Updated March 29 at 5:29pm

Steering a steady course through turbulent waters

By Rhonda J. Miller
PBN Staff Writer

Amid changing ownership, competition and technology propelling radio through dramatic transformation, Cumulus Broadcasting Market Manager Barbara Haynes has maintained a clear vision for her career path.

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Steering a steady course through turbulent waters


Amid changing ownership, competition and technology propelling radio through dramatic transformation, Cumulus Broadcasting Market Manager Barbara Haynes has maintained a clear vision for her career path.

“Ownership changes can be hard, and in my career they happened early and often,” she said. “I got OK with that and I didn’t resist them.”

That attitude is an important part of her resilience, since her position as market manager, equivalent to general manager, of Cumulus Broadcasting in the region has a broad range of responsibilities across a spectrum of genres. She oversees five radio stations – WPRO-FM 630/99.7, WPRV-AM 790, 92 PRO FM, WWLI-FM Lite Rock 105 and WWKX-FM Hot 106 – with formats that range from news talk to light rock.

“I think the way I manage stress is to understand that things don’t always go your way,” said Haynes, who has worked in radio for more than 30 years and whose career has spanned five ownership changes and multiple staff changes at three different facilities in the metro Providence radio market. “I was always able to bear down and find the energy to move forward,” said Haynes, who has been a key manager for Citadel Broadcasting and then for Cumulus Broadcasting once it purchased Citadel in 2011 and has management responsibilities that include programming, sales, business and technical operations.

“I’ve been working in the same market, so it’s all about reputation,” said Haynes, a native Rhode Islander. “I was honest, I worked hard and at various times, I got coaches.”

An essential element of success, said Haynes, is finding the right path, which she did soon after she got a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1980 from the University of Rhode Island.

“At that time, radio stations had to have a position doing community ascertainment – finding out what the community needed and executing it on the air,” she said. After starting her career in radio with that community work, she moved into sales.

“Very soon after I got into sales, I wanted to be sales manager,” said Haynes. “Then I wanted more, I wanted to be general manager,” said Haynes.

She continued to rise through management positions.

“With all due respect for people in those positions, I could see myself doing them,” said Haynes. “I was clear about the way I wanted to do them. I had a clear vision for leading the organization.”

Cumulus Broadcasting Director of Sales Joe Lembo has worked in the metro Providence market for more than 30 years, and with Haynes for 16 of those years, including the last 12.

“In each of her managerial roles, starting with her fifth year in the business, she has been a leader to the many who rely on her direction,” said Lembo.

He points to the way Haynes led a team of marketing professionals through the 1990s at WHJY/WHJJ, with a record number of years as the top billing station in sales, as well as the top-rated station in the market.

“Barbara has been responsible for radio stations that are No. 1 in sales in the market year after year,” said Lembo.

With Citadel Broadcasting’s five stations, and its acquisition by Cumulus in 2011, Haynes has continued to “bring a high level of enthusiasm, leadership, guidance and mentoring to so many people in and around the organization,” said Lembo.

“Currently, this radio group is the No. 1 revenue cluster in Rhode Island, by almost a two-to-one margin, and many of these stations are No. 1 in their segment for ratings,” said Lembo.

Cumulus Broadcasting has about 100 full- and part-time employees, and Haynes’ leadership style is through engagement, compassion and support, said Lembo.

“Barbara inspires people and encourages them to maximize their potential,” said Lembo. “People tend to want to stay and work with her, but if they do leave for an opportunity that advances their careers, it’s usually because she’s encouraged them to develop their talents and skills.”

Her agility and development in adapting to change, motivating people and providing the services of the radio stations makes Haynes particularly noteworthy as a leader, he said.

From her perspective, the complexities of broad responsibilities are managed by hiring talented people who are able to meet the challenges and maximize the potential of change, she said.

The other element that’s driven Haynes is her dedication to community service. Among her many community activities is her work over the past 10 years spearheading media relations for the Hasbro Children’s Hospital Radio-Thon, which has raised $6.5 million.

That long-term project has roots deep in her own childhood.

“I had a brother who died of brain cancer when he was 13,” said Haynes, who was a teenager at the time. “That’s one reason I want to make a difference. It’s so good to be part of so many people coming together for the children’s hospital – the doctors and nurses, the moms and dads, and the kids themselves.”

Haynes had found her work in radio a good platform to encourage giving back to the community and supporting business.

Then there’s the essential element of her continuing achievements.

“I believe to have real success you have to really enjoy the day-to-day process of what you do. You have to come to work with a grateful heart every day,” said Haynes. “I’ve been in the same field my whole career and I love it. It’s fascinating work, and it changes constantly.” •


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