Some brief history:
In 1997, at the age of 26 (my current fiancé was 6 at the time), I was what’s called the “Operations Manager,” for Lotus Broadcasting in Reno. Basically, that means I was second-in-charge of the building of 55 employees at the time, overseeing 5 radio stations. Whooopty do, right? The ratings came out and our newest baby, KDOT (aka ROCK 104.5) tanked…it went from #1 men 18-34 to last place all humans; a total disaster. I fired almost the whole staff and took it over myself, as if I needed more to do. I mainstreamed the playlist, coached the new staff and, 6 months later, the radio station was the #1 station in town with not just young men, but everyone. It was just as unheard of then as it is now for a rock station to be the most listened to station in any city, but we did it. I called the staff together and congratulated them, and then gave them the bad news; becoming #1 isn’t the hard part. Staying #1 is. There’s only one direction to go, and everyone is gunning for you. Work harder.
18 months later (when my current fiancé was 7), I made the devastating decision to add Dawn to my morning show. While we were #1 already, we weren’t #1 enough in my opinion. I believed we could be bigger, but we needed to broaden the appeal of the show…God help me, Dawn was the broad to help broaden. My hair disintegrated and the ratings came out and the show went from being #1 to being disgustingly #1…by margins no one (other than me) had ever imagined. I called my show’s team together and congratulated them, and then gave them the bad news; becoming #1 isn’t the hard part. Staying #1 is. There’s only one direction to go, and everyone is gunning for you. Work harder.
Given our success, bigger cities began calling asking what my secret was. I, of course sad “me!”
In May of 1999 (when my current fiancé was 8) we moved the RAD show to Sacramento for reasons I still don’t understand. At the time, I had major offers on the table from Minneapolis, Houston and Sacramento. The latter made the most sense at the time, a decision I still question to this day given how much the city sucks but, hey, it ain’t Houston (a truly awful place…yes, worse than Sacramento if that’s believable which I know it isn’t).
We replaced what everyone thought was a “popular show,” in SAC, but the truth is that it wasn’t popular by standard industry definitions. The show we replaced was what we call a niche show; hugely popular with young men and no-one else. Our job was to make the morning show mainstream popular; win with all people, all ages. Ratings were announced and we were immediately #1, all people, ages 18-54. It literally gets no better than that in our industry. I called my show’s team together and congratulated them, and then gave them the bad news; becoming #1 isn’t the hard part. Staying #1 is. There’s only one direction to go, and everyone is gunning for you. Work harder
16 years later, in 2015 (when my current fiancé was 24), the RAD show had been #1 adults 18-54 for the entire time, an unheard of run in the radio industry. But cracks were showing…we were starting to lose portions of the audience.
It’s important to understand at this point that countless radio and TV shows make enormous amounts of money by being #1 in what we call “certain demographics.” It’s stunningly easy to make a very good living, for example, by being the most popular show with men 18-34 or women 25-54. From the jump, way back in 1997 (when my current fiancé was 6) I said “why can’t we be #1 with everyone?” I was told that was unrealistic. You needed to pick your lane and dominate it.
Back to 2015 (when my current fiancé was 24), when there were clear problems with the show, I made personnel changes no one agreed with. We revamped the RAD show dramatically; we changed not just the people, but the tone and the focus. We were still #1, but not #1 enough in my opinion.
Ratings came out and the RAD show broke its own records. We weren’t just #1, we were #1 by margins even we had never seen, with enormous audience numbers. I called my show’s team together and congratulated them, and then gave them the bad news; becoming #1 isn’t the hard part. Staying #1 is. There’s only one direction to go, and everyone is gunning for you. Work harder.
Two years later, and plenty of recent attempts to bring us down, and we’re still dominating the landscape wherever we broadcast and by impossible-to-replicate standards.
One thing that everyone who has ever worked for me will tell you is that they have heard a version of this speech: “I will do whatever it takes, including hiring or firing whomever I have to, to maintain our dominance.”
It’s a very simple premise; accept nothing less than being the best. At work, in life, with friends, with significant others, and anyone else. Once you get there, demand that the people around you live up to the same expectations.
Take that premise and apply it to any phase or portion of your life. If you got married 5 years ago and your spouse is no longer even trying, what are you doing? Take control and maintain your dominance as a human being demanding only the best. If your best friend of 26 years (that’s how long my fiancé has been alive) is suddenly a degenerate loser, take control and maintain your dominance as a human being and demand better. It sounds hard and it is, and many times my life I’ve taken too long to do such things. The key is doing them, and remembering that everything worth having in life is work, and often hard work.
In the current state of the nation, too many people seem sad, defeated, depressed, angry, and even hopeless, all of which is understandable. Sometimes we need to be reminded that we can only control our own personal worlds, not THE world, and that the best thing to do when the rest of the universe is falling apart, is to grab hold of your own and make it as great as it can be.