Getting a radio station on the air: a leadership learning experience.


Over the years I have been involved in a number of businesses and community organizations. It has become clear that doing worthwhile/meaningful work--an outgrowth of my desire to make a difference--is a driving force in my leadership point of view. This was certainly true during my involvement in community radio in Australia. I'd been involved in the activities of my local city council. Although I had been asked to run for a higher local office, I could not get passionate about it.

Then one day Peggy Womersley, the mayor of the city, approached me about another possibility. The city had invested considerable money in developing a local radio station. The station was to serve two purposes. First, it was to be a community base to broadcast radio shows for groups ranging from religious organizations to special ethnic programs. Second, it was to be a training base for communication students.

The station was well behind its plan both financially and functionally. The council was considering abandoning the project. Peggy asked me to take on the job of chairman of the board of the station, even though I had no radio experience. If I accepted the position, I had six months to raise enough funds from the community to be viable and get the station on the air.

I recognized this as an opportunity to make a difference. Although the station had debt and there was infighting within the volunteer group. I saw this as challenging, worthwhile work. The...

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