The future of the Program Director’s job
"I don't want to send people to my station's website."
So say many program directors at many radio stations in the US.
Even today. Shocking as it may seem.
Evidently, in this imaginary world there are only two things one can do: Listen to your radio station and visit your website – and doing one takes directly from the other.
Ludicrous, but so goes the fear.
What's not imaginary in this world is that many PD's are not incentivized to grow a station's web traffic, they're incentivized only to grow a station's ratings.
This is dumb, dumb, dumb.
The more enlightened broadcasters know that it doesn't matter where the dollar comes from as long as it comes. And the whole advantage to having a radio station and an audience is that you can use the "loudspeaker" of the station to move that audience to places where you can monetize it – yes, even if it's off your own air.
At the very least, PD's must have an incentive to build audiences everywhere – not just over the air.
But that's not nearly enough.
It's important for PD's to understand that we're entering a world where stations will be measured not simply based on how large their audiences are but on how effectively those audiences can be monetized at every point of contact.
The traditional job of the Program Director will eventually creep to higher and higher levels in the corporate ladder as music decisions are regionalized and centralized and management decisions are dropped in the lap of the General Manager.
But local markets will desperately need a Content Director who is as much a marketer as a programmer. Someone whose interests and concerns span the range of the local broadcast group's audiences and media portfolio.
Someone who is incentivized not just on the size of the audience, both over-the-air and online, but – and this is critical – the size of a broadcast group's community of listeners. And by "community" I mean the depth and breadth of knowledge your group has about your audience at the individual level – email address, interests, activities, etc.
Is there any Program Director in America bonused on the size of their station's listener database? And is that because we're not working hard enough to fulfill the potential for and monetize that database?
Finally, the Content Director should be recognized as part of the station's sales effort and incentivized accordingly, because what you create and how effectively you monetize it are inextricably linked, or at least they should be.
If you want to create art that doesn't sell, grab a sketch book.
Every smart PD in America should be lobbying management to change their job description, change their incentive structure, and expand their responsibilities accordingly.