Saturday, August 21, 2010

From Inside Radio: Today's PD, programmer or plate spinner?

Consolidation brought multi-station duties.  The digital revolution added web site programming and side channels. Now weaving the station and its personalities into the social conversation on Facebook and Twitter is also a priority.  Is the expanding role of the digitally-connected brand manager distracting programmers from focusing on the core product?
“It’s really difficult to be a great PD, listen to the station and focus on the content,” Radio One senior VP of programming content Jay Stevens said at last month’s Conclave. It’s gotten to the point where Clear Channel senior VP of programming Rod Phillips said he sometimes has to force PDs to listen to uninterrupted for 3-4 hours and write down the top 5 things that need to change on their stations.  How local PDs are adapting varies based on their individual market situations. “Even though I’m tied up with a lot of duties, I still find time to obsess over the station and hear every little nook and cranny,” Simmons Media alternative “X96” KXRK, Salt Lake City PD Todd “Nuke ‘Em” Noker says. However, he programs only one station and has a fulltime airstaff.  “Time once spent by the jocks pulling carts and cueing up CDs is now time when they can make a blog entry or be active on Facebook,” Noker says.  
As PD/afternoon host at CHR “Q102” WIOQ Tim “Romeo” Herbster only has an airstaff of three to oversee.  But he also serves as director of digital content for Clear Channel’s five-station Philadelphia cluster. “I love that I have my hands in everything, but you’ve got to get your time management skills down,” he says. “Being digitally active enhances the on-air product, the engagement with the listeners and the content that you’re talking about on the air.”

In Chicago, Rick Vaughn juggles programming CHR “Kiss 103.5” WKSC and directing social media for Kiss, urban WGCI and Spanish hits “Mega 95.5” WNUA.  “If there’s one things that programmers should focus on right now to increase ratings it’s the digital platform,” he says. “It’s not that much more responsibility to jump on Twitter or Facebook or to use Tweetdeck.”  KSLZ, St. Louis PD Jeff McHugh says he had to let certain things go to focus on what’s really important: driving ratings and web site visitors.  That’s meant fewer events and contests.  “They take time and resources that could be spent engaging with people on social media,” he says. “We’re trying to focus the resources that we have into the areas that really matter.”

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