Dear GM: A Few Things Your PD Would Like To Tell You

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(By Gary Berkowitz)

Dear General Manager,

There are a few things that have been on my mind. Please allow me to tell you about them.

PDs need positive reinforcement too. Since most GMs come from sales, they sometimes treat the PD differently. If you haven’t figured this out yet, us PDs can be a weird combination of sensitive, paranoid, and “artsy.” Yes, at times, we are not easy to manage, but that’s why you’re there. Tell me when you hear something you like or something that got your attention. Positive or negative, I need to know you’re listening and paying attention.

Please know this: I understand that we are a business and I get how we drive revenue. At the same time, please realize that the number one complaint I get from listeners is not about the music. It’s that we play too many commercials. If we’re going to kill it with way too many spots, please don’t complain to me when the ratings are released and don’t look good. I may need to remind you of the conversation when you said, “We have to add another unit, but they won’t notice.” Trust me, they notice.

When you walk around the building, please try to have a smile on your face. Even though things are not always perfect, it’s important for all of us to see you feeling good and, most importantly, looking confident. You really do set the tone for the building. If the trades are buzzing (for better or worse) about our company, please address it. We dislike rumors as much as you do.

When you tell me about what your wife and her friends think, you lose credibility with me. I love input, but the “my wife and her friends” line wears thin quickly.

Let me help with promotions. It’s my specialty. I hate it when an AE walks in trying to shove a promotion down my throat (since they have already agreed to it). Bring me into the discussion before we present and, more importantly, before we commit. In most cases, we will be able to offer a better promotion that will work for the client as well as our station. I’m happy to work with the AEs on the proposal. I know where and how it will best fit into the station brand.

The most important thing you can do for me is communicate what is going on. Be honest, especially when things are not good. I’m better when I know.

Change is inevitable. Everyone in the programming department knows that. Can you be the first GM to allow air talent to say goodbye when the time comes? Why is it that when TV people leave, they usually get to say they are moving on, but radio personalities just disappear into thin air? Listeners do not like that.

I realize there are some circumstances where we cannot allow a talent to say something, but many times a quick goodbye would go over well with our audience. We’re always trying to build a relationship with listeners, but then, at the end, their favorite DJ just disappears. Trust that I will know which talent can be trusted to leave in a positive way and can say goodbye to the listenership.

Can it wait until after my airshift? I realize you have deadlines, but discussing something with me when I’m on the air is never good. No matter what you’d like to talk about, it will most likely distract me, and that’s always a bad thing. Whether I’m live or voicetracking, please — can it wait?

Yes, I do need a small expense budget for my airstaff. Spending time with talent away from the station is important. I would love to be able to take them out for a lunch every now and then. This will reap big rewards.

In conclusion: programming people are like middle children. We aim to please. We get up every morning with the goal of winning by doing great radio. We’re in it because we love it. Please be our leader, and know that our goal is to make the radio station successful with both our listeners and the people who make it happen 24/7.

Gary Berkowitz is president of Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting. Contact him at 248.737.3727, [email protected] garyberk.com, or www.garyberk.com.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Great points Gary! Now to get the establishment to actually do it!
    Most GM’s got their start as salespeople and what has been told to them and sometimes, them telling you, that they pay your salary! That makes me laugh…but, what do they know! Your ratings pay their salary if they are good enough to sell it. It’s time old-line thinking gives away to reality.
    You hired the P.D. Let him/her do their job and give them the respect that they deserve. In turn the GM might get that same respect back.

  2. Although Gary provides a number of worthwhile suggestions, I fear the management mold, as it applies to PD’s, has been cast so long ago. Managers wandering around the building pretending to project a “positive mental attitude” fools only the most gullible – and maybe only temporarily.

    That so many PD’s are also pulling an air shift suggests they (the PD’s) really don’t have much else to do – even if accomplishing nothing still makes for a 9-hour day.

    Besides, it is highly unlikely that any PD’s can distill a case of Johnny Walker Black when their supplied raw materials consist of a half a bushel of potatoes and other rotting vegetables liberated from nearby dumpsters – barely enough to cook up some poisonous rot-gut vodka.

    As to free pizza for the programming/writing staff: Gary. You go too far. 🙂

  3. Gary, this is solid stuff. Thanks for saying it. If I could add one more: I didn’t get stupid overnight. If we have a bad book, please don’t turn up the heat on me. I feel badly enough about the ratings – in fact, I own them. I’ll figure it out, but help me, support me, and a little research would be nice.

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