kizart continues to stay in my face, making sure we do not let up our coverage. Radio Ink’s annual African-American list is the result of one man’s effort.

For the past eight years, Sherman has worked for Interep and has developed many innovative programs for them, for the radio industry, for the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters and for Radio Ink. His recent promotion to vice president at Interep and his appointment to the FCC’s Diversity Advisory Committee now make him one of the most influential people in African-American radio. His efforts have changed the visibility and acceptance of urban radio throughout the industry, and the impact will be felt in the lives of millions of listeners.

Each of these people is a hero in my eyes. Each is proof that one person can make a difference, with an impact on people’s lives and on an entire industry. Most great people don’t set out to become great; they merely follow their conscience and do what must be done. Nothing gets in their way, and nothing intimidates them. Their passion is strong, and their will cannot be broken. They never assume that it’s someone else’s responsibility to make change.

What do you passionately believe in? And what are you doing about it? How will you be remembered by your friends, your colleagues and your peers?

3/08/04 Radio Ink Magazine. By B. Eric Rhoads

By |2005-02-04T02:46:25-05:00February 4th, 2005|Radio|2 Comments

03/22/04 The Perfect Couple

One well-kept secret of this industry is that Radio Ink is not the only magazine I write for. Though I write for other magazines I own, I also write for one magazine I do not own. I write marketing columns for Dealer magazine, which goes to most of the car dealers in America.

I began my relationship with this publication when I encountered Jim Ziglar while waiting for my luggage in the lobby of our Roy Williams show in Atlantic City. Ziglar is the top sales consultant for the car-dealer industry, and he is Dealer magazine’s top writer. As we chatted, I told him that automotive advertising is radio’s biggest local advertising category and that, though dealers and dealer groups spend a lot of money, most are doing it wrong. I explained that they could be getting more sales and more customers with the money they spend — and that got his attention. Next thing I knew, I was a columnist for that publication.

Car buyers fall into one of two categories: relational (those who relate to or look for something that satisfies a need or dream) or transactional (those who look for best price and check out multiple dealers). Though there are more transactional buyers, relational buyers pay higher prices. Therefore, dealers who focus on relational business make higher profits and get the lion’s share of business.

Unfortunately, only a few dealers in America understand this concept and practice it. For instance, the biggest BMW dealer in the world is in Los Angeles. It’s not the biggest just because it’s in Los Angeles (which has many dealers); it’s the biggest because it is focused on relationships, instead of transactions. You won’t hear screaming car ads shouting prices and deals. Instead, you hear relationship building.

When people in L.A. are in the market for a luxury car or specifically a BMW, they always go to this dealer first, because they are focused on an experience that satisfies their needs or dreams, rather than on price. Though this is an over-simplification of a complex selling situation, dealers who follow this practice will outsell those who shout and scream about price. Transactional buyers are harder to get and harder to sell, and they are less desirable to a business. I am able to show dealers how to increase their business dramatically by simply altering their focus.

We’ve all heard Detroit Radio Advertising Group President/COO Bill Burton’s line: “A car is a radio with four wheels.” In today’s environment, the match between cars and radio is growing. Traffic in most metropolitan areas has exploded almost exponentially over the last 10 years, and the trend promises to continue. Time spent in the car is increasing, which means that radio listening in cars will also increase. Is it any wonder that car dealerships are radio’s biggest spenders? They know that, when people need a new car, the dealership can talk to them while they are still driving the old car. Radio and car dealers match perfectly.

This issue of Radio Ink is a first — it’s intended not only as information for you, our readers, but also as a piece that you can hand to a local car dealer to inform him or her about radio. We’ve highlighted some of Detroit’s biggest automotive players who are big fans of radio. We hope you enjoy it.

3/22/04 Radio Ink Magazine. By B. Eric Rhoads

By |2005-02-04T02:34:02-05:00February 4th, 2005|Radio|0 Comments

Radio Got Busted

I tried to bluff my dad, and I got busted. Forty years later, Radio tried to bluff the American people, and we got busted.

Rain pounded against the glass as I gazed at the fierce thunderstorm, wishing I could be outside. My bicycle was lying on the sidewalk in a pool of water. No problem until I saw my dad’s car coming. I scampered into the rain, opened the garage door, grabbed my bike and shoved it into the dry garage. I didn’t think my father saw me; he was still pretty far down the road.

