The Path To Number One By Andy Meadows

Over the course of my career coaching and managing talent I’ve worked with every level of on-air personality. That includes former number one talent trying to recapture the hunger required to get there again, experienced people who’ve had moderate success but are ready to take it to the next level, rookies who live and breath radio and say ‘why not me?’ and conversely, plenty of personalities who will never stand atop the mountain despite having all of the talent necessary to do so. I’ve also noticed there are striking similarities between each of those individuals and the larger organizations that employ them who either set the tone for success by building and protecting strong brands and creating the infrastructure necessary to support them, or, are perfectly happy to consistently land somewhere in the middle. The simple fact is, most personalities and stations that never reach number one do so because they simply don’t want it bad enough. Here are a few of the things we have to do to set ourselves on the path to number one. 

Think mass-appeal, but also be unique. We all know it’s virtually impossible to dominate a market with a niche format, unless the major formats are so segmented that they leave somewhat of an opening. But, even when we’ve selected a mass appeal format we still have to find some point of difference that will set us apart from the competition. Then brand around that constantly and guard against anything that goes against that brand. For on-air talent it’s not enough to just talk about the mass appeal things everyone is likely talking about, it’s about coming up with our own unique angles to deliver that content in a way that only we can do. Hence why I always push talent to choose content they can add to

Understand that getting to know our audience is a challenge that never ends. When we’re new to a market, station and/or format, it’s easy to push ourselves to get in front of them as often as possible, connect with them consistently on the phone, online and through our social channels. But people change and so do cities. So, if we don’t continue communicating with our audience daily we’ll likely miss those changes. 

Work harder than everyone else. Radio is a fun job, and it should be. If we’re not having fun doing it then we’re doing it wrong. However, it’s by no means an easy job. It takes a lot of hard work, strategizing, preparation, a focus on execution and a desire to constantly evolve and grow ourselves and our stations. Stations and talented personalities can get lucky and stumble into a number one slot if everything lines up right, but to consistently be number one we have to put in the hours and effort required to be a champion. 

Surround ourselves with like-minded people who have that same winner's mentality and coach out or remove complacency. In this day and age of slashed budgets and staff being asked to wear multiple hats its easy to look at any additional employee on staff as a net gain. Typically, that’s true. However, when there are only so many spots to fill, and so much money to dole out, each spot becomes that much more critical. Because of that, everyone on our staff is either an asset or a liability. In my experience most people can be coached into being an asset with the right team in place, and good outside advice from a consultant, but there are still plenty of circumstances where we should cut our losses. 

Act as if the competition is fierce even if it currently isn’t. Most groups aren’t putting as many resources into their stations as they traditionally have. Every year there’s less live talent in virtually every market, less money being put into marketing and promotions and less support staff within our buildings. But, we can’t let that trick us into taking our foot off the pedal because A) it leaves the door open for us to be attacked locally by a single station willing to invest in itself and B) our digital competitors are all ramping up as we speak. 

What do you think? What have you done to successfully move to and stay at number one? Comment below or email me at

Pic designed by wirestock for

Leave a comment