Change Management and Sustainability at your station #CBAAconf

3MBS General Manager Anne Frankenburg and radioinfo’s own Steve Ahern led an excellent discussion during the Change Management and Sustainability workshop at the CBAA Conference.

Running a station requires a secure and sustainable management plan and both Frankenburg and Ahern addressed the roadblocks that people face when trying to make changes for the better within radio stations, particularly in the community sector.

Frankenburg has been the Manager from Melbourne’s Fine Music station for the past three years. When she began in her role, 3MBS was in financial trouble and she said it was clear that the station had issues that needed to be addressed and changes within that needed to happen.

She listed the 7 key change management ideas:

  1. Create a sense of urgency. Persuade people that there is a reason to change.
  2. Create the guiding team. It is really about finding your champions within the station, the people that are well respected. 
  3. Develop a vision and strategy. Be really clear about what you have to do and develop a strategy for how to get there.
  4. Communicate for understanding and buy-in. Tell stories and repeat your cause. Be prepared to tell a story over and over again.
  5. Empower others to act. Identify and encourage way for people to get involved and try to really give a sense that everyone is a part of it.
  6. Consolidating gains to build more change.
  7. Create a new culture within the station.

More detailed information about these management ideas can be found here.

Steve Ahern mentioned examples from his international travels as a broadcast trainer and organisational change consultant. He highlighted the ups and downs of broadcast management and sustainability across the world in countries that are not as fortunate as our own.

He talked about working with broadcasters as they transitioned from broadcasting outside of their country for their own safety to being welcomed back into the country to broadcast.

Ahern also discussed change management techniques:

“An external crisis can be a reason to change and an external enemy can be another reason to change. Make sure that you identify the external factors and focus your teams towards them, otherwise the opposite can happen and they might identify an internal enemy, which will cause problems and division in the station and will not help you solve the problems you want to address.”

“I think repetition is important – when you finally hear your staff and volunteers telling you what you have been talking about, that’s when you know it’s gotten through”

Ahern asked the room to imagine the people from their radio station and describe their personality traits. He went on to colourfully stereotype each of the roles within the station and point out that managers need to address different people in different ways. He said managing a radio station is not easy:

“You want a smooth transition or trouble free change, you want easy change management, go work in a bank – not radio, there are no easy options with the people who work in a performance industry like radio. You need to think about the people in your team and communicate change to them in ways that get the message through to each personality type.” 

Ahern also said, as a manager it’s important when someone comes to you with an idea or a problem to try and find a way to not say ‘no.’

“Words like ‘no, change, but’ generate a negative response in people, they shut down once they hear those words and don’t hear the rest of your message. Think of ways to not say the word no… if you just take that extra mental moment to think of another way of breaking the bad news it could give you a better outcome.”


CBAA Conference reporting by Jessica Pantou.

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