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The Star Programmer of 2023 and Beyond Would Have These Qualities

The year 2022 is drawing to a close. Since the pandemic, the evolution of media has accelerated, and the expectations of listeners, advertisers and broadcasters has been forced to change. What “was” is no longer, yet there are many things to feel optimistic about when it comes to radio in regard to reach, rebound and driving revenue for advertisers.

Taking advantage of these opportunities means a shift in job descriptions, expanded responsibilities and the criteria for those individuals to be considered for such positions. The Program Director position is one that has been evolving for several years. Since 2020, the role of the person responsible for performance content, has changed out of necessity. Whether you refer to the role as Brand Manager, Content Chief, Executive Programmer or Program Director, there are specific qualities that are needed for the position in 2023 and beyond.

The Star Programmer of the future will need to be hyper-focused on the audience and reach them where they listen and whenever they listen to audio. The traditional dayparts of the past are fluid and vary by market dependent on the work habits of the audience in a particular region. Who are the biggest employers in your community? If the need for employees to be on-site to execute their jobs is mandatory, then there will be traffic patterns that need to be paid attention to in order to entertain and inform the audience during peak travel hours.

The programmer of the future will need to be self-motivated and yet capable of motivating others, research smart when it comes to understanding the ratings and how to drain them for every drop of audience information that’s possible to extract, and they need to be strategic in their thinking. If ratings drive revenue, then tomorrows PD will need to be focused on both the audience and the advertisers. The must help build both factions of the business.

They must be creative, communicative, capable of coaching talent, and have a clear view of the audience that they’re working to attract. They will need to have more than a basic understanding of social media, the use of digital as a marketing tool, and possess the stamina to be tireless in their objective to accomplish their goals. They need to have a basic understanding of marketing.

The medium has changed where “Radio” means “Audio” in many situations and as such is more than the receiver where Radio is heard. That’s not running away from referring to our business as “Radio.” It’s acknowledging that people listen to the radio on their phone, smart speaker, computer, an app, on a podcast and over the air. The PD of tomorrow needs to accept that fact and be platform agnostic. They will need to understand audio and throw off the shackles that come from pure play thinking. People want to hear what they want to hear wherever they want to hear it.

The new role for the PD will require them to be adaptable, able ton think strategically and have a more than basic understanding of audio. The very best Program Directors that I have known in my career are intelligent. I’m not speaking of an IQ here, but rather am suggesting that these content creators and content managers have to be much more than an executor of someone else’s plan. They have to be capable of participating in strategic design, collaboration and execution.

I cannot imagine that there is any one person who has all of the qualities detailed here. There may be one person who has most of them or several people in a programming department that combined have all of them. If you’re serious about programming you need real true content creators who possess skills significantly greater than when the world was less complicated and competition was at a minimum. One more thing … you will need someone who is scrappy.

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