The station manager also typically hires and trains all employees or oversees department managers’ training. The manager may work with union stewards, deal with the contract issues of on air personalities, and work closely with the programming director. The station manager must also deal with any problems in the operation of the station and arrange with other agencies to repair or replace station equipment. He or she also has the final say in the station format.
The station manager must also deal with the financial management and budget development of the station, working with the sales and accounting departments. He or she has to motivate sales staff and network in the community with other agencies, businesses, and organizations to increase the market for advertising. Great communication skills and business management experience are a necessity as a station manager.
Handling all questions, information requests, and complaints is another task of the station manager. The manager must be familiar with licensee obligations, FCC regulations, and legal requirements, along with fundraising techniques, such as membership campaign methods and grant and gift proposal writing.
According to This Business of Broadcasting: A Practical Guide to Jobs & Job Opportunities, “The general manager, or station manager, as the position is often called, is the boss. He or she has authority over the whole show. The general manager is usually a corporate officer reporting directly to the station’s owner or board of directors. To reach this level takes years of experience, and usually involves moving up from small stations to larger ones. No definitive studies have been made about the career paths of people who reach the top job at stations, although a degree in communications, journalism, or broadcasting is certainly beneficial. Attaining an MBA is a distinct advantage.”
Station managers must be creative and innovative for their stations to be successful in terms of ratings and advertising revenue. Tony Brandon, station president and general manager of WYPR in Maryland, discussed his managing strategies with the Baltimore Daily Record.
“We started three years ago in February. At the time we acquired the station, it was showing significant losses. The revenue was static. The acquisition required that we borrow money, which would add additional financial pressure — the interest and amortization costs. So we looked for ways to immediately reverse the financial stress on the station. In our focus groups, we determined a number of subjects that would help the radio station connect to this community in a more meaningful way. We added a number of programs that were both supportive of business and supportive of the arts and cultural institutions of the community. We were able to bring small businesses and large businesses into supporting the station,” Brandon said.