Feature InterviewInterviews

Brian Sanders 2-19-16

interview-briansBrian Sanders
Executive Vice President
Positive Alternative Radio
Blacksburg, VA.

PAR has five brands which include Spirit FM in Lynchburg, VA; WCQR in Kingsport, TN; Positive Hits, WPER in Richmond/Fredericksburg, VA; Joy FM in Winston Salem, NC and Walk FM in Ashland, KY, Huntington,WV.

HisAir: Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions regarding leadership.  We’re excited to partner with Positive Alternative Radio and it’s blog, DearChristianRadio.com to present a four-week series on Leadership in Christian Radio beginning next week.

Brian: We are honored to do this.  Thanks for the opportunity.

HisAir: All this got started because you believe there is a leadership crisis in Christian Radio.

Brian: You get right to the point! The more that Positive Alternative Radio interacts with stations all over America and we talk to industry leaders there are some things that are clear.  We don’t have a music crisis.  We don’t have a programming crisis.  We don’t have a fundraising crisis.  But we do have a leadership crisis.

HisAir: Take a moment and explain that.

Brian: I’d be happy too.  I don’t want it to appear that I’m creating a crisis out of thin air.  Here are a few quotes that have been said to me over the last two years from Christian radio managers and leaders:

  • “What you say makes a ton of sense…but I only have a few years until I retire. I don’t need to start anything new.”
  • “Look, my role is to push people to do what they get paid to do.”
  • “I like being the knight in shining armor. I like riding in and saving the day and then riding off again.  In other words, I like to save the day.”
  • “Everyone tells me radio is dying, so why try that hard? If I can get to retirement with the station still on the air – then I’ll be happy.”

I’ll stop there.  You get the picture.  Those types of comments, and many others, point to a leadership crisis within Christian Radio.par-series

HisAir: Let’s assume for a moment that you are right and there is a leadership crisis.  What are some overarching causes?

Brian: Positive Alternative Radio is known for candor.  It’s a key cornerstone on which we’ve built our culture.  So, I’m going to practice some candor.   First, there is this thought that we don’t have to work hard or innovate because all we have to do is trust the Lord.   Second, fear of failure.  Third is what I call the ministry “mindset.” In this “mindset”, everyone is nice to each other but nothing is getting accomplished.  Fourth is the king syndrome.  It’s the exact opposite of the ministry mindset.  The king syndrome is a leader who never leaves their office but issues decrees and typically leads by fear.  This type of leader is unable to inspire or serve their team and lead them to a grand vision.   There are more causes but from what I see these are typically the top four.

HisAir: Who are your leadership heroes?

Brian Sanders: My Dad.  He led in the military and in the civilian work force.  Dad is a common sense leader.  He always does what the next right thing is.  I’ve had a front row seat in the best leadership school my entire life with my Dad.   Second, Jack Welch of General Electric is a hero.  I’ve read every book he’s written and those about him.  I’ve watched and read every interview he’s ever given.  His book “Winning” is the greatest leadership book ever written.  Third, Randy Bronkema has really invested time and effort in me.  This man’s fingerprints are all over my leadership style.

HisAir: Why are you so passionate about leadership?

Brian Sanders:  Because everything rises and falls on leadership.  The future of our organizations and stations will rise or fall based on the leadership.

HisAir: The four-week blog series on leadership begins next week.  What do you hope to accomplish?

Brian Sanders: To stir the hearts of at least 10 leaders in this industry.  I’d love to see 10 leaders begin to make a change by gathering their teams, dreaming about the future, cast a vision, equip the team to capture the vision and then be passionate about that vision every single day.  Those 10 leaders have friends in the industry.  Their friends will see the difference and perhaps that could impact 10 more.

HisAir: Give a preview of some of the items you’ll cover in your series.

Brian Sanders: Sure.  We’ll discuss why leadership is critical to our future, the importance of building a culture, investing in yourself, speaking life to others, honoring our donors with our leadership and training the next generation of leaders.  That should keep us busy.  Let me say this.  Technology isn’t beating us.  Apps, Pandora and spotify are not beating us.  What’s beating us is a lack of innovation from leaders.  That has to change.

HisAir: Thanks for your time.

Brian Sanders: Thank you.  I look forward to the next several weeks.

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