“Did you leave your bike in the rain, son?”

With fingers crossed, I said, “No, sir.”

“You know the rule: If you leave your bike in the rain, I take it away.”

I insisted I brought it in before the deluge, but a quick trip to the garage proved otherwise, and I lost my bicycling privileges. I had been given a responsibility — and now I was busted.

Radio left its bike in the rain and tried to pull it in before Dad got home. Though we knew right from wrong, we pushed until the edge of the envelope became invisible. We were outside it and tried to pretend we weren’t. One station tried to out-smut the other because smut sells, and this is a business driven by revenues. We began reining ourselves in only when the government slapped our hands. “Bike? Rain? Oh, we forgot. Sorry, Dad.”

The FCC has been wimpish for the last 15 years and did not live up to its responsibilities. Then Justin Timberlake ripped the breast covering from Janet Jackson and exposed the American media’s inability to police itself. Thank you, Justin. We needed that.

Congress has allowed the media to do what we wanted; legislators got religion only when the FCC was exposed to the disgust of angry voters in an election year. So, who is to blame? None of us corrected the problem until we got caught — not the broadcasters, not the FCC and not Congress. That’s a bunch of wet bikes, friends.

I’m not big on Congress’ stepping in to police the industry, but we showed the American public that we would definitely do whatever it took to build ratings and revenues. We proved that we cannot be trusted. I said “we.” I didn’t write any editorials about it until after the fact. I’m as guilty as you are.

I believe the increase in fines was the right thing to do. The previous fines had been less money than Mel Karmazin spends on dry cleaning each year. Paying them had no more impact than a $150 speeding ticket has on Bill Gates; yet even these levels of fines soon will not be enough. Only ripping away the broadcast licenses of a property worth $500 million will get and keep the industry’s attention.

Radio has been highlighted in national news and has been the focus of congressional probes. A few irresponsible broadcasters have polluted the preciously good image of an industry mostly made of responsible people.

Just last week, a major national advertiser told me: “Once the headlines about radio hit, we immediately pulled all our radio advertising. We can no longer be associated with the medium known for disgusting and vile content.”

We’ve been painted with a broad brush, becoming known for the vile content of a few irresponsible license-holders who are “becoming responsible” only when they have been busted. We left our bike in the rain. I can only hope that Papa Congress loves this country enough to take away a few bikes.

4/12/04 Radio Ink Magazine. By B. Eric Rhoads

By |2005-02-04T02:33:11-05:00February 4th, 2005|Radio|0 Comments

04/26/04 Radio’s Unsung Heroes

It was 1 a.m. Startled, I stared blearily at the ringing phone that had blasted me from a cozy dream. My mind staggered through disastrous scenarios: dead relatives, crippling auto accidents, a deejay to be bailed out of jail.

“Hello,” I croaked fearfully. The chief engineer on the line needed someone to accompany him to the transmitter site. His usual assistants were not answering their phones, so he called me, the station owner. Wanting to be a team player, I agreed.

While I slept, a major snowstorm had hit the area. Winds were gusting to 50 mph, the power was off, the generator had failed, and we were off the air. In my warmest clothes, I drove through blinding snow, meeting the CE at the base of the mountain.

It was one of those nights you did not want to be out in a car, but we took his four-wheel-drive up the mountain as far as the snow would permit us. Then we hopped on a snowmobile. Snow blinded us as it accumulated on our facemasks. Heavy snow also meant driving the snowmobile as fast as we could go until, every few minutes, we had to hop off and wade through waist-high snow to unjam the snowmobile and start again. Cliffs with 100-foot drops invited disaster at every corner.

Two-and-a-half hours later — the last 20 minutes on snowshoes — we arrived at the mountaintop transmitter building. We had to shovel six feet of snow with our hands because it had covered the door. We looked like frantic dogs digging for a lost bone.

I cannot recall ever being colder in my life. An annoying and difficult trip in the summer under perfect conditions, this snowy, miserable trip was one of those nightmares you never forget. I could not wait for it to be over, although I could not bear the thought of the trip down.

There was no heat or light in the building, but for the next two hours, we worked on the generator. Our hands were so cold we could hardly grip the ice-cold wrenches. Finally, the generator turned over, and we were back on the air. The generator’s roar reverberated inside the small cement building, but it was music to my ears, representing hope that we could get out of this God-forsaken place! But the generator kept sputtering off, and we had to baby-sit until the power came back on. Ever try to nap on a cold hard floor with the roar of machinery and the stink of diesel fumes? We tore into canned rations sent up after the engineer and another man had been stranded at the transmitter four days. Hours passed. Finally, the generator stabilized, the power came back on, and we headed for home.

