Tips on runnning a standalone station: Glenn Smith 1XX New Zealand

Glenn Smith is the Managing Director of Radio Bay of Plenty Ltd, a stand alone radio station in New Zealand.

He is known for his successful strategies in consistently achieving good financial and ratings results.

He shares some of the key observations he has learnt over the past 40 years in running a successful stand alone radio operation.


1. Have a mentor

Luckily the founder of our radio business, Ross Niederer was a fantastic mentor. He taught himself about the radio business – he was a visionary who foresaw deregulation, the growth of the networks and offered me wise and considered counsel. This was very helpful. I did know radio, but not business the way Ross did.

2. Value of industry/trade organisations

A key part of our success has been membership of various organisations but in particular the International Broadcasters Idea Bank – a source of ideas and advice for the last 45+ years in our business. Only 100 radio businesses globally are eligible to be members, so we are zealous in maintaining this resource. Plus membership of the Radio Broadcasters Association including at the Board level has built valuable industry relationships.

3. Relationships

We try to have positive relationships with everyone in our industry, our staff, our listeners and stakeholders in the community. It’s very important to have professional relationships with local and national government as well.

4. Take risks

We have taken calculated risks to expand our brands and look for new revenue opportunities. These include our forays into Queensland, the South Island of New Zealand and other ventures. But we’ve done so when we’ve had the financial strength to do so, never putting our core business at risk.

5. Inclusiveness

We want to have everybody in the tent – all people from all walks of life, Young, old, diverse backgrounds and ethnicities. We try to reflect all of our area and its people. And we want every and any business to work with us, as we do with community groups and organisations.

6. Truth and Trust

In this social media and fake news era, the facts can often be hard to separate from everything else. We refuse to be drawn into spurious social media posting and everything that attracts. We want to be straight down the middle on delivering facts and maintaining trust with our audience and advertisers.

7. Invest in the brands

We are very careful with branding and our image. We want to be consistent, powerful and relevant. When looking at what we’ve done over the past 49 years, we’re proud of it, but it does reflect the eras we move through, so there is constancy of change.

8. Protect the brand

We are always zealous about how and where our brand is publicised, in particular while working with others.

9. Hiring

Hire the smartest, best people you can afford. And if they are smarter than you, even better. It has been a privilege to work with truly brilliant, creative people.

10. Planning

Planning is important, but constantly re-evaluate and redraw your plans. The pace of change dictates more attention to planning than ever, and the ability to redraw and re-plan when needed. A promotional plan for the year is invaluable.

11. Share information

The revenue picture is important for everyone to see. Interestingly not everyone feels the need to see it. The way to keep people feeling included is to over deliver on what’s going on. I’ve been guilty of not doing enough of that.

12. Encourage participation

In smaller operations we rely on multi skilled people who often juggle a number of roles. My observation is that most people who work for you are capable of doing nearly everything there is to do if they are given the opportunity, training and encouragement. This has obvious benefits.

13. Creativity

The more creativity, the better the product. Ideas can come from anyone and anywhere, and their encouragement can give rise to the participation mentioned above.

14. Humility

We are, we believe, New Zealand’s most awarded radio station. While we’re hugely proud of that, we also want to continue to be relatable and accessible for our audience, so we don’t want to over-emphasise that position.

15. Develop local talent

Over the years, our best talent has been grown by ourselves. Some of these people have gone onto success nationally and internationally. We’ve had some amazing people from announcers to engineers to salespeople who have developed careers with us.



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