So what have I learned by watching more than my fair share of Kitchen Nightmares?
1. Add some spice to the menu
Chef Ramsey kicks off each episode by dining on some of the culinary favorites of the troubled restaurant only to express his disgust – in the most entertaining manner possible.
One of his quickest fixes is to add one or two specialties to the menu. These special "features" are the equivalent of destination programming in an otherwise bland menu.
Are you nixing your "features" for the sake of "consistency"?
2. Specialize in something
If barbeque is your specialty but you're not calling yourself a barbeque restaurant, then…duh. If you make the best meatballs in New Jersey, say so.
So many radio stations are puzzled by the complexity of their positioning, or lack thereof. What does a Hot AC stand for, anyway? Well the answer had better be…something.
3. Take pride in what you do
Ramsay always scolds the managers, chefs, or cooks who are lazy or uninspired, happy to put out mediocre food without the slightest twinge of guilt.
How many radio stations are viewed as cash cow music machines by the managers who run them or the owners who own them? Audience popularity is a privilege, not a right. You need to earn over and over again it every day.
4. Use fresh ingredients
Ramsay always tours the neighborhood in search of locally grown specialties. He abhors anything frozen.
But what do you call a promotion that worked the first dozen times you ran it but works no longer?
5. Change the environment
Ramsay's zealous crew spends a night renovating the restaurant to freshen its look and integrate its design with its theme.
When was the last time your station was renovated?
6. Hire a good chef
Some of Ramsay's victim restaurants are full of cooks but absent a chef. But every restaurant needs a chef, just as every radio brand needs someone to anchor the content.
What do you call a chef whose efforts are spread across too many restaurants – or a programmer whose efforts stretch across too many stations?
7. Do it with passion
Good enough doesn't cut it. If you don't love being in the kitchen then go stand some other kind of heat.
It is my opinion that the constant tone of fear in the radio industry is fundamentally harmful to us all. Our choice is not to be ignorant of reality, but to view this time for what it is: An opportunity to transform our industry for a new era.
To paraphrase a future president, we are the change we have been waiting for.
Do it with passion.