By Kelly Orchard, M.A. LMFT

There is only one problem with radio today. One. So, let’s solve it.

Although I’m not immune to the ongoing challenges that the radio industry faces, my primary focus is on the people inside the industry. I’m a second-generation broadcaster, having worked in my family-owned stations for the first part of my radio career, then transitioning into FCC Compliance consulting in 2000. My broadcast career was derailed in 2006 when I was hospitalized suddenly, suffering from an undiagnosed heart arrhythmia that led to heart failure.

The life-threatening heart disease that almost took my life and derailed my career was the catalyst in the decision to flip my radio career path and study psychology. I wanted to help people in more ways than I could as a radio executive. I began graduate school studies, then completed an internship as a Behavioral Health professional. I became a licensed psychotherapist in 2012, specializing in depression, anxiety, stress, and the behavioral health issues that plague 25-30% of the U.S. population.

Consider that statistic and its direct impact on you and your organization!

Whatever role or title you have, take some time to consider the people you directly work with, lead, or supervise. Twenty-five percent of the U.S. population suffers from symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress, creating a huge financial impact on businesses. This translates to one in four people on your team. Possibly even you. These conditions may be undiagnosed and untreated.

I spent a good part of the last few months having confidential, frank dialogue with numerous radio professionals from every department and management level. My intent was to discover practical ways to truly bring value to this industry that I love. Those conversations allowed me to assess the state of mind of radio professionals, and revealed that there is one main problem that is being neglected …

FEAR. More specifically; fear of failure.

The trouble, turmoil and transitions in radio with so many mergers, acquisitions, format changes, ownership changes, and disruptions in media have shaken radio to its core. People are afraid to take risks, afraid to speak up, afraid of getting fired or not promoted, afraid to stay, afraid to go, afraid that the radio business is failing. Hopelessness and fear set in.

Fear paralyzes you. Stress is a result of FEAR-based emotions. Left untreated, the effects of stress have a significant negative impact on your health as well as your relationships.

I have good news for you … it’s not as bad as it seems!

The Behavioral Health industry would diagnose a good number of radio stations’ teams as suffering from “adjustment disorder.” Symptoms include depressed mood and anxiety that is stress-related due to an inability to adjust or cope with a major life event. The inability to cope with the change impairs general functioning because of the unchecked emotions and behavioral responses.

Fear impairs your ability to communicate effectively, and lead your company and the industry to the success and profits you want to achieve.

Flip your attitude! Own and confront your fear of failure.

Sales training and vanilla leadership alone won’t get radio where it needs to go. The radio industry is heavily reliant upon the human component; automation, syndication and more consolidation are not the answers. Living, breathing humans are what will keep radio alive and thriving into the future – unless we all want to turn our licenses in and become internet-based media companies.

Radio’s healthy workplace begins in the C-suite – fresh perspective.

When I finished my graduate school training in psychology, I had to complete more than 3,000 hours in the field of Behavioral Health as an intern before I could qualify to take the grueling and lengthy set of tests to become licensed as a psychotherapist.

For a period of time I was employed as a psychotherapist with an organization providing free mental health services to the low income population. The department I was assigned to work in was Late Life Depression which offered a program for seniors. This job also had a marketing component, and I found that my years of experience in radio really helped my ability to do research, find the right resources, and conduct outreach, which enabled me to create and develop programs to increase awareness and engagement with this population. One of the services I offered was a depression support group at a senior citizen center. The participants of the group affectionately named it “The Blues Club.”

What does this have to do with the mental and emotional state in broadcasting?

When I created the program for the community of seniors, it evolved out of a need to improve their lives. They would come to the center in hope of finding fun activities to keep them engaged, meet new friends, play games, and go on outings. They wanted to get out of their homes and find helpful resources to stay active and healthy.

But there was a glaring problem. Everybody was so negative and depressed. They would sit around and talk about their aches and pains, how the economy was suffering, and the rising cost of healthcare, among other things. They complained all the time, and found many others who felt negative and depressed. This only promoted a more negative atmosphere. They weren’t achieving the goals that brought them to the senior center in the first place. Sure, they found camaraderie; their consensus was that life is hard. Life is miserable. Depression is inevitable. We’ve all failed at life.

By implementing a supportive system with specific tools to increase positivity in how they think, feel and behave, the individuals who participated in the group saw significant improvement in their well-being and overall lives.

Negativity only increases negativity.

How do you begin your day? Today is an ideal time to take inventory of your own mood as well as the mindset around you. Look at things from a helicopter view. Are you excited to get out of bed and get going with your to-do list, or do you wake up feeling anxious and drag your feet while asking yourself, “What crisis is going to happen today?” How does your immediate team measure up? Is there a lot of negative talk around the office?

Positive thinking alone doesn’t cure a crisis, but it will help you navigate through it and aid you in developing better solutions to the problems you face. Your attitude will largely determine the attitude of your team members. But, it doesn’t happen overnight.

It takes effort to shift your mindset and adjust your attitude from negative to positive.

According to Strategic Coaching founder and psychotherapist Cloe Madanes who has trained coaches all over the world including Tony Robbins, there are six universal human needs:

  • Certainty; feeling secure; knowing what’s going to happen next
  • Uncertainty; variety; change
  • Significance
  • Love/Connection
  • Growth
  • Contribution

When you strategically take care of your team by meeting at least two of these needs, you will see a positive shift in direction. Remember, people don’t quit jobs; they quit bosses. Of course, nobody is indispensable, but it’s more productive and cost- effective to keep our already-established teams happy, healthy and productive, than to expect them to function well in an atmosphere of constant unrest, turmoil and turnover.

Confident Leadership

The people inside radio stations are the real assets of the organization. Sure, you own some licenses, properties and transmitters, but the true assets lie in radio’s creativity, innovation, the ability to inform and entertain your audiences, and bring value to your advertisers. You serve your local community and have fought the battle of remaining relevant in the age of digital media. But there is more to be done for radio to pull out of the predicted flat revenue growth in 2018, and to thrive.

Fear and negativity block creativity and innovation. Period.

Leadership in the radio industry must change frequency! The status quo will not promote growth. A “this is how we’ve always done it” mentality is detrimental to any business.

Want to increase revenue and profit?

Focus your energy on creating a positive, healthy environment in your company. You don’t need to wait for a corporate mandate to begin flipping the negative mindset in your company to a positive one. Simple shifts in the way you think can make all the difference in your success, just like simple shifts for those seniors changed the way they thought, and improved their lives.

It starts at the top.

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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