Adjust Your Attitude with Nostalgia and Watch Your Business Grow


Radio’s rich history of innovation is the framework for its perpetual growth.

Do you remember when you first got into the radio business? Whether you’ve acquired stations and are running a group, or built your own group, or worked your way up in your company, you’ve made strides to grow into your current position. But the radio business has evolved and new challenges spring up every day!

Are you seeking growth continually? Or have you allowed yourself to become complacent and stopped making the effort that got you where you are?

You need to be in a perpetual growth mindset. And it is very personal.

You may be weary of the recent buzzwords found in coaching, leadership and entrepreneurship, but let’s address the questions anyway: What is your “why”? Your purpose? Why are you still here? Have you ever failed?

I’m an idealist. I own it. Being positive, while practical, is a great strength, but I wasn’t always that way. For too many years I was a victim of a negative/no growth mindset. I’ve failed more times in my business goals and personal life than I can count, and found myself in survival mode. My scariest failure topped any notion of professional achievements; it was when my heart began to fail. Heart failure was the best worst thing that happened to me because once I made the decision to shift my mindset, I began to grow.

I learned that failure isn’t so bad as long as I learn from it, grow from it, and teach others to do the same.

Although my career path evolved and I pursued an education and practice in mental health, my roots in radio are deep, so making my way back to my roots is natural for me.

FCC Compliance consulting has given me the opportunity to work in hundreds of broadcast stations, but not as an employee of the company. I’m a consultant; an advocate for the station. Visiting stations has always opened up opportunities to share stories with those who work in broadcast stations. We laugh and engage in tales of radio’s rich history from the perspective of our experiences and what we’ve learned from them. There is a connection we feel, that broadcasting has served a greater purpose in the world than just our tenure at our current station.

During a recent conversation with Michael Laponis, Professor of Communications and GM of the campus radio station at of the University of La Verne in California, we talked about how to recruit twenty-somethings to want to work in radio.

“First, they need to understand it,” says Laponis, a 35 year veteran of providing education at LaVerne. Witnessing the evolution of radio over the years, he has seen firsthand how interest in radio careers has declined significantly, especially in the last seven or eight years.

More on this in another column, but his point seems so ominous. Why would anyone choose to work in radio if they don’t understand the industry? Most radio listeners only know the radio personalities they’ve listened to and the music they play. There is no understanding of the business aspects, the entrepreneurship of selling advertising, the opportunity to be part of a community in a very intimate way, and to support causes that radio stations and groups promote ‒ or anything else about the industry. They know even less about how radio has a license to broadcast and why.

The general radio listener only knows what they are exposed to. And in today’s digital world, radio has become part of a flooded landscape ‒ just one of the multiple medias vying for attention. They have no deep roots in radio listening, unlike those of us who grew up with limited opportunities for entertainment. That needs to be addressed, and as my college professor friend and I continued our dialogue, we identified that radio needs to consider its roots embedded in a rich history of innovation.

How is radio in a class by itself?

There is one thing about radio that makes it especially different ‒ its rich history of perpetual innovation. But roots are a critical foundation for innovation. In leadership there is a wise saying, “Always look ahead, but never forget your roots.”

Do you remember your radio roots? How strong are they? I often teach that the moments in our lives are like leaves on a tree. The leaves fall off but the roots remain. Radio has roots. It may be a traditional media, but since its inception radio has successfully innovated new programming and technology.

How can you help your team value their roots?

Start with nostalgia. Allow yourself to reminisce about your own stories from radio. Yes they can be bittersweet, but mostly happy and comforting. Then try opening your next manager or team meeting by sharing a story with a teachable moment. Promote some laughter and enjoyment. Whether your meeting is in person or by phone, a brief story will improve the mood that begins the meeting. It will reduce any tension or stress. Participants will experience positive emotions.

How to fire up fond memories:

  • Bring out old photos and news clippings
  • Listen to old air checks
  • Visit a nostalgic group on social media
  • Call an old colleague to reminisce


Find some humor, encouragement, or a motivating lesson to share. Let your nostalgic roots take hold of your attitude so growth can occur.

It’s important to consider your fond memories from the position you are in today. Is there a lesson? A motivational message? An experience of creative innovation and teamwork? Is there something that can provide a positive take on one or more of today’s problems?

In a previous column, I introduced the Six Universal Human Needs addressed by strategic coaching, one of which is “connection.” Sharing stories from your own history will make connecting easy and fun for your entire radio group.

At the end of your meeting, recap the story with a short reminder. You will have done something very simple (at zero cost) that will reduce fear and negativity, and increase positivity.

Psychologists agree that engaging in nostalgia at least once a week boosts your mood and reduces stress. Radio’s history of innovation and creativity will stand out above the fray. While some may feel it’s a bad idea to think and speak about “the good ole days of radio,” those times are an example of how the industry can shine bright. Do this weekly and let the strategy evolve with the culture you are growing in your company.

You can improve your mindset.

The beautiful thing about mindset is that you control yours. You can’t entirely control the market, the business, or your people, but you can choose to be positive, project your positivity at work, make small incremental changes, and watch how things begin to improve. And don’t be surprised if you attract twenty-somethings to work at your station!

Nostalgia is the perfect setting for growth in radio. And it’s just one of the means to increase positivity and connection with your team. More to come.

* Kelly Orchard is a professional speaker, author and trainer. In addition to more than 30 years in the business of broadcasting, she has a Master’s Degree in Psychology and a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Science with an emphasis in Organizational Leadership.

Kelly specializes in working with radio industry executives in times of trouble, turmoil and transition, to help them stress-proof their leadership. She is a 2008 graduate of the NABEF Broadcast Leadership Training Program, among others. She is also an FCC Compliance Specialist and licensed psychotherapist. Reach her at

Kelly Orchard (Badass Certifier)

I've actually worked in organizations as an owner, manager, employee. I did it backwards but learned all I needed to know - at the time. Organizational Leadership training alerted me to methods. Psychology education taught me how individuals think and behave. Social Science taught me how people behave in groups. Bankruptcy, financial failures, divorce, single parenthood, health crisis, deaths in family. Public tragedies and crises. Fully exposed. I was not permitted to hide through it. Thank God it was only Victorville. I've overcome and rebuilt after multiple business and personal crises. I know what it takes to get up and grow through crisis, tragedy and discomfort.... I have an uncanny ability to cut through the layers of agendas and motives and get to the real issues. I can take a complex situation and find simple solutions.

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