According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, program directors, alongside editors, authors and writers, will be in great demand between 2010 and 2020. There is a projected increase of 13,500 directors in the broadcast media in this period. Would-be program directors need to understand that the career is demanding, and requires people with strong listening, speaking and critical thinking skills. A degree in journalism or communications is a good educational background for this career. These qualifications help a program director fulfill his tasks efficiently.
A program director is responsible for planning and scheduling programs at a radio or TV station. The program director must consider factors such as time, broadcast length, audience needs, viewer demographics and program ratings. The program director scrutinizes each program to ensure that it is suitable for broadcast at the scheduled time. Then, it is his obligation to decide, after a thorough analysis of data such as feedback and audience surveys, whether the schedule needs changes.
Program directors should ensure that their media houses’ program logs follow the Federal Communication Commission, or FCC, rules and regulations. They need to ascertain that the logs are accurate; if this is not the case, they must correct these anomalies. They need to make sure that announcers reveal the sponsors of any advertisement and confirm that these sponsors have paid for the advertisement in line with the 1934 Communications Act. Another example of FCC rules that he must enforce is the one requiring that the station identifies itself during natural breaks using its legal ID, which normally include its call letters and city of license.
Program directors are the link between other directors and the on-air talent, and they facilitate guest appearances on the station. Other media staff or directors rely on him to relay information to guests or performers; he also conveys information from the latter to the former. A program director works hand-in-hand with the marketing department to tailor the station’s overall image in the eyes of the public. He must also deliberate with the production crew regarding casting challenges and news coverage.
Radio and TV stations need work schedules for newscasters or announcers to carry out their tasks efficiently. The program director uses work schedules to assign assignments to staff members. The task of cuing actors, announcers or performers during programs also falls on his shoulders. Departments such as programming and news look to the program director to coordinate activities between them. He evaluates the performance of staff members to see whether they are performing as expected.