August 28, 2017

Who was the best natural leader(s) you ever worked with and what qualities did he/she possess that made for such a strong leader?


Mike Miller, WZFT: Tim Herbster and Brian Bridgman. They believed in talent and creativity. They wanted you to think outside the box.

Dom Theodore, Radio Animal Media Strategies: I’ve been very blessed to work with and for so many great leaders like Randy Michaels, Dave Reinhart, Glenn Beck, BJ Harris, Bill Tanner, Justin Chase, Darren Davis, Dan Mason, Jeff Kapugi, Rick Belcher, Dave Crowl and Don Bouloukos, just to name a few. They all had a few things in common: 1) They inspire those who work for them, inspiration is a level far beyond motivation. They made me want to win for them. 2) They let me make mistakes and learn from them rather than bashing my head in. 3) They were all loyal and willing to take a bullet for their people. 4) They understood the difference between “managing” and “leading” – you manage things, you LEAD people. 5) They empowered their teams do their jobs with great autonomy, and the team produced great results.

Jonathan Shuford, WRVW: Bernie Dittman in Mobile.  Not only was he engaged with his brand every single day, he cared…like REALLY cared about the people he worked with, from the PD down to the board op that ran Casey Kasem countdowns (that was me).  You WANTED to do the best job possible for Bernie.

R Dub! Z90: Such a tough one, because I really have had some of the best. A few that standout: Bruce St. James: formatics and sarcasm. Tim Richards: kindness, compassion and karma. Mark Medina: Making radio promos and imaging bigger than life; also blunt honesty. Tracy Johnson: Talent coaching. Joe Lindsay: Patience, restraint. I’ve been so blessed to work with these folks!

Jeff Hurley, WHKF/B104: Rick Rambaldo (WRTS) in Erie was the best leader I’ve worked with.  He made sure our stations were always something to be proud of.

Brian Michel, iHeartMedia/Atlanta: There have been a few. My current Region President, Justin Schaflander, he just gets things done and I look forward to going to battle with him every day. He’s just a winner. Matt Scarano (currently iHeart Region President in Chicago) is another guy who I found cared as much as I did and really just as an unbiased fair treatment for everyone. I would dig ditches for that guy. Scott Hopek (currently iHeart Market President in NYC) is one of the most organized and buttoned up on details people I have ever met. One thing about all three, you always know where you stand. They are straight forward and no office politics.

Matt Talluto, WBYR: Jim Fox (Entercom) and Tom Joerres (Formerly of Saga).  Jim was an endless well of info, good advice and the greatest talent coach I’ve ever worked with.  Tom Joerres was approachable and always “listened.”  You knew he was listening because the advice he gave in return was more than valuable. Two great guys!

Rick Vaughn, Power 94.9: I have been lucky to work with a long list of great leaders in many markets. They all took time to teach while managing.

Matt “MJ” Johnson, KUDD: I’ve been very fortunate to work with a few of them including Jerry Clifton, Dom Theodore and Jason Kidd. They all gave you eternal hope and motivation. No matter what the task was, they always made the mountain seem climbable and provided the path to solutions.

Mike McVay, Cumulus Media: Tom Embrescia, a local station owner in Cleveland, gave me my first GM job. He was also an early investor in McVay Media when we first launched the company. He continues to be a mentor and confidant for me. Tom’s a charismatic individual who is very measured in his approach and style. He is an excellent motivator. When he speaks, it is with your and his best interests at stake. When he listens, he listens intently. I have learned so much from him, over nearly 40 years of friendship, and I continue to learn from him. He is also the first person who showed me how to wear a silk pocket square and not have it make you look like a pimp. That was 1984. I continue to wear one today.

Mike “OD” O’Donnell, WKRZ : Pat Paxton has been a great leader here at Entercom. He’s very knowledgeable and gives you awesome feedback on the things that you need to know, and he also instills his trust in his programmers to do the right job. He’s added such a dimension and has been a big part of the strong company culture that exists at Entercom.

Kobi, WNRW/WLGX: Zac Davis, Kannon, Deanna E. They all practiced what they preach.

Jon Zellner. iHeartMedia: I definitely learned more from my bad managers than the good ones, but all the good ones managed with love and trust versus fear and doubt.

Bill Tanner, SummitMedia: Cecil Heftel was demanding, creative and inspirational.  He understood talent and how to motivate them, and he made it clear that he appreciated talent.  He hired some great talent and programmers like Buzz Bennett, Robert Walker, John Rook, Pio Ferro, Sunny Joe White, Steve Dahl, Don Cox, to name just a few. He expected PD’s to direct and motivate talent.  Once when I was grousing about one of our jocks at Y00 he snapped, “Do you think I hire these people for your convenience?” He was both a great showman and a great politician.  Once when he was in Congress I asked him, “What’s it like being in Congress?”  Never one to mince words, he laughed and said, “It’s like a radio station with 535 PD’s…and they’re all on the take.”

Gina Gray, WERO: I knew that Chris Michaels was going to be a wonderful PD.  I didn’t have the chance to work with him very long but you could just see that his drive and attention to detail were going to take him far in the biz.  It’s been a joy to see him growing his family and thriving in Memphis.

Jeremy Rice, WBLI:Kim Guthrie.

 Rob Roberts, WRQX: David Ross at Y100 Miami.  He wanted to win more than anyone and it was always infectious.

Fish Boy, WKRZ: Tias Shuster because of his ability to think outside of the box, and Mike “OD” O’Donnell because of his legendary experience in the business.

Jonathan Reed, WNOK: Boomer. He likes to involve everyone on the team. He hold people accountable. But also knows when to have fun.

Java Joel, WAKS: I was a lucky Baby DJ. One of my 1st Program Directors was Rick Pendleton/Rick Jordan. This guy’s passion for radio was infectious. He lead by example and inspired me. He turned me onto so many radio stations, jocks. The stuff he taught me nearly 25 damn years ago is still relevant today.

Kobe, WWHT: Nikki Nite because she was inspiring. You wanted to be better because you felt she was your biggest fan.

Chris Michaels, FM100: Steve Davis, Cat Thomas and Randi West. They were all strong leaders, who took time to coach you, super-smart, and very creative. I learned A LOT from them!

Big Rob, KSME: I’ve worked with a ton of great leaders in my almost 15 year career at iHeart, but as far as PD’s go it’s hands down Chris Kelly formerly of KSME and Nerf at KTCL Denver. Two very similar programmers that know their staffs aren’t one size fits all when it comes to teaching. Also, both very good at making the staff feel more like family and less like just employees. There’s something to be said about making your team feel loved and appreciated and those two know exactly how to get the most out of their teams.

Max Volume, KOZZ: A Program Director must know how to manage “talent.” It doesn’t work well when talented people are shoved in a box and told what to do and not to do. There must be creative latitude. A Program Director who can surround themselves with talented people will always win. Sales staff and General Managers must step back and let the magic happen. Daniel Cook was that guy. He produced nearly two dozen air personalities who went on to achieve big market success after learning their chops in Reno, NV.

Kevin Kash, WWEG:  My parents. The ability to get things done and plow ahead. They lead me into this life.

Chuck Damico, WMMR/WBEN: My dad. He was a positive and supportive dude who gave me plenty of room to find and develop my own strengths and never let me get (too far) off track. He was an All-Timer.


Next Week’s Question Of The Week:
What new songs that you’ve heard recently do you think will make a big impact going into the fall?
e-Mail your responses to: or