How To Succeed In Radio For 45 Years

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    As we reported Tuesday, Hubbard Seattle Market Manager Marc Kaye is retiring from radio after 45 years. It’s no simple task to be successful in this business for nearly 5 decades. Former Susquehanna CEO David Kennedy, a good friend and former colleague of Kaye, tells Radio Ink Marc had exactly what it took to be a winner. “As he looks back on his career, Marc is always kind to say that he’s been fortunate to work for the best.  I know he means it, but it’s we who’ve been the lucky ones.  As soon as you meet him, two things strike you…he’s all in for radio, and he’s great at what he does.  The passion, the enthusiasm and the experience all shine through. You can’t ask for much more than that.” Here’s our extended interview with one of Radio’s most successful managers.

    Radio Ink: Forty-five years. When you first got into radio did you think you would be as successful as you’ve become?
    Marc Kaye: No way. I think I have been very lucky to have had great tutors early on. Dave Kennedy and I grew up together in this business at Susquehanna. From there it was guys like Pete Schulte who taught me how to manage. Scott Shannon, Steve Rivers, Mason Dixon, Guy Zapoleon, who taught me what great programming was all about. Ginny Morris, the best person I have ever worked for in my 45 years, who reminded me it is possible to treat people fairly and kick some radio butt at the same time. With these people backing me, yes it is possible but not to the extent that my career is probably one of the most magnificent ever put together by any individual in the radio business since Marconi.
    Radio Ink: Did there ever come a time along the way as a manager where you thought, “Man the stress is too much.” And how did you deal with the stress of sales for so long?
    Marc Kaye: Stress is part of what we do, and since I was stupid enough to want to become a GM from day one, I have never been immune from the stress on both sides of the plate. The sales pressure to constantly deliver and over deliver. “Don’t have too good a year this year, because you’ll only have to deal with the comps next year. BULL PATTIES!
    We keep the pedal to the medal for all we can and we’ll deal with next year when we get to it. Rate pressure, competitors who give it away, etc., etc. It’s all part of what we do and what we have been doing for years and years. Then there’s the programming/ratings part. Diary, PPM, all stuff that causes you to lose sleep at night and your hair by the time you are 40. What a great life, diaries every month, PPM every week. Put out a great product and see it proven in weeklies, when the next week, you’re doing the same thing and puff, your numbers go away! You better have a passion for this or it will eat you up. Have a passion for it and you devour it like cotton candy.
    Radio Ink: Tell us what one or two skills you have that made you a strong manager.
    Marc Kaye: I learned early on that being a manager had nothing to do with managing.  I learned early on that it wasn’t about me but about them. I love working with people to help them become the very best they can be. If your staffs feel that this is real and that their best interest and their growth is a priority for me, they’ll do just about anything for you. Listen more than you talk — this one is hard for me, but most importantly break it down to the simplest of terms. Abide by the golden rule, it really truly is that simple. Then you better be smart, good looking, lucky, and hardworking, and there is a good chance you will be successful.
    Radio Ink: Your biggest success and biggest failure as a manager in radio were…?
    Marc Kaye: I think our biggest success was getting the Seattle cluster to the number one billing cluster in the market. My biggest failures have been when I failed individuals who work for me. The times we were not able to turn someone around or get them to understand the keys to success for both a happy work life and a happy away-from-work life. For the most part, both the great successes and failures are people based, not ratings based, not sales based.
    Radio Ink: What advice do you have for aspiring Market Managers?
    Marc Kaye: I sure hope you kept a lot of notes coming up. You should have written all the good things down and all the bad things. All the things you promised yourself you would never ever do and all the things you swore you would do, if only one day in the future you have the chance to be in charge and create the kind of working atmosphere you always hoped to work under. If you didn’t do that, shame on you, because chances are you said to yourself all the time about the do’s and don’ts, but you never took the time to write them down because you thought you would never forget them, they were that important. Start the record-keeping of the good the bad and the ugly today. I promise you, when you do get where you want to go, the road map will be right in front of you and the journey can begin in earnest.
    Radio Ink: Do you believe the industry is in a good place today?
    Marc Kaye: Good place, for sure; great place, not so much. We are lucky at Hubbard to have someone with the vision of Ginny Morris to help us into the digital world. She knew we needed to be part of that ad community so she did it. As far as straight radio goes, we are still strong, we should remain proud of our roots and proud of our current connection to people. Live and local, baby, that will keep our radio stations doing well. I think we need, as an industry, to do a better job of talking the talk and walking the walk. There are so many studies and so much information out there about the strength and the power of radio, but we continue to fail to get the message out. Radio is not outdated but our means to communicate the information to the advertising community is. Pandora, Spotify, Sirius have very little trouble getting press even though none of these guys have found a way to monetize these platforms into profitability. Local radio continues to deliver successes for our advertisers and we can’t get page 16 of the New York Times on Thursday. Can we all get together for at least one thing — to create a campaign that talks about how great we are?
    Radio Ink: Other than the people you work with what will you miss the most?
    Marc Kaye: Nope, can’t do it, it’s the people. It has always been about the people and for those radio operators that succeed, it will always be about the people. Oh yeah, wait a minute, I am going to miss my VoxPro, my Wheatstone Board, and my Sony mikes. Uh, no, it’s about the people. I only hope after all these years I have been as important to them as they have been to me.

    Marc Kaye and his team in Seattle
    Congratulate Marc on a stellar radio career at MKaye@hubbardradio.com

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