Sun Tzu would have made a great Program Director! – Part 2

By David Kidd, BPR

The great military strategist Sun Tzu knew that knowledge is power when he said:

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

Self-belief without self-knowledge is a dangerous thing. Knowing yourself without knowing the other side is also dangerous.

From a program director’s perspective, not only must you know everything you can about your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses but you must also be aware of your station’s strengths and weaknesses.

Sure, confidence in your abilities to craft a great radio station is a powerful tool but it must be tempered by the awareness of your, your team’s and your station’s limitations.

To do otherwise is delusional.

I’ve heard program directors say

  • We have a better breakfast show, its just not getting traction
  • Our music is better programmed, my music director “understands” the audience
  • We have better promotions, our prizes are bigger
  • Our digital platforms are better


But in reality, sometimes they are not better in the minds of the audience. In their minds…..the ones that matter…..your competitor may be the one doing a better job.

In radio, the battle being fought is for ownership of the listeners’ minds, their perceptions of each station in the market.

Its what they think about your radio station that matters…not what you think…not what your partner or your friends think…. all that matters is what the listener thinks.

To win the battle, you must find out not only what the listeners think about your competitor (what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong, their points of weakness and any potential opportunities for your station) but you must face the brutal truth and find out what they think about your station…where must you improve and what you must protect.

Perhaps when Sun Tzu said “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles” over 2,000 years ago, he unknowingly crowned himself the “godfather” of the perceptual or strategic study which has been used by radio stations for decades to better understand both their competitors and themselves.


How well do you know your competitors? How well do you know yourself?



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