In the April issue of Radio Ink Magazine, mailing out to subscribers this week, we published our 2021 Top 20 Leaders List. Cromwell Media CEO Bud Walters was voted the number one leader in radio by his peers in the industry.
In our April issue, which you can subscribe to HERE, we asked all 20 of radio’s Best Leaders to answer four questions: How would your team describe you? Why is 2021 going to be a great year for radio? Has leading through a pandemic made them a better leader? And, if they had to choose a career today, would they choose radio. Here’s what bud Walters had to say to all of those questions.
How Bud’s team would describe him: “Good citizen, nice person.”
Bud Walters tells Radio Ink 2021 is going to be a great year for radio because there’s finally some momentum after radio had to make some tough decisions in 2020 due to COVID. “Those benefit us in 2021.” He goes on, “Most of us have learned to use the new technologies and have more to work with than we could ever have imagined. Our associates seem to feel the same way. If we use them all well, 2021 will be a great year.”
On how leading through a pandemic has made him a better leader, Walters says he’s not sure it has, other than more tenacity. “Early decisions we made, even before we knew about the Paycheck Protection Program, included keeping our full-time staff employed and paid, helping every client who needed it, serving our communities in whatever way we could. Having this as a core principle helped guide most decisions that helped us all work together better.”
Looking back, is there anything he would have done differently? “PPP,” he says. “We wasted a good bit of our time applying with a regional bank that had too many applications and could not process them. Our small-town community bank offered to handle it and did so in a day, and it was funded in two days. We should have gone there first. Community banks are the best. “Second, we should have anticipated that this might last a year or more.”
And finally, on the topic of whether he would pick radio as a career if he were just starting out, it sounds like there’s no question about it. “In college I saw what a difference a small-town radio station could make in a community,” he says. “That’s when I decided on broadcast management and ownership (I was a lousy DJ). The idea of community service still rings true, and we have so much more technology today.
“Local radio is a key part of it. Depending on where a person wants to live and the lifestyle, local radio is still fun (and very different from major market) and profitable. Local stations are very available, affordable, and a great local business. The key is knowing we’re in the sales/advertising business. Thus, local radio has to include digital/social, web, apps, streaming, Alexa, and compelling programming.
“If I was young and thought I had the skills, it’s a great choice. But it is not ‘just radio.’ Being in business for yourself is never easy. Doing what we do is a lifestyle and not a job.”
Subscribe to the April issue of Radio Ink Magazine, which includes a special report on the Future of Talk Radio, by clicking HERE.