(By Kelly Orchard) So you want to own your own radio station. The first question I would ask is: Why? That is not to imply that I think it’s a bad idea, but what is the motivation and vision that drive you to want to own a radio station? Before forging ahead, I strongly encourage you to consider these 10 pointers.
1. Get your ducks in a row. This quest will have a significant effect on every aspect of your life. Be certain your passion is fortified by diligence. The “contemplation stage” is important. However, in addition to asking yourself why you want to do this, now is the time to get your personal and professional affairs in order.
2. Explore NABEF’s Broadcast Leadership Training program. If you truly want to own your own station, this program is the ultimate “how-to” for broadcast station acquisitions. It is a yearlong, MBA-style program that will provide you with the education, tools, resources, and contacts you need, plus a support system to get you to your destination.
3. Start visualizing/manifesting. If you can’t visualize your goal, you’ll never make it a reality. This is where most people get stuck. As a psychotherapist and performance coach, one of my core tools for every client is to practice visualization, whether to manifest success in business and relationships or to reduce stress and anxiety. If you don’t keep your eye on the prize, you’ll never get out of the starting gate. Visualization is a proven technique in psychotherapy and coaching, to aid in getting you to the desired outcome, which for you would be to own a radio station. (For further information on the benefits of visualization, here is a good article from Psychology Today.)
4. Research all aspects of operations. What department in the radio industry do you know the most about? Are you from the programming side or the sales side? Or maybe your experience is mainly on the engineering side of broadcast. To be a successful owner, you must have knowledge of all aspects of operations. I’ve spoken with many radio professionals from different areas of operations who have a strong desire to own their own station — yes, the spark is ignited! — but if you’re going to be an effective operator, you have to be both passionate and informed about the overall business.
5. Subscribe to all industry trade publications.
Keep up-to-date in all areas of the industry. Many of these publications are offered through digital distribution, and although subscribing to all of them may blow up your in-box, you’ll develop a broad knowledge of the state of the industry, what the FCC is doing, which formats are the hottest, and who the movers and shakers are, and you’ll gain great tools for success. You can never go wrong by subscribing to knowledge.
6. Get involved in state associations and start networking. Your state associations, the RAB, and other radio-specific organizations will provide you with myriad opportunities. Whether you need educational materials or connections to people and resources, you must broaden your influence.
7. Find a mentor for counsel and advice. A good mentor will encourage you with their wisdom and experience. How do you identify a mentor? Ask someone you admire and respect if they would be willing to mentor you. By choosing the appropriate mentor(s), you will develop and grow exponentially. But be careful not to confuse a mentor with a coach. Their roles are not the same. Here’s a link that will help you understand the difference: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ellevate/ 2015/10/15/the- difference-between-a-coach-anda-mentor/#7d7e9cbb7556
8. Hire a business/personal growth coach to help with focus, resources, and accountability. Every successful athlete and team has a good coach. Most successful business entrepreneurs credit a coach with helping them stay focused and meet goals, keeping them accountable and pushing them to the greatness they’ve achieved. Hire a coach to help you achieve your goals. You cannot go wrong.
9. Practice self-care. Stress hormones will wreak havoc on your body, increasing the risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and even depression. Take care of yourself!
10. Don’t “marry” a specific deal. A deal can fall through quickly. If station ownership is truly your dream, don’t get too attached to the deal you are currently trying to put together. Open yourself up to other possibilities. Radio station ownership will be a worthwhile endeavor if you give serious consideration to the reason you want to be an owner, have a clear mission and vision, and learn everything you can about the process.
In addition to more than 30 years in broadcasting, Kelly Orchard has a Master’s in psychology and a Bachelor’s in social science, with an emphasis in organizational leadership. She’s a 2008 graduate of the NABEF Broadcast Leadership Training Program and an FCC compliance specialist. Reach her at [email protected].