Thursday, August 23, 2012

On Programming Success, Skill Sets and Sharing: RadioInk’s “Five Killer Questions for Five Great Consultants”

A “thank you” to RadioInk for including me in their August 6th article, “Five Killer Questions for Five Great Consultants.”

It was an honor (and fun) to share pages with Gary Berkowitz, Alan Burns, Fred Jacobs, and Randy Lane...all smart, passionate about what they do, and generous in sharing what they know.

If you don’t know them yet, you should.

With just a bit of editing (particularly on the last question), here are my responses to the questions posed by Radioink’s Editor In Chief Ed Ryan. Feel free to share your thoughts as well.

What does it take to succeed on the programming side today?

From a product standpoint, focus on the user-experience. Spend a lot of time learning everything you can about your listeners. Use your knowledge and creativity to create a station that’s so fun, interesting, uplifting, informative, entertaining, surprising, imaginative, interactive and ‘in the moment’ that listeners want to listen to listen to everyday and every daypart whether they can or not. 

Spend a lot of time with your talent, imaging, music, promotions and listening critically. 

Balance creativity with your overall strategy. 

From a management standpoint, prioritize and do what’s important first. 

List 5 skills PD’s must have in order to win on the air today?

       Strategic thinking with both a granular and 10,000 foot view of what’s important at/to the station, but also the ability to execute in ways that are creative, fun, timely, and occasionally out of the box
       The ability to lead and motivate individuals and groups of individuals
       A coach that really coaches to the benefit of the talent and the overall entertainment value of the station
       Strong organizational skills to handle/prioritize the many demands of today’s programmer
       The desire to know and embrace listeners – not only in order to over-deliver satisfaction regardless of platform, but also to anticipate new ways to surprise and delight  

Where can the young go to learn the tools of the PD trade? 

Find a mentor. Ideally that’s someone you work with so you that access is easy, but if not, reach out to those who you respect. You’ll find many eager to share their experiences and ideas.

A tremendous amount of great thinking is available for the taking. And it’s not just great thinking about radio, but great thinking about media, consumers, branding, marketing, technology, demography and more. Thousands of very smart people freely share their thoughts via blogs and Tweets alone everyday.

Identify people on Twitter who can teach you something and follow them. With Twitter it’s easy to quickly determine if someone’s Tweets are meaningful to you and to find others who might contribute to your knowledge base as well.

Spend time with listeners regarding their feelings about your station as well as their other passions.

Deconstruct radio stations and talent that are high achievers to gain insight into why they are successful.

Read a lot. 

Write a lot. Keep a journal of your discoveries, ideas and questions.  Think about how the former could be implemented and the questions could be solved.

How do PD’s program in a PPM world and keep their jobs?

PPM didn’t change how people listen, only how they are measured. Gary Marince said that back in his Arbitron days and it’s valid to this point.

PPM and some terrific researchers and marketers have helped us know so much more about our listeners. We have more information on our audiences than ever and that information is certainly an asset.

However we also know that people like to be engaged, have fun, and simply feel good when they listen.

There’s a lot a PD can’t control - often the most frustrating can be panel-related. But PDs should be charged with - and immersed in - creating a great listening experience, and given the support to make that a reality.

Pick five great PDs the young can look up to and follow.

This was the toughest question for me because there are many PDs – famous and not so famous – doing amazing work in their respective markets. I am privileged to work with some of them.

While I did make a list, I was thinking, why a list just new PDs could follow? And for that matter, why just five people to follow and and why follow just radio people when there is so much great applicable thinking so readily available?

New PD or long-time programmer, now is a time to inspire and be inspired. Make a list if you like, but also aspire to be on a list because everyone wins when we share what we’ve learned.

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