Just In Time Is Not On time
March 5, 2013
The first thing I ask a jock is what time do you get to the station before your air shift. These days it is not surprising to hear the words, "Fifteen minutes before airtime." Unless this arrival time is a program directive, I always tell them to get there at least an hour before their shift for a number of reasons -- to get settled, read memos, check with production, poke your head into the PD's office, and most important, get ready mentally for show time.
Are You Ready For Your Show?
Prep for your show at least an hour before going on; these days there are no newsrooms at music stations, so you have to check the Internet for news such as the weather and up-to-the-minute blockbuster information. Don't get lazy and do your prep during your show. The verdict is out, but studies are showing that multi-tasking is a myth; trying to do more than one task at a time results in poor performance on all tasks.
Do your homework. Read up on the artists and their music. Find out what is happening now; both with the artists and their genre. Find out what your listeners are interested in.
Keep this information handy on your computer or smartphone. You can also do it old-school style and keep it in a card file. No matter how you store it, make sure you never leave for work without it and review it so you can readily recall and use the information on air.
The bottom line; If you can not put a legitimate part of yourself into your work, the audience will not buy into you.
Program Directors: Air Talent And The Front Office
I was recently asked what it takes to be a program director. There was a time you had to work through the ranks; air work, performing programming department jobs like production or music director, and work in a few markets along the way. However, the new way of doing things seems to be to promote promising individuals before they are ready. In baseball, when a team manager with little experience is selected, a seasoned person is hired in an advisory capacity as a bench coach. Such a support system does not exist in the majority of in-house radio situations. It is not that these newbie PDs are not highly driven and intelligent, but most lack the knowledge base for many situations. Having a VP/Programming or consultant is great, but they don't see the daily minute to minute details that can make or break success.
Therefore, I recommend to those interested in programming to learn as much as possible about each department of a station or cluster. Make sure you understand the whole process of what and how music and commercials get to the air. Observe your PD, learn the station's music scheduling system, and connect with PDs by phone or social media for mentoring. Tell them you want to learn what it takes to become a program director.