CRS In Action: Broadcast Group Heads Get Candid


L-R: Kim Guthrie, Beth Neuhoff, Weezie Kramer, Erica Farber

In a positive sign of the times, COUNTRY RADIO SEMINAR (CRS) put together a trio of broadcast group heads to speak on a panel today (2/15) without once touting that fact that all three of the featured executives were women. In fact, the only sly nod to the relatively groundbreaking nature of the lineup was in the name of the panel: “What Leadership Looks Like In 2020.”

Still, the panelists — COX MEDIA GROUP Pres. KIM GUTHRIE, ENTERCOM COMMUNICATIONS COO WEEZIE KRAMER, and NEUHOFF COMMUNICATIONS CEO BETH NEUHOFF — addressed the gender issue head-on, especially when asked directly by an audience member if they like to be referred to as “female executives.” GUTHRIE said she once had a boss who told her, “You’re one of the best female broadcasters out there.” She replied, “When you can take the ‘female’ out of that compliment, it will be a compliment.”

NEUHOFF told moderator ERICA FARBER of the RADIO ADVERTISING BUREAU that expectations for women in executive roles have changed in the time she’s been in the radio business, noting, “Different leadership styles are more acceptable now.”

Discussing her management style, GUTHRIE said it’s possible to run a “kind company,” while still not being afraid to fire underperformers. KRAMER stressed the importance of having a team that trusts you.

Following the 2017 CBS RADIO/ENTERCOM merger, KRAMER said she inherited employees who actively distrusted her, something that came as a shock because she believed she was good at people skills. “I thought people would like me [after the merger],” she said. “I’m a likable person. That didn’t happen.” She added that “the only way you can build trust [with employees] is face-to-face, and it takes time.” Now, a year-and-a-half after the merger, she said, “I just had my first meeting where we felt like one team [and] we never once heard the words ‘legacy ENTERCOM’ or ‘legacy CBS’ [stations].” I’ve learned a lot,” she added. “It’s been really humbling.”

Continued KRAMER, “We live in a world where there is so much fake news and lack of trust. If people don’t know what’s going on where they work, if people can’t trust you, then you have complete disengagement.”

Added NEUHOFF, “Even as small as we are, when we buy a new station … the assumption that culture will come quickly is [wrong].”

All of the panelists were bullish on radio’s future, especially GUTHRIE, who runs a media business that includes print. “If you’re down on radio, I have newspapers,” a business where someone literally drives the product to your house every day, she said, before joking, “The newspaper business is [the] first canary in the coal mine.”

KRAMER noted that “audio is hotter than ever,” putting radio in a great position to capitalize on that. NEUHOFF said it feels like “a very exciting time for small markets,” and smart speakers have “done something really unique … for people who want to listen to their hometown radio stations.”

Added GUTHRIE, “Radio is free and a wonderful companion still … Never lose sight of that. It’s a fun business, an entertaining business. and a relatively cheap business to run.”

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