Programme Directors Radio Silence
By Ross Burrill - posted 8 January, 2017
What is the Deal with UK Programme Directors? I've met with a few and i find them very difficult to contact, i'm working on a successful Breakfast Show with approximately 3 Million Listeners, Met every A Lister under the sun and have had several positive meetings with Programme Directors but find that they never reply to emails. Is this a normal thing? If yes, why???
Is it just UK programme directors, or programme directors overall?
Unfortunately this happens more often than not. I'd like to think I'm an exception to this rule, though.
Of course, everyone should be polite and reply to messages and I'm sure most try, most of the time.
However, flipping it around the other way...
Why should they reply to your message? What problem are you solving for them? Who's doing who a favour from replying?
If someone sends me an unsolicited demo asking for feedback, I try to listen and respond. But. It would be easy to argue that I haven't asked for the demo, I have a full roster, most demos are not very good, why do I have to give my time to feedback to someone who's never going to be on my radio station? Any value is going one way - to the emailer. Same with meeting up with someone to give them advice. I'm swapping my time, but for what?
I say this not because I'm (entirely) an asshole. I do lots of replies to demos and meet lots of young presenters and get many on air. I do this because I'm nice, I enjoy it and also you never know where someone will get to on their journey and where it might help in the future.
But if you're cold calling/emailing PDs (and I know this isn't exactly the situation the OP is in) but if you're trying to get something - a job, a show etc. Think about the value exchange.
In a demo - PLEASE talk about my radio station. What you like, what surprised you, what question you have etc. AT LEAST spend some time listening to it. It's likely to be something a PD has slaved over, it's their favourite subject.
PLEASE explain why you would be right for my station (and why what's in your demo/CV etc proves that). When you spam a generic demo jus think what you're doing. 1. You're sending an MP3 unsolicited for a job that doesn't exist, to a person who hasn't asked for it, and you can't even be bothered to tailor it to the station. How arrogant!
DEMONSTRATE how you would enhance what I do, or where you could fit in.
ASK A SPECIFIC QUESTION - it's much easier to reply to those. "I'm in London on the 5th January, have you got 20mins for a coffee sometime then" is much easier to reply to than saying it "would be good to meet up". Biggest issue is that I don't always have thinking time for stuff like this.
If I don't reply, don't just re-forward your message. Keep me updated on what you're doing, or when your demo's been updated. I probably feel guilty about not replying and this might be the bump I need to respond. OR drop me a note when my radio station has a success. Flattery does help. We're only human.
I've been in both positions. Years back as the programmer receiving the applications, and more recently as the applicant. Currently, I'm looking for a gig, and I have to say, MOST bosses have responded with helpful feedback. I won't name and shame those who haven't - they'll know who they are, but in my experience, we're all a bit too busy to spend too much time when we've got an MD breathing down our necks to get those notes together ahead of the next important meeting, or to make sure his or her immediate objective is met, yesterday. So I get it when people DON'T respond.
On the other flip of the coin, as someone who has in the past been guilty of not replying and offering feedback, I am feeling quite a bit of the karma, and if I'm ever back in that position to do so, I will make a point of being more encouraging and constructive going forward.
We never stop learning in this business.
An anecdote I can share - I recently had a chat with a now retired ex-radio boss who told me he turned down a now well-known Radio 1 presenter, because at the time he thought the kid wasn't as good as the dead air he'd cover, and had no future.
Just goes to show; keep at it, rise above the rejections and any lack of feedback, and if it's meant to be, it'll happen.
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