University Station Checklist
The manager's mind set is a powerful tool when it comes to dealing with your university. The following has been developed as a checklist in order to gauge your attitude toward your licensee.
1. The institutional mission has been reviewed and the station has taken steps to reinforce the licensee's goals, as programming constraints allow.
- ___Yes. The public service/community outreach aspects of the mission seemed to be the most likely areas we could reinforce.
- ___ Yes. We've allied ourselves with the university more strongly, both on-air and in print and it's paying off.
- ___ No. We're not an academic unit; nor are we like any other department on campus. Therefore, it would be a waste of time.
- ___ No and I don't intend to. Give 'em an inch and the next thing you know they'll be in here dictating programming.
2. There is effective reciprocal communication between the station and the licensee. The administration is cognizant of your successes; is alerted to any potential issues which could blindside the University; and, conversely, you are kept in the loop on important occurrences.
- ___ Yes. But it was no easy task. It took a long time and it's one of those things that we must maintain constantly.
- ___ Not yet. But we need to. We got into a situation last week where a quick call to the President would have alerted him to a potential incident so that he wouldn't have been embarrassed by a call from the newspaper. Not good.
- ___ I tried that once. Sent a press release and didn't get "boo" in response. Clearly they don't care about what the station does.
- ___ Communication! Communication! My former wife used to harp on that all the time. It's just a buzz word!
3. Steps have been taken to ensure that the station is viewed as a vital part of the institution.
- ___ Yes. We're now at the table when the University engages in its annual strategic planning. One of the reasons we're there is that I interviewed members of the upper level administration last year to get their impressions of the station. I also tried to get at needs we could legitimately address, i.e. taping presentations of visiting professors for their archives. Amazing reactions to this gesture.
- ___ We're just getting started. For example, my staff and I are now sitting on campus committees. We also make an effort to include more university-related events on our community calendar and we're participating more actively in campus events.
- ___ We reach an upscale audience on behalf of this university. How much more vital can you get?
4. Do you have a clear understanding of the University's current status, especially the constraints it's working under?
- ___ Am trying. It's in our best interest to find out. For example, a drop in enrollment or reduced state funding to the university would most certainly impact us.
- ___ It never occurred to me to think about the University's constraints. I've been so focused on our own. But now that we're reacting more positively, so is the licensee.
- ___ If they don't try to understand me, why should I try to understand them?
- ___ You must be kidding!
5. A strong internal marketing program is in place to reinforce the station's relationship with the licensee.
- ___ Yes. We do, indeed, view the institution as our single largest underwriter and treat it accordingly.
- ___ Yes, finally. We had taken a myopic view of our situation until recently. Amazing how our change in attitude has paid off.
- ___ No. I figure the less the licensee knows, the better.
- Well, I chose not to run the VP down with my car last week when I had the opportunity. Is that good enough?
6. If you do have an internal marketing effort in place, whom do you target within the campus community?
- ___ We do it very broadly because we want a strong base of support among faculty, staff and upper level administrators so that we're protected from the "revolving door" change in presidents.
- ___ Because of limited staff, we have been sending materials (press releases, listener letters, etc.) only to the President and people at the VP level. In fact, we've had a great relationship with the President, but she's leaving. Now what?
- ___ Remember? I'm the one who whose strategy is "out of sight; out of mind."
- ___ I'm so angry at the way I'm treated by the University that the thought of making nice- nice has me reaching for the Maalox!
7. To borrow a phrase from public television, how do you "signal your value" to the licensee?
- ___ We assign a dollar value on an annual basis to all the services we provide to the institution. We then present it with great pomp and circumstance.
- ___ I wish. The VP just "explained" to me that had we been communicating our worth to the upper administration on an ongoing basis we wouldn't have experienced such disproportionate cuts over the past few years.
- ___ We broadcast stellar programming 24/7. Like that isn't valuable?!
- ___ Who compiled this stupid checklist?
8. You have endeavored to diversify your funding base so that undue reliance is not placed on any one revenue stream, particularly that of licensee support.
- ___ Yes. I learned the hard way that putting too many eggs in one basket is a poor move. The University was contributing 40% of our annual budget! Everything was fine until one of our announcers made a crack-while on-air-(eek!) about the political turmoil occurring on campus at that time...
- ___We're trying, but we tend to go back to those predictable revenue streams, rather than concentrating on other income sources.
- ___ Our base is so small you can't even call it diversified-deprived is more like it.
- ___ Come on! We just grab whatever comes our way. Who cares where it comes from?
9. What is your feeling toward the future?
- ___ Used to be petrified! Couldn't seem to get a grasp on all the viable options. So I suggested a campus-wide task force so the station could work in concert with the licensee to explore the future. It's been incredibly productive. And by taking the lead, I've gotten serious "points" with the University.
- ___ Pretty scared. It's hard to get out of the box in my thinking, as it is for many of my staff members. But in talking with the Dean yesterday, both the station and the University have similar problems in trying to anticipate what our products and delivery methods will be in the future. It was a real eye opener.
- ___ Pessimistic best describes my feeling about the future. The University does not, has not and will never understand us.
- ___ Who cares! I have two years left until retirement. Won't be my problem.
Evaluating your responses:
If you checked "A" in response to the questions above, you have a productive attitude toward your licensee. As long as you keep this mind set and maintain an aggressive internal marketing program with your university, your existence should be a happy one. If the majority of your responses were in the "B" category, you're on the right track. Keep up the good work and expand internal marketing activities as soon as is feasible. If you found yourself marking "C" most of the time, you have an uphill battle. Either through too many bad experiences in the past or ongoing poor communication, it is going to be difficult to adopt a productive attitude. But if you choose to stay, it's essential that you adjust your mind set to one that is more positive and receptive. If "D" were your letter of choice, you're not doing yourself, your staff or the licensee a favor by sitting in the manager's chair. Maintaining a pessimistic, vindictive attitude toward your university contributes to an unpleasant environment for your staff, deprives you from any of the benefits gained through a symbiotic relationship with the licensee, and ultimately hurts the audience. So dust off the resume. And if you're close to retirement, it sounds like being a Greeter at WalMart probably isn't an option...
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