Not every station has a transmitter in a remote mountain location. Still, climbing towers, being wakened in the middle of the night, working around high voltage is demanding, often dangerous work. It takes a rare breed. Our engineer made that mountain trip 11 times a winter and never complained. Yet he kept us on the air and always dropped everything so we could play rock ’n’ roll records 24/7.

Engineers are of another world. They often act differently, have their own language, and work on concepts we cannot begin to understand. Their sacrifices are great, yet they often are taken for granted. Thank goodness for people willing to do what these men and women do. They are indeed the unsung heroes of the radio business.

Have you hugged your engineer today?

4/26/04 Radio Ink Magazine. By B. Eric Rhoads

By |2005-02-04T02:32:13-05:00February 4th, 2005|Radio|0 Comments

How The FCC Should Determine Fines

Legend has it that traffic along Highway 101 in San Francisco was creeping at a snail’s pace, and the only cars moving right along were those in the commuter lane. Suddenly, a red Rolls Royce convertible zipped by in the commuter lane. A motorcycle cop pulled the Rolls over to give the driver a ticket for driving without passengers in the commuter lane. The driver turned out to be Larry Ellison, chairman of Oracle.

According also to legend, this is almost a daily occurrence for Ellison, who would rather pay a couple hundred bucks in fines each time he gets caught than waste his time in traffic. After all, this billionaire’s time is probably worth tens of thousands of dollars per hour. The $200 fine may be a big deal to an average citizen, but it’s not much money to someone with a huge bank account.

In Sweden, the police could not control the problem of speeding because wealthy violators would pay the fines and continue to speed. When legislators examined the problem, they realized that fines would not stop people unless the fine was proportionate to the income bracket of the person violating the law. Therefore, the government began basing fines on the income of the person speeding.

The police have a database of income levels that are entered into a formula that involves a combination of income and severity of crime. Violations less than 12 mph over the limit mean a fixed fee in the $400-$600 range, but violations more than 12 mph above the limit kick the fine into a percentage of net income. In one example, a well-known hockey player was caught speeding on two occasions. In one case, he was going 14 mph over the speed limit and was fined $71,400; in the other case, he was fined $44,100.

The U.S. Congress thinks it is solving a problem by increasing indecency fines by 10 times, but this system is seriously flawed. For instance, a small-market broadcaster would be put out of business by a fine of $500,000, which may be many times his annual profitability — it could be more than the value of his entire property. On the other hand, a company such as Viacom could pay many $500,000 fines and probably wouldn’t even flinch.

Fines, therefore, should be based on a formula that takes into account the financial capacity of the company violating the law. Fines are intended to make people think twice before breaking the law. If the fine is of no financial significance, paying it becomes an inconvenience, rather than a financial hardship. Unless there is true financial hardship, these indecency fines are nothing more than the cost of doing business, and violations will continue.

5/10/04 Radio Ink Magazine. By B. Eric Rhoads

By |2005-02-04T02:31:20-05:00February 4th, 2005|Radio|0 Comments

A Life Of Its Own

One of my personal passions has been finding ways to recognize and elevate the efforts of effective professional women in the radio industry. I’m not a feminist, but I recognize talent, and it frustrates me when strong talent is not recognized within its own industry or organization. I’m not suggesting promotion of women because they are women; I want opportunity for the many women who struggle for well-deserved promotions.

For the progressive industry we pretend to be, we’re not progressive enough. Why are most leadership positions within radio still male-dominated? Why are most programming positions still male-dominated? Though our industry has a much higher percentage of women in sales and sales management, their promotion to GM or market manager is embarrassingly rare.

