Friday, March 12, 2010

My Best Boss

By Frank Absher

Near the beginning of my career I had the great fortune of working with a station manager who believed in his staffers.

The station, KFAL, had been a mom-and-pop operation since its inception, but when the owner died, his widow started looking for a buyer. The one she found hired a damn good time-salesman to manage the place and sent him to town to fire the staff and bring in new people.

Bud Pratt was a better person than that. He came to town and quickly realized that what the owner saw as a lack of professionalism was really a trait the listeners found endearing.

And the staff didn’t lack professionalism. They’d never been nurtured by a good manager.

Keep in mind we’re talking the bottom of the heap here. A 1,000-watt daytimer in a town of 11,000 people isn’t on anyone’s radar as a job destination, but what it lacked in stature it more than made up for in fun.

We broadcast tractor pulls from the county fair; Live remotes were done on a dial-in phone line; Local sporting events were taped and broadcast the following day; A local attorney just beginning his practice worked as a disc jockey on weekends to make ends meet financially; Obituaries were broadcast daily following the 10 a.m. news; Livestock market auction reports came in on the phone line during the noon hour; And Sundays were filled with church services, both live and recorded. Oh, and we ran “Back to the Bible” every weekday at 11:00 a.m., which blew away any semblance of a format.

That didn’t bother Bud Pratt. He came to work each day with an energy I’d never seen. If you’re lucky, you’ve worked for someone like this at least once. He took time to sit down with every worker from time-to-time to find out how things were going. At opportune moments he would nudge the air staff with positive input or suggestions.

Bud was the first real self-starter I’d ever encountered in the business. During my tenure at the station, he held exactly one staff meeting. That was the day he arrived, when he told us we didn’t have to worry about losing our jobs.

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