The New Norm ... One Person Wearing A Lot Of Hats
April 14, 2015
Regardless of how much we try and keep things the same, change is a constant in our lives. Sometimes it's the McDonalds on the corner where there used to be a Walgreens; Larry the mailman retired and his replacement is named Sylvia; cart machines have been replaced by automation systems; radios are out but smartphones with music and radio apps are in; and slowly the title of PD has morphed to Brand Manager and Director of Programming.
With change there comes new ideas … or old ones with a fresh coat of paint, such as instead of "Record and Play," voicetracking is now the accepted term. We quietly transitioned Churban to Top 40/Rhythmic. One of the hardest adjustments for the daily structure of radio has been less staff and increased responsibilities for individuals. Can you imagine a baseball team deciding to eliminate the position of shortstop and handing over the duties to the third baseman to cover more ground and both positions? It would be difficult and there would be a loss of efficiency, but a new level of standards would become acceptable.
One of the best lessons I ever learned was the time my MD/PM-drive person resigned and the Promotions Director decided to take a job at another station. Ownership and management put a hiring freeze on and I was left to scramble. In addition to my OM/morning-drive duties, I took over the MD chores, had my best part-timer fill for afternoons, and promotions became my domain.
This temporary solution lasted for 29 weeks. I can remember because I began marking off days on the calendar like a prisoner counting down the time towards release. During this period, I lost out on two MDs and three personalities who took other jobs because they could not wait any longer to become a part of our radio family. Meanwhile, I became more structured and regimented in order to do my job and the others thrust upon me. Interns with board op skills became valuable for my air shift, especially towards the weekends with all the music logs for two stations and my marked boxes of giveaways for the various remotes scheduled. Sleeping became an unconscious appointment to meet with myself and make sure everything was taken care of.
What seemed to be an odd way to operate a station, at the time, has now become an industry standard in the consolidated radio world. My glimpse of the future has always made me sensitive to the plight of others with multiple duties beyond anything originally imaged by the radio Gods.
This air personality/MD-turned-PD has been given a huge responsibility and hopefully our numerous e-mail exchanges have helped.
PD: You know my goals were always to program and you always encouraged me to learn what everyone does at our cluster, but I never expected to wind up with anything other than a PD job. Here I am also now doing promotions, too, and the way I understand it, they are not replacing my position. In other words, I will be my own MD.
Coach: That is lot of stuff. So you are PM drive, PD/MD/Promotions Director. Talk to me … how can I help?
PD: Hey, I can handle doing the music logs, but the promotions stuff involves a lot of marketing and meetings. To tell you the truth, I have helped set up remotes and stuff like that, but until the company figures out what they want to do about the promotions position, I think I can handle remotes. However, I have to deal with special event stuff and I have no idea how those are put together.
Coach: Did your boss indicate how long it might take to hire someone for Promotions Director?
PD: No, which means it could be a while. Being in events and putting them on is totally different. You know this is not a large market and our cluster only had the one promotions person for all our stations.
Coach: Does that mean you'll also have to do promotions for your sister stations, too?
PD: No, the other PDs are in the same boat as me and will have to do promotions for their stations. It is kind of chaotic and a lot of us are unhappy. None of us mind pitching in, but come on. I forgot to mention that part of the promotions job also means updating our website.
Coach: You sound a little overwhelmed, so I will ask again, did you need me to give you some advice or did you just need to have someone listen to you?
PD: Sorry, I know I must sound like a mess.
Coach: It's okay the special event thing is throwing you off. I meant to ask, can you call the Promotions Director who just left for some direction?
PD: No, he is still ticked off about several things including money. It has been three weeks and he hasn't returned anyone's calls.
Coach: I get the picture, if you have not already, you and your fellow PDs need to compare notes. Have any of them ever been a promotions director?
Coach: Then feel free to share my keys for executing special events.
- Organization. You must organize from day 1 until the end of the promotion. If you are confused, your event will be chaotic and full of confusion. Every aspect of the event needs to be organized. Follow the paper trail.
- Communication. All departments must be aware of what's going on at all times. When any department is not aware of an event it increases the possibility for confusion and poor execution.
- Delegation. Don't be afraid to put things in the hands of others. You can't do it alone; use your staff. Give them assignments and duties. This will free up time to handle any necessary fixes for the event and also give you time to get all of your regular work done.
- Preparation. Have planning meeting in person or by conference call every week and daily update meeting with all persons involved and the sales staff. Be prepared for the unexpected. Always have a Plan B, C and D!
- Dedication. It is going to take a lot of long hours and a couple of sleepless nights. Don't get frustrated, stay focused, and see the event through the end.
PD: This will help, but could you also e-mail or scan me an outline or two of special event-type guidelines? Stuff like insurance and dealing with promoters and client events. I would appreciate it so much. I feel like I am being pushy, but how effectively can I program and do all the things expected of me around here? I mean our website is a job in itself. Am I making a big deal out of nothing?
Coach: You are fine and your concerns are justified. It will be easier to talk to you about some of this rather than write it all down, so let's set a time to talk. Meanwhile, start thinking about how to organize your time and finding staff who can step up. What you lack in experience can be made up for by planning and networking on Facebook or LinkedIn with experience programmers. My friend, you are about to get on-the-job training without a practice run. Buckle up and try and also budget some time for you to think and be yourself.
PD: I am looking forward to talking with you. I feel better but stressed; there is so much stuff I am supposed to know.