There are so many different things to do as a program director. Running back and forth between events, meetings, consultancy sessions and airchecks can be time consuming, but it is imperative to concentrate your attention on the things that matter, the things that have the greatest effects on your listener ratings. The following is a list of the top ten ways to make the most from radio programming, work on these and you’ll be well on your way to optimal operation.

Check your format consistency.
A tried and true tactic of popular stations is to stay consistent. Keeping to a format policy will pay out over time as listeners respond well to a steady and familiar experience. Set the new listener up with a great first visit and confirm their choice every time they stop by your station.

This works well for both your regular listeners, who want to enjoy they tuned in for the first time; and for the new ears that you want to catch the attention of.
It is key when implementing this to remain patient and consistent, don’t abruptly change things because you feel results aren’t happening fast enough, in radio change takes time, and if you are working toward a goal created by extensive research and knowledge, the listeners will come to respond. Try to dismiss initial fluctuating ratings as you look ahead to the long term benefits.

Understand your stations position.
What do your listeners love about your station? Take a note, because it might not be what you imagined. Find out via your regular listeners what they love, hate and wish to see from your station and tailor your positioning statement, tagline and identity to this well-researched snapshot of your listeners. You can only win when marketing to your loyal fans.

Make sure your imaging is well constructed.
Create a short version of your tagline and insert it into as many of your promos, sweepers and jingles as possible, or create two versions of each segment, one with your tagline and one without for flexibility. Once you have crafted good imaging use your scheduling software to regularly rotate the different elements. Research suggests that it is optimal to have your tagline quoted once every ten minutes and station name every 5 minutes, so schedule this in factoring in the times your presenter should say it live.

Format your music.
It’s imperative for music stations to take a look at their formatting – as it’s what the listeners are there for!. Your requirements will vary depending on whether you are a CHR or AC format station, CHRs can get a little more unstructured and loose with rotation, but AC may need to stick to a regulated uniform format. Specialty stations with limited titles often struggle to avoid repetition, but with a clever use of your music scheduling software, sound codes and formatting it’s easy to create a sense of variety.

Prioritise the peak show.
No matter how strong a station is, there is always a peak period of listeners. Most commonly this is the morning show and you need to focus a lot of attention to this timeslot. The key is to keep them listening after their favourite show has finished, or guide them to tune in later by using techniques like presells and highlights.

Use your budget correctly.
Stretching your available dollars to achieve quality marketing, imaging, content, music, and branding is tough, but be sure to earmark a healthy amount so you’ll be able to pay appropriate wages and offer annual raises to let your people know they are valued. You could offer bonuses based on ratings growth that every member of the team benefits from, creating staff unity and motivation. You will only be able to do this with an adequate budget so get confident when it comes to negotiating with the GM or partners, read up on skilful negotiation and boardroom tactics.

Focus on the personalities.
Personalities can make or break a station, the best music and formatting in the world won’t help if you have a dull, uninspired announcer at the mic. Work hard to hire, retain and develop a great team of personalities and offer extensive, on-going training to get the very best output.

Research the market properly.
Especially important for those in a crowded market, obtaining information on your listeners is the only way to get an edge on your competition. Use studies and reliable data gathering methods to fine tune your brands identity. Music stations should regularly be interviewing listeners about their playlist in order to stay relevant.

Share the ideas.
Everyone on the team should know the overreaching goal and their part in how to get there. Write up a dossier on your programming strategy, detailing what is unique about your brand and who you are marketing to. This is a key way to ensure everyone is working to the same principles ensuring greater station consistency and functionality.

Trust your gut.
All the research and information in the world cannot trump a great instinctive gamble, so if you have a hunch and all your experience is telling you to go ahead and try something then you need to have the confidence to give it a go.
For example: You hear a great brand new song that sounds like it matches your image, but have no data or ratings to reference on it. Don’t be scared to give it a few plays and get feedback from listeners. If you have experience, knowledge and a natural listener understanding, learn to start trusting your instincts.

Constantly listen to your own station.
If you don’t like something, there is a good chance someone else won’t either.

The high revenues and ratings of successful radio programming are within your reach, follow these 10 key strategies to kick-start your station.

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