One would think that being in the communications business, we would be better at communications. What I'm talking about are the kind we tend to ignore within the walls of our own radio stations, much to our detriment.
A few months ago, Z100's longtime PD, Sharon Dastur (left) was pulled up the corporate ladder, and replaced by Mark Medina (right with Carly Rae Jepsen), most recently from the iHeartMedia Washington, DC cluster. Of course, just like every other position in every other field, each manager comes with his or her own set of skills. Mark's include a huge dose of "out-of-the-box...what-box?" ideas. If there were a "creativity" meter, his would probably be too high to measure. Plus, he's a helluva nice guy.
At the time, I wrote a column in RAP Magazine about the importance of getting to know your new manager right off the starting line to optimize your working relationship. I honestly thought I did just that and even congratulated myself for taking my own advice. It turns out I was a little hasty in my self-evaluation.
This week, Mark and I got together over lunch outside the radio station to talk about our mutual goals for the radio station. That's when I discovered that we had only scratched the surface in our first round of meetings. Looking back, I realize that I walked into those first meetings with a bit of an attitude (not a good thing), and had tried to establish my own credentials with the "new guy" in all the wrong ways. Instead of listening the way a good communicator does, I spent WAY too much time talking. I never really understood the depth of Mark's love for the medium and desire for Z100's continued success. I now know that, like me, it's not the paycheck that motivates Mark, it's the passion for doing it BIG and doing it RIGHT. Adding to the passion is his absolute joy in dealing with all of the details carefully and completely.
For this meeting, because I wasn't sure what Mark needed from me, I actually tuned into what he was talking about. When he asked me what I thought about what he was saying, I was delighted to discover that we are kindred spirits. The reason he'd asked for the lunch meeting was he had noticed a kind of lethargy creeping over Z100's imaging. Because I was actually listening this time, instead of getting defensive about it (my usual MO), I saw what he was implying right away and we both set about rectifying the problem. I am happy to report that it's starting to work.
As evidence of the new energy of Z100, I offer the weekend promo we created around Ariana Grande's "National Apology" Tour (my characterization) that is hitting town in September. Mark sketched out the broad design and then depended on me to make it sing. I gotta say, I think we pretty much nailed it.
I found an old session of Ariana's that had a couple outtakes and played on those, without showing her in a bad light. In the case of the first, I made it a response to Mark's "donut" comment. I have to admit that I laughed out loud the first time I played it back, which is generally a pretty good indication that it worked. In the meantime, I stepped up the energy level of the promo with a lot of quick edits, drops and sound effects, got pretty heavy-handed with the compression and basically willed the whole piece to jump out of the speakers and take a life of its own.
Check it out HERE and see if you think I was successful.
Have a fantastic week, and remember to COMMUNICATE! It's what we do...supposedly.