Cumulus Media’s Debbie Payne


Cumulus Los Angeles Market Manager Drew Hayes tells Radio Ink that every day Debbie demonstrates her great leadership skills, creativity, commitment and humanity in leading the KABC sales team. “This was especially true during the pandemic. KABC’s sale mantra is: “We’re going to make budget if it means having to have a bake sale in the parking lot,” and Debbie leads her sales team in the constantly changing environment with passion for the station and focus on how to grow our partners businesses. She is an exceptional person, a focused manager, and a great partner in the ongoing growth of KABC.”

Debbie tells Radio Ink she never expected to have a career in radio sales. For over 20 years she enjoyed working as a corporate paralegal. One day a friend who was the sales manager of a radio station in Los Angeles asked her if she had ever thought about bringing her legal background and network of connections to the world of radio sales. “I took on the challenge and now, after a decade, I’m proud to lead a team of gifted sales professionals who teach me something every day.  Radio sales gave me a way to use and develop an entirely different skill set and from day one, I was off and running.”

Radio Ink: How did you know you’d be good at selling radio?
Debbie Payne: Selling radio came easy and was a perfect fit for me as connecting with people and problem solving is something I really enjoy. Each day I am still excited about what the day will allow me to create and bring to my team at the radio station. The relationships that have developed over the years are invigorating and bring a fresh sparkle to my life and of course negotiating and closing deals is always so much fun!

Radio Ink: Why are you a successful leader of salespeople?
Debbie Payne: I try to lead by example, with professionalism, humility and kindness. How well I know my team as individuals, how familiar I am with the issues they face and of course my own experience over the years as a sales rep who came into radio knowing nothing of the profession and having a lot of success helps me to understand and walk with the team through all of the challenges and victories we have in our business.

Radio Ink: What’s it like working and leading people in Los Angeles?
Debbie Payne: I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. I know the culture, the highs and lows of our city and now through the storm of the pandemic and other issues – I know I am here for a reason. I love So-Cal and will always work to make Los Angeles a better place for the small businessman to the large corporation to everyone who trusts our media platforms and makes an investment with us. I take responsibility for every dollar entrusted to us.

Radio Ink: How do you keep your team motivated?
Debbie Payne: We are fortunate to have all our departments work together and look out for each other. The pandemic caused us to lean in and support each other as we transitioned to remote work and all the challenges with the technology, the sales process and keeping connected with our clients. We made sure to have daily meetings which turned into discussions about family stress, children at home, mental health issues, economic issues, loss of loved ones and all things that matter to a team of humans trying to navigate the tremendous challenges we have seen in the last couple of years. The people on our team have decades of experience and talent beyond measure and together we are a force for good in Los Angeles.

Radio Ink: Tell us how you spot a great salesperson
Debbie Payne: Looking for new talent is simple. Listen more than you speak, ask leading questions and listen carefully as people tell you who they are, what’s important to them and with that information you will know if this is the person who will be your next rock star.

Radio Ink: How do you keep yourself sharp, up on all the trends, ahead of the competition?
Debbie Payne: I believe that if we want to have new ideas, new vision and new ways to grow in our scope of influence, we are changed by what we consume. I read a lot about leadership, relationships and how successful people grow. I make time for reflection each morning as plan my day.

Radio Ink: Over the past 18 months, what are you most proud of?
Debbie Payne: Over the last 18 months our team is stronger and more aware of social issues that involve all people. We have all been challenged to open our minds to think of the well-being of others as well as ourselves. We have made decisions that weigh career, family, friends, health and finances. We have offered ourselves to be of service to our community and our clients. We have scheduled meetings just to check-in and our relationships are cemented by sharing this time in history, We are stronger, wiser and have become more flexible in this every changing world.

Radio Ink: What advice, in this competitive environment, do you have for other sales managers across the country?
Debbie Payne: Advice is hard to dish out to others except I would say to put fear and doubt behind you, reach higher than you think you can manage and be kind to yourself when you make mistakes… after all, the work you do now is in preparation for what you will do next!

Congratulate Debbie for being chosen as the Radio Ink Sales Manager of the week at [email protected]

Nominate your Sales Manager HERE.


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