Toxic. Broken. Shattered.

toxic Dear Christian Radio,
Our culture was broken. That’s not entirely accurate. Our culture was severely broken. Shattered. There was animosity between corporate leaders and the team members in the field. That was Positive Alternative Radio three years ago. There were competing agendas. Team members were seen as people whose efforts could help in paying off debt. Corporate was painted as out of touch and uncaring. The culture of Positive Alternative Radio was toxic…and that is no exaggeration. We had no idea what our future was.   It had never been articulated. Corporate leaders regretted expansion due to the debt. Team members regretted taking a job at Positive Alternative Radio. Then it changed. Board members, station managers and leadership sat in a conference room adjacent to a local coffee shop. Two consultants from Advocace’ media were in the room, Randy Bronkema and Jerry Grimes. For two hours Bronkema and Grimes listened to complaint after complaint after complaint. It was Gripe-a-palooza. Bronkema snapped. He stood up, began slamming his hand on the conference room table and shouted, “It ends now! It ends now! It ends now! I don’t care what’s broken. Quit complaining. Ask each other how you can serve one another and fix it.” That was the beginning. Instead of fighting leadership, we began to ask, “What are your goals? What are your dreams for PAR? How can we help get it there?” BOOM. Instead of arguments, there were conversations. Make no mistake; there was a goal in mind to where we thought PAR needed to go. Our purpose became simply this; to understand the goals of the board and craft the vision of where we needed to go as the solution to achieve those goals. This didn’t happen overnight. It’s been three years. Three years that has been tough, enjoyable, long, happy, fruitful, full of growth and sometimes overwhelming. We had to figure out why we existed. Why is PAR in the Christian media arena? For three years we fiddled with mission statements. Our mission statement needed to do a few things:

  1. It needed to inspire our team
  2. It needed to define what we do, in a short statement
  3. It needed to be memorable

We wrestled with words and phrases; then it happened. On a cold snowy morning in January in Blacksburg, Virginia – the PAR leadership team stood and applauded as the mission statement was realized. “We exist to create and deliver experiences that inspire people to live passionately for Jesus Christ.” Every break. Every song. Every story. Every concert. Every time we interact with a listener or donor. Every event we attend…our purpose is to have it be an experience; one that inspires people to passionately follow Jesus. Our teams cheered. They now had a clear vision of how they fit in the equation on how to change the world through PAR. PAR leadership became evangelists of the new mission statement. You could see the mission come alive. Passion was birthed. Teams began creating experiences and delighting listeners. The pursuit and possible achievement of this mission statement did something else; it would fulfill the goals of the board. Now the entire organization had alignment. Next, we turned our attention to tearing down silos. Instead of PAR’s six station brands competing against each other, they needed to share talent, resources and ideas. We began setting up cross-station teams for social media, promotions, programming and marketing. Silos were destroyed one-by-one. Leadership training became an ongoing priority. We began taking the 15 PAR leaders through a minimum of 2 leadership books per year. We began to implement candor into our workplaces thanks to Jack Welch’s book “Winning.” We read books about Steve Jobs and his obsession with the design and the experience…not the content. The experience you want to create should dictate the content. Advocace’s Randy Bronkema began to take our leaders through the leadership-training program, “The Timothy Project.” We studied the work culture of Starbucks and began to pattern ourselves after them. We hired New York Times Bestselling author, Jonah Berger, to take us through a seminar of his bestselling book “Contagious.” It wasn’t cheap. But it was a worthy investment. Transparency became the cornerstone of our culture. Detailed budgets and P&L’s began being produced. Managers meet monthly with our Director of Accounting & HR to review monthly P&L’s. They’re able to plan, forecast and assist with cash flow management. Here we are three years later. We haven’t arrived, but we’ve come a long way. We’re a different place. If you’ve ever worked for PAR and left angry, we acknowledge we were broken. Today, you’ll find our offices full of passion with a desire to win. The PAR team LOVES to work here. Reach out to them. Ask them. Income is up. Audience is up. Underwriting is up. Impact is up. We’re growing. Many of you reading this blog serve in an organization that is broken, shattered and full of distrust. You serve at the twin to the old PAR. You can change it. Instead of saying, “This is what we need to do”, ask your Board how you can serve them by meeting their goals and dreams. Dear Christian Radio,

  1. DO NOT GIVE UP. Make the case that the plans you have fulfill the goals of the board. Make it about the board, not you. Stop complaining. Compete. Invest in yourself. DO NOT GIVE UP.
  1. Answer the question, “Why are we here?” Make sure your Board is part of that discussion.   Make it inspiring. Be an evangelist for the mission.
  1. Begin developing leaders. Buy books. Go through them together. Discuss the ideas. Ask the question, “How can I live this out?” Don’t be afraid to practice candor. Heaven knows our industry needs it.

Brian Positive Alternative Radio 

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