I Wanna Be A PD ... But What Do They Do???
June 7, 2016
The job is the same no matter what the title. OM or PD used to be the label for programmers. Recently new monikers such as Brand Manager and Director of Programming have been added to the program department menu. Regardless of the designated programming title, well-defined duties are still a mystery to many staff employees, especially the air personalities. Once at a station I was programming, I overheard someone ask, "What does Sam do? He's always talking on the phone, texting, playing on the computer, and taking late lunches."
I'll bet a lot of you can relate because you've heard similar statements. Much of what some mistake as goofing off, is a part of the process for planning on a daily, weekly and future basis. There is a lot of mental juggling going on; ratings strategy, in-house politics, music rotations, and helping sales with client marketing needs. The job is in a constant state of flux and requires an objective, flexible person well versed in the art of reality and sleight of hand.
The Air Personality Guide to The OM/PD Brain
Programming is half content and half presentation; it requires understanding the target audience and delivering to their expectations. PDs try to deliver a compelling product and provide the right music, a morning show to lead the way, a complementary sound in other dayparts, and marketing. Competition for consumers is fierce. You are up against other stations and clusters in the market, the Internet, online radio, social media, television, school, computer games, jobs, lifestyles, and a host of other things being invented as I write this. OM/PDs are in a 24-hour state of planning and here are some of the things they might be working on or dealing with:
- Checking the daily commercial and technical discrepancy logs/sheets.
- Analyzing music research.
- Evaluating goals, opportunities, and strategies to maximize efforts to maintain or improve ratings. (Some actually have budgets for Perceptual research and those with media monitors in PPM markets can really dig in and micro-analyze.)
- Making sure promotions are on target for active and passive listeners.
- Checking on the current live liners and promos; they might need refreshing.
- Maybe there was a glitch in the computer system causing problems with the relays for the commercial breaks in the syndicated morning show. The PD will need his engineer, the traffic department, and the technical person at the origin for the syndicated feed.
- Working on the next big promotion and how sales can tie in the client.
- Maybe there is a value-added client promotion the Sales Manager wants a plan for.
- Setting up a plan with the Promotions Department for seasonal and holiday promotions.
- Making sure the in-house Internship program is functioning properly.
- Checking with the Webmaster to ensure the station's site is memorable and up to date; it should be compelling for both the core and non P-1s (passive listeners). The site should be topical, interactive, and fresh with fresh timely content. Sometimes the PD is the Webmaster.
- Double-checking on the weekend special programming features; are they being downloaded properly and did the correct week air over the weekend?
- Adding or subtracting things for next year's programming budget.
- Massaging tomorrow's music log because the MD has been slacking a bit lately.
- Dealing with air staff issues; the midday person has a cold, the afternoon personality is upset with the Production Director, and the GM thinks the new night guy needs to spruce up his image at personal appearances.
- The consultant is flying in and wants to be chauffeured around.
- Music has to be selected for the upcoming auditorium test to be conducted on behalf of the station.
- Problems have occurred because a jock had to handle a problem at a client remote because the salesperson was not there. Several issues have to be hashed out.
- One of the listeners has a complaint about a song and needs to vent.
- The GM wants you to meet with someone concerning a project with the Chamber of Commerce.
- Need to meet with the MD and revise music rotations.
- Planning individual meetings with the air staff to critique their airchecks/demos.
- Need to have the Promotions Department revise the street team schedule.
- Plan a strategic meeting for the upcoming TV commercials and billboard blitz.
The Never Ending List
The list of things to do becomes a bottomless pit with new items constantly being added. Please understand that the OM/PD is not just sitting in his or her office merely listening to music or playing solitaire on the computer. The OM/PD job is a revolving door of problem solving and planning. The moral of the story is to stay in your lane as a personality and concentrate on your specific duties and if you have a question or want a better understanding of something, just ask.
It's All About Timing
If it is not a good time for your OM/PD to answer something, gently inquire when a good time might be. Once your boss finds out you are interested in how things work, he/she might start using you as a sounding board on some issues. It really is all for one and one for all; however, air talent needs to understand the OM/PDs mission is to oversee a successful plan from every angle; many times they are not being aloof, just in a state of solution.