Listen To Your People


(By Buzz Knight) Recently, I connected with Mark Chernoff, friend, former boss and great legacy Program Director (WFAN-NY,WNEW-FM,WXRK,WDHA) about the traits of winning radio stations.

In our conversation he touched upon how the commitment of the team to winning was critical and how getting everyone focused on the same mission was a path to ultimate success.

Mark also spent a lot of time focused on the importance from a number of perspectives on listening.

As a manager he said “you have to listen to your people”

By listening very closely to their feelings, opinions and ideas you can extract great things.

The key is you have to be willing to invest the time.

This is such an important dynamic for the manager of today.

When we consider the impact leaders need to have in this difficult time, listening provides an important backdrop to leadership traits such as empathy, compassion, curiosity and caring.

In an article from on 8/17/20 called “The Power of Listening” by Jonathan Westover/PHD he describes “impactful active listening as more than just hearing the words someone is saying and understanding the context in which those words are shared, along with other verbal and non-verbal cues, such as voice inflection, tone, facial expressions and body language.”

In other words, don’t be distracted when you are communicating with your team, actually listen to them in a non-distracted way.

Additionally ,Mark Chernoff had another twist on the dynamic of listening which is equally important.

He said “A Programmer has to listen very closely to every aspect of their product.”

In Mark’s mind the listening comes in two forms, “listening as a PD and listening as a listener.”

A PD can listen to the mechanics and flow of their brand in a very technical way to evaluate performance with regard to content quality, storytelling, relatability along with the mechanics of teasing, stop-set placement and other elements of playing the game to win in the ratings.

But Mark’s point about “flicking the switch and listening like a listener” is equally important to effective programming leadership.

Listeners are living in incredibly distracted times and they are the judge and jury when it comes to evaluating the strength of content.

PPM has taught us that talent truly needs to get to the point in a content break in the first 7 to 10 seconds of getting into the break.

Programmers need to be able to boil down what is important from the listeners ears and communicate this to their talent.

They also should find ways to actively seek feedback from listeners and listen to their comments with a thick skin.

As managers are challenged with more on their plate then ever, it’s key for them solicit feedback and be proactive to find out where problems are brewing before the problems escalate and grow tentacles.

Keep your ears to the ground…LITERALLY…and you’ll be a better manager.

Buzz Knight is the CEO of Buzz Knight Media and can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]


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