The Traits Of A Great Program Director


(By Jay Stevens) I love watching the Oscars because I love movies. I love the creativity that goes into writing and directing this type of art form. There is nothing better than watching a movie, becoming absorbed in the story, invested in the characters and, for a couple of hours, escaping.

This leads me to the focus of this article, the parallels between great movie directors and great program directors. Follow me here. If you read the many articles on what it takes to be a great film director you will find these traits:
– Has to be a strong LEADER, who can direct and guide a diverse group of talented actors.
– Is CREATIVE, takes a script and interprets it in his or her style. This creative magic make a successful film.
– OPERATES WELL UNDER PRESSURE. Budgets, crazy actors, creating a product that will perform well at the box office, all live under the director.
– Is a VISIONARY, thinking about the future in a creative and imaginative way.
– Is a good COMMUNICATOR. Must communicate and articulate this vision to the lighting, camera, makeup, and sound teams as well as the actors.
– Is a PROBLEM SOLVER. During a shoot there are problems and issues that occur, meaning a director has to “figure it out.”
– Has a POSITIVE attitude that energizes the team.
– FLEXIBILITY. “S*** happens” on a movie set and the director has to be open to new ideas and be able to collaborate with the team.
– PASSIONATE. This passion is contagious.

Are these relatable? I often remind program directors that they are the Martin Scorsese’s or Ava DuVernay’s of their radio stations. Most times they have never thought of it that way.

There are over 600 movies released annually in America — and that’s just theatrical releases. How does a director make a creative, compelling hit film that cuts through?

There are well over 15,000 radio stations in the U.S. — how does a program director make a station creative and compelling so it cuts through?

Great program DIRECTORS create great content — a masterpiece, a blockbuster, an award-winning, iconic radio station.


Jay can be reached at [email protected], although he might be on the golf course, mowing his lawn, or yelling at your station for playing too many commercials. 


  1. Jay: Great written article. Sadly todays radio content is all the same sea of sameness. Where ever you travel across this country every music station programs the same. Seems every PD wants to stay in the safe zone and follow the crowd. Be safe and let the music be the personality. I guess i could just load up my flash drive and play excatly the music I love with out the commercials but radio is supposed to be an intertaintment medium the last time I checked. We all know radio budgets are on life support so drawing decent on air personel is in the lower level, where do younger wanna be radio people learn there craft as radio stations go more and more black. Sadly what I hear on the radio is not going to change. I was lucky to enjoy great radio growing and I am not talking screaming, big echo crazy radio guys. Just be entertainting along with the music.


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