We are not alone. Hollywood has hailed the successes of female directors such as Nancy Meyers (who has two radio people in her family), Jodie Foster, Penny Marshall and others, but Hollywood isn’t much more progressive than radio. According to a study by Martha M. Lauzen, a San Diego State professor who studies the role of women in film and TV, women directed 7 percent of the top-grossing 100 films released in 2000. (In a sample of the top 250 films, the percentage was a little higher, at 11 percent.) The U.S. Senate is more progressive than Hollywood: 14 of 100 senators are women (see
In her book The Natural Advantages of Women (Wizard Academy Press), author Michelle Miller presents scientific evidence that the female brain is considerably different from the male brain. She offers proof that women are not only “hard-wired” differently than men, but that they also have the ability to use this “wiring” to great advantage in their personal and professional lives. For instance, the tissue connecting the left and right hemispheres of the female brain is thicker and denser, meaning that women have stronger connections between left and right brain. Her evidence also indicates that women have 10 times more neuron connectors than men. The consequence is that women are more perceptive and more nurturing, and they have better intuition because they use both hemispheres. Men are typically analytical and more left-brained. The end result is that women approach management of people differently, and they approach product creation differently. It’s a mystery why the world (not just radio) does not embrace these differences and integrate them into our companies as advantages.

Since 1999, we have compiled this annual list of the Most Influential Women in Radio, recognizing women who make a difference within our industry. These women have demonstrated great leadership by forming a group (the MIWs) to make their own change by creating educational and mentoring programs. However, the list is also designed to highlight the companies that clearly support women in senior management roles. To the companies that dominate this list, we applaud you.

Let’s not stop there. We can ALL do more.

06/07/04 Radio Ink Magazine. By B. Eric Rhoads

By |2005-02-04T02:29:41-05:00February 4th, 2005|Radio|0 Comments

Don’t Wait — Go For It!

A year ago this month, we held our Roy Williams conference in Atlantic City. During the conference, a guy came up to me and said, “Mr. Rhoads, I’ve been wanting to meet you. I got your e-mails about this conference, and I paid my own way to be here. I just got into radio.” I learned that he had been a paramedic but felt he could not realize his life’s dreams, so he got a job selling radio.

“It was a disaster,” he told me. “I worked my butt off in that job for six months and got nowhere, so I quit radio and decided to do something else.” Somehow, he eventually hooked up with Bill Hazen, who suggested that, with some training, he could succeed at the Cumulus stations in Macon. “My first day on the job, he handed me the Roy Williams tapes and said, ‘This is all you need to know.’ I watched them all in three days.”

That same week, he said, he saw one of my e-mails for our Roy Williams conferences. “I ran into Bill’s office and asked if I could have the time off if I paid my own way to attend.” Two weeks later, Jeff Norman was in Atlantic City, listening to Roy. “I’ve got to tell you,” he said, “the tapes and the books are good, but seeing this in person, it all comes together.”
Six months later, Jeff contacted me and said that, by following Roy’s system, he had 26 annual contracts on the air and $1 million in billing. “This is my dream come true,” he said. “I’m going to make $150,000 this year, and I’m not done yet.”

I asked him to come to our Roy Williams conference in Austin, so I could tell his story to the crowd. He came, but when I brought him on stage and told his story about six months, 26 annuals and $1 million on the books, he corrected me and said billing at that point was close to $2 million after nine months.

During the Austin conference, I asked Jeff what he wanted to do with his career. “Macon is nice,” he said, “but I want to do bigger things. What would you recommend?” After probing for his goals, I told him that, with his talent and attitude, he could make the same hard work pay off in much bigger ways if he went to sell in a major market. “Let’s do it,” he said.

We thought that, based on his goals, Los Angeles was the best place, though he was a little reluctant, thinking that a country boy in the big city might not be well received. I reminded him that one of the most successful GMs in America, Roy Laughlin from KIIS, was originally a country boy from Alabama.

At Jeff’s request, I made introductions, and he met with most of the radio companies in Los Angeles. Several offered him jobs. As of this writing, Jeff starts in sales at KIIS in Los Angeles, and his goal is to be the top-billing ad rep in LA within three years. My guess is that he will do it in two. Did I mention that Jeff is 25?

I’m sharing this story, not so thousands of you will call me and ask for introductions to great jobs, but to illustrate that belief in oneself, great attitude and willingness to make instant change in your life can make a huge difference in your career. Jeff is a smart guy, but his success is found in his belief systems. He dares to challenge himself and take action, and he is not afraid of change. Jeff is an inspiration to others as well as me.

What are your dreams? What are you telling yourself you want to do? What self-talk is running through your head? What are you waiting for?

06/21/04 Radio Ink Magazine. By B. Eric Rhoads

By |2005-02-04T02:28:35-05:00February 4th, 2005|Radio|0 Comments
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