Overcoming The Challenge of Hiring Strong Managers


(By Laurie Kahn) Many mid-size and local broadcasters face a much more difficult job when it comes to replacing or adding a new manager to their team. The perfect scenario is to grow organically and promote from within, however that is not always an option. 

It used to be a given that to grow your career you would need to relocate. However, the reality is today that is becoming rarer. With dual income families, it is often not an option unless one of the spouses is able to work remotely or to find another job in the new community with the same level of income as they currently earn. In many cases, parents or other family members, take on day-to-day tasks to help with the kids, which also can eliminate the possibility of relocating. Often we have someone accept a new position, only to back out when the spouse realizes they cannot find proper employment. It happens all the time. 

If you live in a highly desirable area, it can help, but think about the difficulty of finding someone to relocate to a market that has the opposite reputation? We get a lot of calls in the winter from job seekers wanting to move to the southwest or to Florida. We rarely get calls from those who want to move to a cold area. 

So in many cases, those owners find themselves needing to look outside the company and often outside of the market. How can they compete?

First of all, be realistic about what their role is, what skills are needed, and what it will cost to hire and retain. Today, the job market is extremely competitive, there is a major war for talent so it is important to have your facts correct to budget the right amount to attract the right talent. You may need to get creative when developing a compensation package. 

Talking to others in the region to find out if they have had a similar job open, which was filled in the past six months, can get you a better idea of what it will take to succeed. If they hired prior to that date, their data could be outdated. We track our open positions and have a good handle on going rates for managers by market size, and when we speak with potential clients they almost always think that by offering a low compensation package with high incentives it is a generous offer, but honestly, it just won’t work in trying to attract candidates. 

We have owners who want someone to join the company to manage their sales team while building a list of accounts to help cover their pay. We all know how long it takes to learn a market, prospect and build an account list, so why would you ask a new manager to do that while trying to build your team to increase revenue? Their focus would not be in the right place. Not to mention that at this level, many managers have not had to go out and build a list recently so they may see this as a demotion. Consider building a list of easy-to-manage house accounts to offer to the new manager if carrying a list will be part of their duties. 

If more money is an obstacle, think of other ways to entice someone to relocate and join your team. Perhaps offering a car, club memberships, paying 100% of family benefits, or even offering a signing bonus will help sweeten the deal. Consider your cost of living; can they purchase a home as nice as the one they are leaving? Find out what is important to the person you have identified to join your team. Many companies today are offering down payments on homes, paying off student loans, and other creative solutions to fill a position. 

If you foresee a need for a new manager, do your homework. Find out what is realistic TODAY to attract and hire. Don’t continue to think like you have in the past. It will cause your hiring time to extend, in which case you lose time in replacing that position.

Laurie Kahn is the creator and founder of Media Staffing Network. She has worked with media companies since 1993 helping them hire top managers and sellers.


  1. I’m not buying the idea that any great number of manager jobs are really out there. Unless you want to live in St. Louis. And Radio Rick’ski, I hear you, however if you actually know too much they’ll be insecure because you might take their job. You learn a lot in 35 years.

  2. The best managers are people who’ve been in the trenches…had to make a sale, meet a payroll, work on a ground system or write copy…all at one time ie: small market radio owners. My dad always told me that if you are going to own or manage a business you’d better be able to do every job in that business and do it well….so if you’ve been in radio for 40+ years and aren’t nuts, maybe you could be a good GM?

  3. GMs are a dime a dozen, I’ve seen ex-shoe salesman and used car sales guys @ the helm.
    THEN they equate a transistor with a transmitter, have NEVER been to the tower sites, and
    complain about wires. They’ve got their Caddie or Jag in the GM parking spot tho!


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