Blog: What keeps most PDs awake at night?

Radio consultant John Simons writes about how to work out what your listeners really want.

What keeps most PDs awake at night?

How to get to Number 1, in their market, or how to stay at Number 1 is the obvious answer.

If you’re lucky enough to be Number 1, then you’re always looking over your shoulder at who’s nipping at your heels.

If you’re not Number 1 you’re constantly focussed on how to unseat the top dog in your market.

It’s an obsession, but a healthy one, and one that has to be addressed.

The answer to this all too common dilemma is simple………….. Find out what your target listener wants and then give it to them!!

That’s Music, Imaging, Content and Presenters, which we can research and use experience to evaluate but what really makes the difference?

I’ve never been a slave to research but in these competitive times that we live in, you need every edge you can gain to help you get ahead of the game. Research is essential to determine the right music for the target audience and can give great insight into what other elements the audience expect to hear, but you must use experience and judgement to make the mix work in your market.

All of these things make up the ingredients but what makes your ingredients better than your competitors or visa versa?

It’s that magical ingredient called PERSONALITY……

We can copy the music our competitors play, we can rip off their content and benchmarks, or even replicate their imaging but it’s the bits between the records that make the real difference.

Personality Presenters are the biggest assets when it comes to making your station stand out against the competition.

You can go out and buy them but that can be expensive so it’s far better to grow your own.

If you develop and give a big break to your Talent they’ll give you loyalty and longevity but it’s hard work and it takes weeks, months and sometimes years of hard work to help them to develop and create a stir in your market, but once it comes together it’s what will make you stand out in a crowded market.

So many PD’s that I talk to and work with complain about the lack of time they have to spend with their Presenters, as they are constantly getting pulled into commercial meetings, or writing scripts for clients and helping develop promotional opportunities to sell to clients.

These are all key elements of what is expected of Programmers and are crucial to the success of the station but time management is also one of the biggest attributes as well, and if you can’t manage your time to enable you to coach the talent in your team effectively then you shouldn’t be doing the job.

Presenters are like your children. The biggest gift you can give them is your time. Most of them crave attention and although they may protest about over analysis of their work, they will always perform better if you work with them to help them improve their skills.

But what makes a great Radio Personality. I personally think that you’re either born with personality or you aren’t, so it’s easier to take someone from another walk of life, who has a strong personality and train them how to operate a radio studio, rather than try to turn someone who has technical skills to express their personality “On Air” especially if they don’t really have one in the first place.

So what are the main attributes of a great Presenter.

Here are the Top 20 traits of great Presenters:

1. They air-check themselves to identify issues to fix

2. Prep before and paperwork after the show

3. Talk to one person On Air at all times

4. Don’t bring problems to the studio

5. Know their target audience

6. Paint pictures with words

7. Share their life On Air every day

8. Keen to learn new skills

9. Are friends with sales department

10. Always out in the community

11. Promote their fellow Presenters

12. Well turned out and on time

13. Laugh at themselves and often do

14. Hometown Proud

15. Control stress when things go wrong

16. Never sexist, racist or bigoted

17. Always pre – read scripts

18. Listen to the station they work on

19. Are well read but not false

20. Can be relied on in a crisis

If the key talent on your station can tick the majority of these top 20 attributes then you’re in a great place, but how many can honestly say that they actually do half of these points?

A good test is to ask your Presenters to write down what they think their top 10 attributes are for a great Presenter. This can be truly enlightening and gives you a great insight into what they believe their strengths are.

If you know what their strengths are its far easier to work out their weaknesses and these are the things that you need to work on with them to keep them at the top of their game.

Standing Out in a crowded market isn’t an easy option. The easy option is to do nothing, play more music and maintain the status quo. But to deliver fun, engaging radio that truly connects with your community you will win every time and if you’re having fun making it, the listeners will have fun consuming it and listen to your station longer.

Coaching talent on a daily basis is the most rewarding part of being a PD and if you get into that routine your station will STAND OUT, but if you can’t be bothered or think your too busy with other “Station Stuff” then it’s time to CHECK OUT!!

Read more from radio consultant John Simons on his blog at

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