Why a Mantra is the Best Gift for a Creative Team

October 30, 2018

The digital revolution is unlocking a lot of opportunities for public radio: new programming platforms, new revenue sources, new ways to serve and connect with audiences.

As leaders of public radio stations and organizations navigate the dizzying array of choices and options these opportunities present, there is one thing above all others that they should provide their staffs as they navigate this new territory: a mantra.

A conversation I had with a former public radio colleague illustrates the need to clearly define the purpose of the work organizations do. The young woman had recently started a new job after working for a very successful public radio organization. During her time there, the staff had quickly grown from a handful of producers, story editors and sound designers to many dozens of people. The company had taken on a ton of new initiatives and expanded what they produced and how they distributed their work. When I asked her why she left her old job, she replied: “We had no idea what we were doing.”

To be clear: The editors knew how to edit, the producers knew how to find and frame stories. Pretty much all the employees knew their individual job roles. Competence wasn’t the problem.

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