I Want To Apply For PD Jobs And I'm Not Sure How...
October 14, 2014
When it comes to writing about certain topics, I feel as though I am repeating myself. However as someone reminded me the other day, some things need to be addressed from time to time because of all the new people who want to know. After thinking about it, I realized it is a lot like getting a fresh crop of 9th graders every year and the teacher reviews the previous year's class to determine how much they learned in 8th grade. My analogy comes from my grandmother, who taught 4th grade for most of her 44 years of teaching. She used to say, "If I don't know where they have been with what they have learned, I won't know what to teach them now."
I know for many of you some of the topics I cover are a reminder, but for many, it might be the first time they've heard the information. My inspiration this week is currently an APD/MD who has hopes of becoming a PD.
APD: I have been in radio for nine years and three of them as APD/MD. I am also on the air doing afternoons. I see programming jobs available and my dream is to program. But I do not want to jeopardize my job here by asking my PD about how to apply at other places. I mean he is cool and all, but I don't want mess anything up here.
Coach: I can see your point and in playing the percentages, you are probably right by not asking him. So fire away, ask me anything you would like.
APD: What kinds of things do I need to be ready for when I apply? I have seen what my boss does and I know he works on a whole bunch of things.
Coach: First of all, you need to put on paper your programming philosophy and cover every subject and department from music philosophy to dealing with traffic.
APD: I am not sure I know enough to cover everything.
Coach: Then I suggest you begin learning by taking people in various departments out to lunch and learn what they do. But you have to do it in such a way as to not become a topic of conversation around the station from your actions. A good programmer is a master of some things or knows enough about a subject to able to ask an authority the correct questions on topics.
APD: Got it. I need to ask, if I get to the interview, would I be talking to a GM?
Coach: These days a lot stations and companies have a selection process and a team of people you might have to talk to. You might have to talk to the station consultant, VP/Programming, Regional VP/Marketing, the local GM, an OM, local GSM, and the owner in the case of an independent.
APD: That is a lot of people.
Coach: You're right, but the companies are just trying to make a good decision.
APD: You mentioned writing down my programming philosophy and to include my thoughts on everything. Could you be more specific?
Coach: Be prepared to discuss everything you have written. The easy part will be writing down your thoughts on:
- Research (music callout/auditorium testing/perceptual)
- Music (How to select and how to apply research)
- Station Sound and Formatics
- Staff (Working with air staff)
- Knowledge of Nielsen Audio PPM and Diary methodologies
- Working with Sales
- Community involvement
- Interactive/social media experience
APD: That is a lot of stuff.
Coach: There is more; I am just warming up. You need to be ready to address:
- The important elements of a successful radio station
- Describe your potential future employer's typical listener for the format or formats
- Explain format challenges for the future
- Explain the most effective promotion you have been involved with
- Explain the role you think a VP/Programming or consultant should have
- Your thoughts on sales promotions
- Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your station and the competitions
- How you would measure your success and the stations
- Explain what a typical work day might be like for you
- Describe a big decision you've made and your process to do so
- What kind of leader you are
- What has been your biggest challenge in radio
- Your philosophy on dealing with difficult employees
- A mistake you have made with a fellow staffer in the past and how you handled it
- What motivates you
- How do you motive others
- How do you handle anger with others
- Give a recent example of a difference of opinion with your boss and how it was resolved
- Describe the best person you ever worked with
- Describe the craziest thing you've ever done in this business
- Give them you pet peeves
- How you would make improvements to your current job
- Evaluate the station or stations you are interviewing for.
APD: Damn, I am not sure I can do this.
Coach: Take your time and organize your thoughts, you probably have taken for granted all the things you know how to do or have an opinion on. If it makes you feel any better, I was overwhelmed the first time someone told me to do what I am suggesting to you. But I suggest you do this before you apply for any PD gig.
APD: By the way, what's a Brand Manager?
Coach: A PD with a title which explains what many PDs and OMs are responsible for. It's a new way of saying something, sort of like when Nielsen, formerly Arbitron, refers to person-to-person canvassing to match addresses to cell phone numbers. It's a fancy way of saying door-to-door.
APD: I have a lot of work to do.
Coach: No worries, if you get to the interview process once you start applying, you'll get a better understanding.
In my lifetime, I interviewed for a lot of OM and PD jobs -- some I got and some I did not. You will get stronger and better focused after you put on paper how you think and what you know. We are all a result of what we have been exposed to. Over the years, I have collected a multitude of potential questions to be ready for when interviewed for radio programming jobs. You know more than you think you do; just get busy and start to formalize everything. Also if it is possible, find an experienced PD or GM to guide and mentor you.