2011 Goal Series – The Wisdom of Gary Berkowitz

My friend Gary Berkowitz is what radio guys call “a legend”. His clients have included most popular radio stations in the land, including Detroit radio powerhouses like WJR and WNIC. Gary is the guy who conceives and builds a station’s sound. From the type of music played to the formatic elements of jingles, commercial placement and disc jockeys, Gary creates a vibe that attracts and retains listeners. And he’s done it successfully for a long time.

Gary’s domain is broadcasting. But much of what he recommends is good advice for all of us. Here are his 10 New Year’s Resolutions for Programmers, with translations into our language of life.

First and foremost, aircheck your jocks. As our business evolves and PD’s are busier and multi-tasking more than ever, this art seems to be falling in-between the cracks. We all want and crave feedback. There is no better way to build relationships and help jocks sound better than to close your door, turn off the phone, listen to their show and offer constructive feedback.

Translation: Seek and give constructive feedback. Feedback is the breakfast of champions and if it’s from the heart, it can be one of the most important gifts you will give or receive in the New Year.

Sell the product. Hard to believe, but many radio stations sell everything but their number one product…the music. Promote thequantity, quality, and benefits of listening to your station. Moreover, please remember the power of titles and artists. Listeners always rate this very high. They want to know the names and artists of the music you are playing.If you think they know all the titles and artists, please re-think this.

Translation: Sell your Personal Brand. There are a number of effective ways to make others aware of your potential. In your daily routine, your actions will speak louder than your words. Go the extra mile to make your contributions things of true quality. As new people come into your life, become an expert at remembering names and faces. There’s nothing more beautiful than the sound of our own name.. when it’s said by someone else.

Do not worry about liners burning out. Let them “BURN IN.” Sure, they need to be updated and freshened but make sure you do not lose the focus in the process.

Translation: Perfect practice makes perfect. Success is nothing more than a series of productive behaviors repeated over and over. Take time to figure out which behaviors you need to get you where you want to go. And execute them with excellence and consistency.

Be involved with the daily editing of the music log. Since music is #1, there is nobody more qualified than the PD to make sure that ever segue, every song and every 15 minute cluster of music is right on target. Constantly look at songs to make sure they are rotating properly. Not only through the dayparts, but the hours as well. Lookout for “vertical rotation” problems. Delegating music editing to a less qualified person could cost valuable rating points. Remember with the music, safe, familiar and smooth always wins in AC.

Translation:  Focus on the important stuff. Make sure you are in sync with your boss and are dedicating the bulk of your workday to achieving your common objectives. If you are a leader, you can delegate authority, but you retain responsibility for the results. Pay attention to detail and keep an eye on the cogs that keep your professional machine running smoothly.

Make sure your station is not dull and boring. Jocks, jingles, sweepers, and promotions give you a great opportunity to keep your station alive and vibrant. Make this week the week to invent some new imaging.

Translation: Keep your energy level high and your attitude positive. Be fully present for every aspect of your life. Do the things that enrich your mind, body and spirit and build a balance that promotes enthusiasm, excitement and exuberance.

Remember, personality is all about “the way you sound”, not in the “amount of words” you use. Take a tip from the PPM markets. Keep talk elements to the point, and always make sure they are delivered with sincerity in the jocks voice.

Translation: It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Keep your communications concise and to the point. Be sensitive to the needs and priorities of those you serve and tailor your approach to effectively work with their personal styles. You will get what you need when you help others get what they need.

Review and improve your website. Is there a reason for listeners to visit you more than once? With marketing budgets at a premium, do all you can to maximize this free marketing tool. The competition for web hits is greater than ever. If you do not have a Facebook fan page for the station, get it going asap. Same for Twitter.

Translation: Talk to others in their language. Some of us like it face to face, others prefer the phone or email. GenYs communicate via text message. And everyone is experimenting with social media. You should be, too. Learn to interact in the language and the medium that best suits your customers.

Work on technical improvements now. Do not wait for the start of the spring book to work on your audio processing or any other technical issues you may have.Check with the jocks and production people to see if there are technical issues that need repair.

Translation: Address glaring opportunities today. Out of shape? Start that fitness plan before the New Year. Service that furnace or air conditioner before the  season demands it. Have you been told you’re at the top of your pay grade? Start thinking about how you can add more value and the money will follow. Our rewards in life are in direct proportion to our service.

Plan ahead. Do not wait until the last minute to plan research, promotions, or marketing programs. We all know the upcoming Arbitron dates. Be ahead of them. If you are planning music testing for the spring book, plan to have it on the air between 3-4 weeks prior to the books start.

Translation: Plan ahead. Set your goals and follow up benchmarks for next year right now. Anticipate every possible bump in the road and think today about how you might deal with it.

Review Christmas now. While its still fresh in your mind, look back at how this Christmas season went. Take notes for improvements for next year. Make lists of songs you’ll need, and believe it or not, start working now on clock grids, so they are ready next year.

Translation: Take stock of your current situation now. What’s going well? What needs attention? If you had to do it again, how would you do it differently? Introspection can be a powerful tool if y0u use it when your memories are fresh.

Thanks to Gary for being a great Spartan and showing us how his radio wisdom is truly life wisdom.