The Broadcasters' Desktop Resource

Really Communicating with Managers

Dana Puopolo author

[April 2024] Broadcasting is the business of communication. So, why are we unable to communicate with our co-workers or bosses all too often?

A timeless adage suggests men are from Mars and women from Venus, emphasizing the vast differences between individuals. However, this contrast is not confined to personal relationships; it extends to professional realms, notably between General Managers (GMs) and Engineers.

Engineers are often frustrated when discussing a technical issue with the GM. They do not understand the importance or timing of an issue. All they seem to care about is the budget – and avoiding surprise expenses.

In return, the GM is frustrated with the engineer. He does not understand why something is important enough to deal with. Can it not wait until next year?

Navigating the Communication Gap

GMs hail from sales backgrounds and are fluent in the language of salesmanship, leaving them bewildered when faced with technical jargon.

Bridging this communication chasm is essential for effective collaboration.

So, let’s look at some actionable strategies that will help us successfully communicate the issue and the recommended solution.

Building A Bridge

I will start with a narrative – part of my experience with a cherished client.

Skip owned radio stations in Northern Maine. I discovered his profound passion for automobiles during our initial meeting at his GM car dealership. His devotion to cars was palpable.

Recognizing this, I tailored my communication about radio engineering to align with automotive concepts.

For example, our AM transmitter needed new tubes. Rather than discussing the emission levels and antenna current readings, I explained that tubes are like tires on a car: they wear out and need to be replaced occasionally. The GM grasped that and immediately approved the purchase.

Another owner was focused on his sales. He had purchased a station for which I had done a proof a couple of years earlier. But when he called, he was upset that the station sounded terrible. It was quickly apparent to the engineer (me) that the tubes were worn out. At first, this was met by “can’t you just fix the old tubes?”

Before replying, I took a beat and realized where his thought pattern was situated. So, I turned the conversation to his sales work. “You wouldn’t drive a 20-year-old clunker to a sales meeting, would you? You’d be afraid the car would break down – or worse, the client would see the care and decide not to buy from you.”

He was listening.

Going on, I said, “You rightly spend a lot of money maintaining your car, so it will run when you want to need it. If you do not maintain your transmitter, you won’t make enough money to keep your car in good shape.

The new tubes were authorized.

These simple adjustments fostered solid and enduring partnerships with the owners, and these anecdotes illustrate the power of finding a common language.

Enhancing Connections with Managers

Finding common ground can take various forms.

Understanding your boss on a deeper level and leveraging that knowledge to improve communication is paramount, elevating your value within the organization.

Some engineers engage with their GMs in recreational activities like racquetball or Pickle Ball. Others opt for regular lunches away from the office. Any effort to enhance mutual understanding is beneficial, both in and out of the workplace.

Over time, I have cultivated several enduring relationships with GMs and sales managers, many of whom I now consider personal friends.


Building on the Relationship

Personal connections can extend beyond shared interests to shared acquaintances within the industry.

As my mentor, Dan Griffin, wisely noted, “There are the same 100 people in radio.” Recognizing these connections can foster a sense of familiarity and trust. For instance, discovering that my current boss at Univision had ties to a former colleague in Boston facilitated a sense of reassurance for him, knowing he had hired someone endorsed by a respected industry peer.

Ultimately, as Skip adored his cars, most engineers harbor a fervent love for technology. Strengthening relationships and communication skills with colleagues, superiors, and family members is crucial. While it may feel uncomfortable initially, practice and persistence are key. Remember, this process is iterative, so proceed at your own pace.

In essence, by fostering better communication and understanding, we enhance professional collaborations and enrich our personal and professional lives.

– – –

Dana Puopolo, now the Director of Technology at Televisa-Univision in Boston, has been in markets large and small. His emphasis on audio purity is well-known. You can reach Dana at

– – –


Would you like to know when more articles like this are published? It will take only 30 seconds to

click here and add your name to our secure one-time-a-week Newsletter list.

Your address is never given out to anyone.

– – –

Return to The BDR Menu