Mike Tarter. One of Radio’s Top 20 Leaders


    It’s a small club but it includes 20 of the best people in radio. On Monday, Radio Ink‘s newest list will be unveiled — The 20 Best Leaders in Radio. This list was chosen by the radio industry. In an extremely exciting and close vote, that included about 50 people when we first started, thousands of votes were cast on our website to help decide the final 20 names that will appear in Radio Ink Magazine next week.

    Some of the positive comments made about these leaders when the votes were flying in would make them blush, maybe even well up. We think we hit one out of the park with this new ranked list and we think you will as well once you see how everyone stacked up. One of the people that made that list (although we are not giving away his ranking) was Mike Tarter, President and CEO of Forcht Broadcasting. Here’s why…

    Broker and friend Ed Henson tells Radio Ink: “Mike is an exceptional leader. No matter the situation, he strives to be supportive and understanding of the people he’s leading, while building on the positive. Mike is quick to help his industry through trade associations on a state and national level. Mike is just the right person to be President of Forcht Broadcasting.”

    Radio Ink: What does it take to be a strong leader in the radio industry today?
    Mike Tarter: Show that you truly care about your people. Encourage them, mentor them. Lead by example. Listen to your people. Value their ideas and opinions. Be passionate about the industry. Always be willing to learn, stay current, and be innovative.

    Radio Ink: How have you been able to get people to work so hard for you, to want to succeed for you?
    Mike Tarter: I hope by showing that I generally care about them and their success. Doing all I can to help them individually and their stations. By listening to their ideas and trying to implement their ideas whenever possible. Allowing them to take “ownership” of the stations in their market and by not trying to micro-manage them.

    Radio Ink: How have you put yourself in a position throughout your career to lead people successfully? What did you do to educate yourself along the way?
    Mike Tarter: I have always tried to treat people as I wanted to be treated. I have tried to create trusting relationships with the people I have worked with and for. Just trying to emulate the strong leaders I have worked for and have seen. I have had the great fortune to have learned the radio business and leadership from tremendous broadcasters including Nolan Kenner, Ed Henson, Ray Holbrook, and Terry Forcht. In terms of education, I have tried to learn about all aspects of the business. Sales, programming, on-air, even IT and engineering. Attending as many training sessions, conventions, and seminars as possible has been extremely valuable. Networking with other broadcasters is also important.

    Radio Ink: What advice do you have for others who strive to be a strong leader like yourself?
    Mike Tarter: Learn as much as you can about the industry. Be passionate about radio.

    Mike Tarter
    Mike Tarter

    Never stop trying to learn about every aspect of the industry and its advancements. Treat everyone with respect and be honest. Allow your experiences to help you teach and instruct. Let others you lead know that you understand what they are experiencing and that you can help. Try to make a difference in your company and community. Be involved. Encourage your team, praise them when they do well, and remember, nice matters.

    Radio Ink: Millennials are said to have more in common with baby boomers than Gen-Xers in terms of mindset, goals, and aspirations. How do you bridge the gap between Gen-X managers and millennial employees?
    Mike Tarter: If you have strong, smart Gen-X managers, they will know enough about the industry and its constant changes to appreciate the input of millennial employees. The Gen-Xers’ experience in the business can help millenials navigate finding a balance between radio history, radio present, and radio’s future.

    Radio Ink: Leaders lead by example. In today’s 24/7 connected world, how do you balance work and a personal life—and encourage employees to do the same?
    Mike Tarter: It is a tough balance. I try not to take home the issues, stress, and problems that occur at work. You do need to disconnect from work and that is very difficult at times. I encourage employees to take their vacation time and look for ways to spend time away. The difficulty is not to ask too much of employees who are more than willing to take on more work or projects. We want them to be involved in their church, civic clubs, hobbies, and family life.

    Radio Ink: How do you feel about the overall leadership in the radio industry today?
    Mike Tarter: There are many strong, visionary leaders in our industry today. If we continue to focus on our advertisers and listeners and adapt to new innovation and technology, the future will be bright. We need more servant leadership in the industry. Radio still reaches 92% of Americans each week. We have a powerful message to tell and we need to continue to do that.

    Reach out to Mike Tarter, one of the 20 Best Leaders in Radio, by e-mail at [email protected]

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