Music Radio Is Like Farming. Music Radio Is Like Boat Building.

Programming a music radio station is like farming. You have to plant new seeds, nurture and grow them. For us, those seeds are the new records and promotions we play. Proper management of the commercials is akin to proper land management. We must regularly work the garden, turning the soil, weeding and rotating the crops. In my days as Program Director, that could be having the announcers re-record a commercial or promo that should’ve been better. It often meant insisting that locally recorded adverts be no longer than was paid for; the car dealer paid for a 60 but turned in ad copy that ran 70 seconds.

I believed the program director should conduct regular critique sessions with each of the disc jockeys, keeping them focused on the formatics that I designed. The announcers were individuals but also a team. They should know the the game plan, the unifying style of the station. I told my jocks they could say anything they wanted to say so long as they did it in 30 seconds or less. I said Radio can sell any product in 30 seconds, can communicate the message in that short time, so most certainly they could express themselves in that amount of time, be that a thought about a song, a quip about some current affair, deliver a joke or do a listener dedication. So, say what you want but observe these two rules: You must not be offensive, so don’t be a smart-ass. And you must not be negative. No bitching or complaining about something on the air. Be positive about the songs you do like, don’t comment about songs you don’t like. Love of music is the one thing we share with all our listeners and we should not tell any one of them that we don’t like what might be their favorite song.

Another recent analogy I’ve had is that creating great music radio is like boat-building. Anyone can tie some trees together and float across the river. Anyone can hollow out a log to make a canoe. But to fashion wood to create an elegant form that will be maneuverable and efficient in the water with little drag, sturdy in bad weather and that will carry a good amount of content to enable it to be used for successful fishing and trade expeditions, well that requires craftsmen.