Tom Kent: An Open Letter To The Radio Industry
March 15, 2016 at 3:58 AM (PT)
RADIO NETWORK's TOM KENT penned an open letter to the industry in 2014 (NET NEWS 1/30/14), offering his take on how deregulation and WALL STREET have affected our industry. Now, he's writing again -- this time noting no radio companies made the recent FORTUNE list of great companies to work for. He writes,
Dear Radio Media,
We are always looking for ways to improve our industry, but perhaps we're missing the biggest, most glaring and obvious thing of all. In the most recent issue of FORTUNE magazine, it lists the Top 100 best companies to work for in 2016. Shocker, not one broadcast company was listed! After working in this business since I was literally a kid, one of the things that's always been true is this. As a whole, we don't treat our employees very well. By the way, this was true before and after deregulation.
In this day and age of mounting debt and deficits, why aren't we empowering our employees to be all they can be? By the way, the number one company on that list is GOOGLE. They have the best benefits and the most fun environment and something like 98% of their employees say it's a great place to work. Coincidentally, they are also a company with vision, consistent profits and growth.
Let us remember, corporations are nothing more or less than the folks who make up those entities. We are all the sum of its parts. As a business owner, I empower my employees to make decisions at the very lowest level. It's kind of what revolutionized the Japanese work culture. They pushed responsibility down to the lowest level as opposed to what we've done here in the U.S. Post-war JAPAN became a thriving nation based on this bottom-up philosophy.
One of the things that excites me of recent is seeing how CUMULUS, whose had a top-down culture is now trying to reverse that philosophy and giving its programmers and managers at the local level more autonomy in the decisions that will ultimately determine their fate. Top-down bureaucratic control almost never works. When you empower folks on the assembly line with the decisions that will most impact their future and hire good people, you will almost never go wrong.
In my own company, I give my managers complete and total control so that they can move with autonomous agility in order to effectively compete in today's ever-changing marketplace. Again, when we hire good people, empower those people, compensate and care for those people as assets, we will ultimately win. Winning means more profit and less chance we will be mounting debt that will eventually be impossible to service. By the way, when that profit comes, we should never forget to share that with the folks who brought us there. This will empower, excite and motivate your employees even more.
At the end of the day, the only true tangible assets we have as broadcasters are our people. After all, we're pushing air and that air is worthless without the folks that give it true value. Any other tangible assets like equipment and real estate are almost negligible. We don't even own the license on the wall to broadcast. That belongs to the people. Above all else, we should make our employees and our listeners first priority in all that we do. The profits will then follow and flow like a flood. This I know for sure, when we worship at the alter of money and make money first above all else, money will elude us.
Let us encourage a new generation of broadcasters to take our industry to the next level. We can do that by setting the standard high by the way we treat them. The paradigm should always be this and in this order. Audience, employees, product and sales. We should never ask for compensation without delivering the greater good. Here's to bigger profits and less deficits in 2016 and here's to making our employees our most valued assets. Without them, we are nothing.