Circle The Wagons For Mutiny
July 30, 2013
When it gets too quiet around the building, it's always good to find out why. Don't get paranoid, but just make sure you are aware of everything going on around you. Hopefully your situation is not like this gentlemen's.
Question: My GM thinks I should include the staff in all the programming decisions before I institute them. I am not sure what has prompted this since the ratings have been up or flat over the last two years, but never down. I am in a two-book market and we are beating our direct competition. So I am not sure why this is happening.
Coach: It sounds to me as if you have some folks trying to stab you in the back. Programming by committee does not work. Look no further than baseball's Chicago Cubs of 1961 and '62. The Owner P.K Wrigley instituted "The College of Coaches." Instead of a manager, from game to game eight coaches rotated as the head coach for the day. When Wrigley came up with the idea he said "Managers are expendable; I believe there should be relief managers just like relief pitchers." The result of this experiment was chaos and low morale among the players and the organization. The win-loss record for the '61 club was 64-90 and in '62, 59-103; in last place and six games behind the expansion team the Houston Colt .45s (Astros).
Let me share with you my experience with this sort of thing:
The anticipation of new ratings coming out can cause a lot of anxiety and even worse if the results are less than expected. I have been in a couple of strange situations with down ratings both as an air personality and as a PD. As a jock I experienced radio's version of the Caine Mutiny; the numbers came out and the GM called an emergency station meeting. Every employee including the janitor was allowed to voice an opinion on programming. The PD and our air staff had to sit through this unnecessary and painful ordeal. You have to understand, this was one book; the previous two had the station up in the ratings and this one was flat. The morning guy and I were the most recent additions to the air staff and we voiced a show of support for what the PD was trying to accomplish, but it fell on deaf ears. It was as if what we were speaking a foreign language. He and I looked at each other and realized the inmates were about to take over and to survive we had better act as if we were on board. I felt bad for the PD because this coup was partially to blame on the spoiled crew he had inherited who fought change, even though the station had been underperforming prior to his arrival. And to make matters worse, the GM allowed the malcontents a voice, and by doing so he legitimized their propaganda. As I look back I realize it was a ploy by the GM to get the PD to move on or quit. For a short period of time mob rule existed as programming by committee. The PD was eventually fired and the committee thing went away when one of the malcontents was promoted to the programming position.
Years later, I was a new PD coming into a situation with a group of underperforming jocks who had been there for years. There was a lot of pushback and whining from a couple of full-timers about doing some things they did not understand; I could also see they had gathered some allies from sales and trouble was ahead; forget the fact I had been brought in to get the ratings up. My first two books were flat. The disgruntled were mounting an offensive and my intuition told me to placate the disgruntled until the Fall numbers came out.
To satisfy the GM and the complainers, I had been having a series of "I am listening to you" meetings. In fact I had scheduled one in my office on the day and time the new ratings were due out. It was a set-up on my part; I had seen enough indicators to know the numbers were going to be up. Right in the middle of the co-conspirators leading the charge of "We never and why should we," I got the numbers and the ratings were substantially up. I wish you could have seen their faces, a mixture of happy, how could this be, and damn, now we have to shut up and follow his lead." That was as close as I ever came to programming by committee.
Conclusion: My friend, I suggest you either find the root of the problem and fix it, or start looking for another job ASAP.