Having had the opportunity to work with Programmers over the years it usually seems that they have 3 types of backgrounds or 'DNA' that lead to their career path. Take a look and see which group you (or your PD) may fit in:
- The Great Jock - This PD usually came from the air staff and was the best air talent (or one of the best) on the team when it came time for them to step up to the PD office. They usually are pretty skilled at working with the air staff, often pretty creative with promotions, many are pretty good writers and they also have a great creative side. They may find challenges with grasping research, working with the logs and music systems.
- The Technician - This group has a great grasp of computers and the technical side of the station. They usually do very well with the logs and studio interfaces. They grasp research quickly and often have a keen eye for analysis of the data. Sometimes they are challenged with creativity on air and coaching the air staff.
- The Musician - Music is the main reason they got into radio. They are fans and may have a great ear for the music. Many are pretty strong on air performers and they usually grasp the music scheduling and promotion side of the job fairly well. They can run into challenges with research, coaching the air staff, and keeping the station focused on a tighter list in a competitive battle.
All of these skills are important to being a successful programmer. Each background or approach has great advantages and challenges. Over the years we have seen more technicians emerge as computers have taken over in the studio and the digital world has become more important. Still it does not diminish the need for great on-air talent and a full appreciation of the music we play. We've probably all seen PDs who have skill sets in a couple or even all 3 of these backgrounds - the great PDs find a way to cover all of these areas even if it means hiring great talent around them. But, in today's world we often find that staffs are pretty small - finding budget and room for a Musician to fill out the staff or pushing a Great Jock into more of leadership role presents a challenge.
Now more than ever it's very likely that the PD will have to adapt and pick up the skills that didn't come with their DNA.