Program Directors Retire!
April 28, 2014
If we really believe what we say about being platform agnostic, then it’s time to retire the title of program director.Â To start with, for many outside the radio business, the title connotes someone pointing at on-air talent or something like that.Â But, more importantly, in the face of increasing online presence, multiple streams, smartphone apps, etc., the title would have that person focused on only the narrowest of assets relevant to a station.Â
Years ago, a colleague of ours got a few managers to flip the PD title to “Listener Advocate,” since the person the PD should spend the most time thinking about is, in fact, the listener.Â While that title made sense then, it’s less relevant today.Â The relevant title today is cribbed from the online world: Director of User Experience.
A manager focused on that title would be concerned about not only what comes out of the speakers on the terrestrial and other streams, but also on look and feel of the station’s web presence, the station’s look and feel â€“ and responsiveness â€“ in the social space, its mobile apps, the way a user (listener) is treated when he or she contacts the station through any channel â€“ phone, web, mobile, USPS.Â The Director of User Experience would care about all interactions a user (often, listener) has with a “station.”Â
The Director of User Experience would, for example:
- Listen, of course, to the station’s terrestrial signal to evaluate the experience a user would have.
- Listen to the station’s HD channels to evaluate the experience a user would have.
- Regularly listen to the station’s terrestrial signal and HD channels out to the edges of the station’s metro or service area.
- Listen to the station’s online stream(s) to evaluate the experience a user would have.
- Regularly call in to the station on any number that a listener might use to see if the number is being answered courteously and in a reasonable amount of time.
- Send a complaint letter from a friend’s address to the station once a quarter to see if anyone responds.
- Use another name to post comments on the station’s social media accounts to see if the opportunity for connection is used well.
- Search the station’s website for information that listeners might want, to see if it’s easy to get the info.
- Install any station apps on the smartphone of a friend or spouse â€“ to see if it’s easy and pleasant.Â
- Listen carefully to all station on-air talent to see if they’re entertaining, interesting or informative for someone who’s just now tuned in to the station for the very first time.Â
- Listen carefully to the between-the-songs production that the station plays to see if it’s entertaining, interesting or informative for someone who’s just now tuned in to the station for the very first time.Â
- Monitor media, websites, social media portals, etc. regularly used by consumers the station is targeting to make sure the station is reflecting the culture that listeners regularly experience.
- Think about the metamessage that comes through the station’s presence on-air, online, social media, etc.Â Is it the intended overall message or feeling?Â Is it consistent with the station’s goals and strategy?Â
- Understand thoroughly all the metrics available, from Nielsen Audio to Facebook to the website and beyond; all represent connections with consumers and help to evaluate the user experience.
- Compare the experiences of using the station through its various portals with the experiences of using the station’s primary competitors â€“ including those without transmitters.Â
Most operators long ago retired the title Disc Jockey.Â We think it’s time Program Director was retired as well.Â Long live the PD!