(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, gary@ garyberk.com, or www.garyberk.com.