Time To Change Your Title
June 28, 2016
Radio job titles used to describe the responsibilities they encompassed.
A Program Director used to hire a talented staff, assign their work shifts, program the music, create contests and/or promotions, connect strategy and tactics, and give consistent, daily coaching feedback on what was working and what needed to change.
Now, PDs are required to do an air shift, and many run more than one station.
Plus, s/he also now usually oversees website content and updates and attends several meetings daily to help Sales and Promotion find ideas they can take to clients to create enough value-added crapola that their station gets in on the buy, because in Radio, ratings don't matter.
BTW, Radio is the only medium that apologizes for its ratings success.
No client pays extra to be on during the hugely inflated listening which playing Christmas music creates for AC stations in every market in America.
Nielsen calls it a "Holiday" month and most agencies just don't buy it.
And we not only allow that, we pay embarrassingly large sums of money to let them do this to us! We fund it!
TV networks don't apologize for the hugely inflated viewing they get for airing the Super Bowl. They charge extra for it.
Advertisers have to book time months in advance. FOX is already booking time for the 2017 Super Bowl - and at rates higher than last year's.
I just spewed hot tea out of my nose as I read that out loud.
Most radio don't even command a premium to be sponsors of Christmas music, and if a client has a spot that features a grizzly bear farting underwater, and they'll pay top rate, it's on the air, every hour.
Tell me I'm wrong. Please.
Sorry. The apologizing for ratings thing always makes me nuts. Anyway, back to job titles...
PDs in most of the largest consolidated groups don't really direct programs these days. They don't have time. Many don't have the authority.
In most stations, air talent gets no coaching whatsoever.
Thinking? Planning? Strategizing? Creating? Hah! Surely you jest!
NPR has tried to align reality with titles by creating Chief Content Officers. These employees are responsible for running all departments that create content, for the radio and the website.
But NPR is still actually producing content besides music, and you can't say that about very many commercial music stations today.
And, to be honest, the success of the CCOs at NPR is spotty so far. Some have totally energized their local content on-air and on their websites, but many quickly became bogged down in the bureaucracy resistant to any change.
At most of the large consolidated radio companies, you have very little say in what your website looks like and features; you have no say in which shows are local, voicetracked, or promoted, and obviously no ability to coach or direct the talent on those shows.
You probably don't control the contests you air, or the prizes, or even the promos.
You don't pick the music, hire all of the air staff, or have any veto power over promotions.
You are told how many spots you will run each hour, and it can change daily when your station is behind its dictated revenue goals.
Yet you are held responsible if ratings decline.
So, maybe "PD" should be something like "ID": Implementation Drone. Isn't that more reflective of the actual job?
I am not denigrating the talent or work ethic of the people who have this job today.
Many -- probably most -- of them could produce a far better station if left to their own instincts and experience.
But it's absurd to say they're in charge of programming when we -- and they -- know they are not. That title is only used to justify dismissal by some higher-up when convenient.
It's time to go back to the drawing board for "GMs," too, at the consolidated bankrupt behemoths.
Most are told what their revenues will be, regardless of market conditions, dictating how large their staff can be, and who they can afford to hire.
Their main responsibility is to answer that daily phone call verifying the random number selected as their measuring stick of success. Miss it often and they are gone.
Talk about over-worked and under-appreciated!
So one of these might be more accurate: "CABS": Chief Annual Budget-Slasher; "VPRD": Vice President of Reality Distortion; or, "GCT": General Corporate Toady.
Maybe if those at the very top of the compensation food chain let local managers and programmers actually have the authority that should go with the responsibility -- with the title -- Radio's piece of the advertising pie would grow faster?
This top-down thing sure isn't fun for those who do the actual work.