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THE BRIEFING: THE BOSS’ MANAGEMENT STRATEGY

THE BRIEFING THE BOSS’ MANAGEMENT STRATEGY Dave Armstrong knows radio. So when he was asked by Camarillo-based Salem Communications Inc. to turn struggling Glendale talk radio station KIEV-AM around, he knew he had a tough job ahead. As KIEV, the station was known for oldies music and low ratings. But within two years, the station, now KRLA-AM, went from the bottom of the ratings heap to the middle of the pack, doubling its revenue at the same time. A big part of the turnaround was Armstrong’s success at recruiting on-air personalities like former TV talk show host Dennis Prager, PBS film critic Michael Medved and former Reagan advisor Hugh Hewitt. Armstrong talked recently with Business Journal reporter Carlos Martinez about what was involved with the turnaround. “We got personalities that people could respond to and that was the start. We got Hugh Hewitt, who is well known in Los Angeles from his work on KCET, and then we got Dennis Prager. But you never know how people are going to react to new personalities. You have to wait and see if it works. “The significance of talk radio is that people are getting involved in what other people are doing. We invite you to get involved and we have these open phone lines and ask people how they feel. That’s what we wanted to do from the beginning. Our philosophy is that if we can get people involved, then the ratings are a byproduct of that. So if we don’t do that, we’re not going to be successful. “We try to be as involved as possible in the community because we recognize we’re a part of it. So we started hosting events and participating in others. “While we have some syndicated shows that are on all over the country, most people don’t care that we’re talking to a broad audience. They just love the personalities. We really made a big push when we got Dennis. We put a lot of ads on billboards, buses and we basically told people he was at KRLA and people responded. “They like to hear what he has to say and the way he says it. I knew people would respond to him so, when he became available, we just jumped at the chance and he came over. “The same thing is true about (film critic) Michael Medved. He has a way of communicating with people. People think it’s easy to just sit there and talk to people when you’re on the radio. But it’s not. It’s even harder to keep an audience and have them coming back.”

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