How an air-conditioning mechanic in Sydney Australia became an award winning broadcaster in Britain; Part 136.

04Dec14

Sorry seems to be the hardest word.

At one of the first Morning Show Boot Camps I attended in the USA, there was a session called “What To Do When You Mess Up”. On the panel were members of on-air teams that had made BIG mistakes. One show had used the ‘N’ word on the air resulting in an advertiser boycott, another had aired a voicemail left on a listener’s phone which caused the person who left the message to commit suicide and there was a show that had seriously injured an intern when a stunt went horribly wrong.

The hosts talked about what happened before, during and after the events and how their employers reacted. In all cases, their bosses told them not to apologize. They all agreed that this was very bad advice. They were all originally told that the people they worked for would stand by them if they did as the company lawyers asked but when the pressure from advertisers, regulators and community groups became too much, their bosses fired them all anyway to save their own skins.

The presenters said that if you make a really big mistake, you WILL get fired from that job but if you want to work in radio again, you can save your career if you issue a genuine heartfelt apology for the mistake you made and the distress it caused. In all three cases, the results of what went wrong were unintended consequences and the people involved were genuinely sorry. They should have got out in front of the story and said that first.

Within weeks of getting back to England, the radio station I was working for made a massive mistake. In this case, it was the manager, not the presenter that took the fall.

A stunt went wrong and a number of listeners were injured and hospitalised. The manager was interviewed by the local paper. Instead of an apology, they stressed that the listeners who were hurt had all signed disclaimers.

I don’t know what happened to that manager, they don’t work in radio anymore.

Craic on!

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