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The Year of The Woman

This evening the Alliance for Women in Media will present the 49th Annual Gracie Awards Gala at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, recognizing content creators, performers, and producers involved with programming By Women, For Women, or About Women.

Radio, television, podcasting, streaming, and video are all recognized. Accomplishments that acknowledge the advancement of women are highlighted, too. Last year it was the first full-time female NFL referee, Sarah Thomas. Michelle Obama, Carole Burnett, and national radio personalities like Angela Yee and Ellen K will be among those in the spotlight this year.

Local and Student Honorees will be recognized at Cipriani in New York City during the Gracie Awards Luncheon on June 18. Those content creators, personalities, and producers/writers are honored equally for their connection to a community and their performances.

Despite the hard work of the Alliance for Women in Media, and that of the organization Mentoring and Inspiring Women (MIW), the area that continues to be most lacking in women leaders is Programming. I see this up close and firsthand. I serve on the Board of Directors for the AWM Foundation.

I attend the MIW Lipstick & Lobster gathering at the NAB. I have been assigned women to mentor for both organizations. I enjoy the work that I do for these groups, but I am frustrated that the area of Programming continues to lag in training and developing women to serve as PDs, Brand Managers, or whatever title you choose to use for those who lead the content side of the business.

I grew up in a female-dominant household. My father was present and a great role model and loving parent, but my mother was clearly the CEO of our family. Mainly because my father traveled 3-4 days a week every week of the year. My wife is a strong woman who holds that same CEO role in our family. We have two daughters that are strong women. Our family is a media family with multiple members involved in media as a career. It’s impossible to be a “girl dad” without wanting your children to have the same opportunities as their male counterparts. 

My encouragement is for the decision-makers at the radio station level to begin by recognizing creativity and desire. Those creatives who desire to do more than perform on-air should be encouraged. Educate them on Nielsen, content balance, scheduling music (if yours is a music station), coaching talent, organization, and communication. Discuss strategies. Involve the programmer in development in the discussions around station planning and execution.

One of the women I mentor is a Program Director while another is a major market morning personality who wants to be a PD. The former is looking to perfect her craft and advance her career to the next level. She’s already shown through her corporate responsibilities that she has the ability. I’ve suggested she make her goals known. The latter wants to learn the role of PD and be considered the next time such an opportunity presents itself. I’ve encouraged her to request that her management allow her to be involved in coaching the weekend and part-time talent on the station, scheduling music, managing the talent schedule, and participating in sales and promotion meetings. 

The research that Mentoring and Inspiring Women puts forward every yearshows that women are growing in the role of Market Manager and Sales Manager. It also shows that the amount of women in the Program Director ranks isn’t growing. Women make up approximately 24% of the Market Managers in the Top-100 Markets. Women own 33% of the Sales Manager jobs. Program Directors come in at 11.5%… which is flat from the year before. 

There is no reason to not encourage and consider more women for programming positions. Particularly in a world where there are so many backstops and safety nets for first-time PDs – why not start an internal program to train future Program Directors, regardless of gender? It should be evident to all that we need those who want to advance their career further in content creation.

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