What Happened To The Time?


(By John Shomby) For the past four years, my professional life has undergone a significant change compared to the previous 40-plus years (easy on the jokes, please!). I had always been a Program Director and/or Operations Manager which means I was the one who was being “pursued” by job seekers, labels, syndicators, radio salespeople, etc.

This didn’t even include air staff and those in the rest of the building. Now, I am definitely a “pursuee” pitching what I do to some of that same group above and then some. Being on this end has opened my eyes as to how we, in the business, manage our time each day.

Job responsibilities have multiplied as staff have diminished and, for a few of us, it has been a difficult adjustment. First, this is not a complaint. I have had more than several PDs and label folks run into me at a seminar or an event and profusely apologize for their lack of contact. I get it!

Remember, I was there not too long ago. When I was a PD/OM, I always did my very best to return every call, email, and text. Most of the time, I was successful but, some of the time, not even close. How can you avoid being “that PD or GM or DOS” being tagged as the one who never answers back? 

After being on the “other side,” I have a few suggestions that could help:

  1. Prioritize your day. Not all emails, calls, and/or texts deserve equal attention. Categorize them based on urgency and importance (I used the “ABC” order). You can respond to the A’s first and then so on. Do the same with your meetings, music scheduling (if that’s part of it), aircheck sessions, etc. Be relentless or the rest of what is below is rendered useless.
  2. Set expectations and boundaries. Let everyone know your response times and when they can hear back from you. In addition, make known when you are and are not available each day and stick to it as best as you can, similar to the old label call times for PDs. Set email auto-replies and/or record a voicemail response that can be seen/heard when you are unavailable. Pass on your preferred mode of communication. Mine was email so I told everyone when I began a business relationship with them, that was the best way to communicate with me.
  3. Schedule answer-back times. Block times in your calendar for this. If you share your calendar with your staff, this will come in very handy.
  4. Schedule calls with those who want some of your time. Set them when it is best for both of you and make sure you allot what you think is needed. Beware of the “I’ve got a quick question” call. It’s usually not quick so be adamant about scheduling.
  5. Treat all the above as you would treat any appointment. Lock it in and honor it unless there is an emergency.
  6. Delegate when you can. Pass on emails or calls to staff who can handle them without your help.
  7. Be empathetic and respectful of those who want your communication time and understand that he/she has a job to do. Whenever a “yes” or a “no” or a definite opinion is needed from you, it’s best, no matter your preferred communication mode, to speak personally to the individual. For example, record label folks just want an answer to take back to their superiors so give them what they need and move on. Take the time. Show them respect.

Just a few suggestions that worked (and still work) for me. Your time is your most precious commodity. Treat it that way.

Based in Nashville, TN, John Shomby is the owner and CEO of Country’s Radio Coach. He is focused on coaching and mentoring artists, radio programmers, and on-air talent to help them grow and develop inside the radio station and the industry. Reach John at [email protected] and 757-323-1460. Read John’s Radio Ink archives here.


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