The Most Common Mistakes Sports Radio Program Directors Are Making

As a sports radio host (and overall sports radio nut in general), I’m fascinated with not just the on-air product, but almost just as much about how it all gets to air.  The selection of talent and molding them, working with a sales force, co-existing with a general manager, keeping good relationships with play-by-play partners, day-to-day operations.

I’m just scratching the surface on this list.

But, just like us nimrod hosts, program directors are making mistakes as well.

Jason Barrett, veteran sports radio program director, talked on our podcast about the most common mistake he thinks program directors, like him, are making.

I think that sometimes, especially when you’re in your first stint as a program director, if you’re young running a radio station, a lot of guys surround themselves with people who are more likely to say, “Yes,” and go along with the flow rather than challenge their thought process.

If you look at some of the head coaches in sports, you and I were both in St. Louis (EDITORS NOTE: Barrett hired me as a host at 101 ESPN), we saw Steve Spagnuolo and Billy Devaney. Spags was a first time head coach working for a first time GM. The coordinators around them were first time coordinators and what happened? They got blown out.

It’s harder to surround yourself with experienced people who are going to go, “I wouldn’t have done that,” but I think the good ones, in time, realize that there’s great value in having honesty and people around you who bring a different idea or, you know, I’m an intense guy, as you know. I can’t have three of me around because I’ll wind up wanting to punch someone, you know? I need somebody to go, “Calm down, it’s not that bad,” or, “Hey, I know it’s a rough day but we’re going to get through this,” versus hearing, “You’re right, man, we’re just totally screwed.” So I think that understanding what your strengths and weaknesses are as a person and as a leader and then finding ways to compliment yourself is really important.

The other common mistake the program directors are making, according to Barrett, is pulling the trigger on a show change.

Sometimes guys are so worried about being right that they don’t want to make a change or they don’t stick with something, or they’ll bring (their guy) in. “He’s my guy. So, because he’s been my guy, let me bring him here because he’ll be onboard with the message.” There’s value in that, but you also have to sometimes be willing to say, “Yeah, this looked good. The idea made sense, but it hasn’t worked, and although I don’t want to admit I made a mistake and I, you know, obviously put this together hoping it was going to work, it didn’t.”

How much time do you lose in running a business saying, “Hey, let me just stick with it because I won’t admit a mistake,” versus how much further along would you be if you just said, “Hey, you know what? I screwed up. Let’s fix it?”

Hear more from Jason Barrett, who has successfully started up two sports talk stations in two different top-25 markets on separate sides of the country, in PASR 001: The One With Jason Barrett.

Also, get his “3 L’s For Sports Talk Hosts.”

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