Do You Want To Be A Great Manager?

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If you answered yes to that question you may want to listen to some of the advice we pulled from Rex Hansen who’s retiring after a long and successful career in radio and radio management. Hansen’s final stop was a 19 year run as Vice President and General Manager for SummitMedia’s cluster in Springfield, MO.

During his tenure, the Springfield Operations launched three new radio brands that continue to serve our community today. Power 96.5 KSPW & News Talk 104.1 KSGF both started in 2001. Followed by 106.7 The River KRVI in 2012. KTTS has won the 2017 National Association of Broadcasters “Crystal Award” for community service, Country Music Association’s “Station Of The Year” in 2016 & 2018, The Academy of Country Music “Station Of The Year” in 2016 & 2018, the Edward R. Murrow National Award for outstanding news coverage in 2012 & 2015, along with many regional & state awards from the Missouri Broadcasters Association.

SummitMedia CEO Carl Parmer said of Hansen, “Springfield has been extremely fortunate to have benefited from Rex’s leadership, character, and compassion for many years.”‘

Hansen began his career as an Account Executive at WISM AM & WMGN FM in Madison, Wisconsin. He was promoted to Sales Manager in Madison and Station Manager at WJBC & WBNQ in Bloomington, IL. After his first General Manager role with WYMG in Springfield, IL he moved his family to Springfield, MO starting the business for Mid-West Family Broadcasting.

Radio Ink: What is it like managing people today compared to the early days?
Rex: There is a different mindset in terms of what the job is all about. People were very career focused and growth focused when I first got in and you were involved in your job and work. Today, a lot of people work to live their life outside of business and that can be a greater focus. It is not to say they are not focused, it is just a different mindset. 

Radio Ink: What about managing stations?
Rex: It is a lot more complicated today. When I got started your operation might be a single FM. Today, you are always with a cluster and working with a whole host of digital assets, station apps, websites, etc. You have to be fluent today to offer the right mix of services to get customers results. 

Radio Ink: What does it take to be a successful manager?
Rex: You have to be a good listener. You have to be focused on trying to help people achieve their goals and you will find your goals fall in place. You have to be focused on them individually. Let them know you care and help them grow personally and professionally. If you are successful in doing that, that relationship allows you to grow your business at the same time. It is a two-way street.

Radio Ink: What is your biggest challenge as a manager?
Rex: Keeping everything in balance. You have so many different things pulling on you from a business and life standpoint. If you are able to mind that balance you can have success on both sides.

Radio Ink: Do younger people want to work in radio these days?
Rex: Yes but I think you have to make sure they understand what the work is about. There are so many different industries competing for the same skill-set. They have to understand the flexibility and opportunities that exist in our business. These are not always readily apparent because they think of it as an older medium.

Radio Ink: With all that managers have to do these days, how involved can you be in the community?
Rex: We are supposed to serve the community needs, it is critical. That is the FCC’s number one job for us — making sure you are connecting with your community in a meaningful way is what it’s all about. I serve on a number of different boards. I encourage all members of my leadership team to do the same. We saw if all of us have a different community initiative we are involved in, we are spread across the community in a meaningful way. We want to have that kind of reputation

Radio Ink: What is one of the most motivational things you can say to your team right now?
Rex: With the proper focus and attention they are the masters of their own destiny. If they want it bad enough they can achieve it. It is a matter of dedication, discipline, and hard work with a good strategic plan in place. You will win. We have been fortunate to have done that for a number of years here in Springfield.

Radio Ink: With Google and FB etc. that advertisers have to choose from these days, does radio still work for them?
Rex: Absolutely, I think what a lot of people miss is that mass media — specifically radio and TV — are the things that build your brand awareness and equity. Who you are, where you are, and what you have to offer. If you are not using that as a foundation to build your business you are missing out. The social media, digital media, are there, in my opinion, to strengthen the relationship once someone has already established an affinity to your brand or business. That is how you grow, but building image, identity, and reputation is what radio does.

Radio Ink: What are your overall thoughts on the radio industry today?
Rex: We are in an exciting time with the changes taking place. It is allowing people with an entrepreneurial point of view to get back in. It went to a large conglomerate for a while but the ship is turning around to where there are more entrepreneurial types. You can look at the different operators coming along these days who are not operating a thousand stations but maybe 23, 30, or 50. They are serving the community and being very successful at it.

Radio Ink: What is your advice to other managers around the country?
Rex: Stay focused on your listener customers. As you nurture, develop, and grow them the other parts of your business will fall in place.

Radio Ink: What are you going to do?
Rex: I have a lot of travel destination on my list. Pam and I have mapped things out for quite a number of years. Then I will continue to stay active in community service. I was just elected member of the executive committee for a homeless group called The Kitchen. I will spending more time with that organization than I have in the last six years. I did not get an RV. We did that for a number of years but we will rent not buy. We are planning one international destination a year, and next year is Italy. 

Hansen was recognized by the Missouri Broadcast Association as the state’s “Distinguished Broadcaster” in 2011 after serving as the state association Chairman for two consecutive years from 2000 to 2002.

Hansen’s community service includes roles with the Board of Trustees for The Kitchen Inc, campaign committees for the Ozark’s United Way & Children’s Miracle Network, and the Board of Directors for Southwest Missouri’s Better Business Bureau.

You can reach out to congratulate Rex on an outstanding radio career by e-mail at [email protected]

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