Raiding Your Competitor’s Talent


(By Jeff McHugh) As a result of the recent turmoil surrounding station sales and radio company bankruptcies, your competitor may have asked star players to accept salary cuts, to take on additional duties, or work with fewer players and resources. They may also see others being laid-off and wonder if they are next.

Now might be a good time to consider luring a heritage show — and their ratings and revenue — away from your competitor.

That is where you come in. Here are some things to keep in mind as you attract a star player across the street to your team.

Market heritage matters more than you think. Radio shows thrive through the personal relationship between listeners and their favorite presenter. Be mindful of the value of that connection as you calculate the costs and benefit of poaching.

It is never about the money. Big Boy says, “It was never about the money” in this interview clip about his move from Power 106 to Real 92.3 in LA. Google “money as a motivator” and scroll through the many management articles proving that a lot of things matter more than cash.

Do not approach through email. Your competitor is monitoring their in-box. When I was at iHeart Radio, I invited a cross-town host out for coffee through email. A lawyer responded with a cease-and-desist within hours. Call, stop by an appearance, or ask Randy Lane or me to reach out on your behalf.

Take non-competes seriously. It is worth the investment in good counsel to step through the legal landmines. Luring talent is almost always possible if you learn what you can and cannot do to avoid an expensive legal confrontation.

Buyer beware. Just as you would with any new hire, do a background check, check references, and consider how your team and the new player will get along. Even the most successful heritage talent brings both strengths and weaknesses.

Jeff McHugh is known for developing remarkable talent for both morning and afternoon drive. He brings an uncommon mix of positivity, creativity, and strategy to the shows that he coaches. He is a member of the team at the Randy Lane Company.


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