Media Needs Program Directors

Radio Studio
Typical Radio Broadcast Studio

The traditional TV advertising model is in decline – even with its reach. Newspapers struggle with adapting online; but a no pay wall ad supported model is the least-worse strategy. Radio struggles with its identity by trying to be all things media to all people; those local and intimate survive. Film & Music – both terminal business models too focussed on attacking audience than offering alternative consumption models.

In all cases technology has both changed the media landscape by taking supply control away from the majors or also by offerings solutions to beleaguered old media guardians by developing new distribution and consumption models for old content.

My first two jobs were in old media. The first, when I was 12, as a recurring regular on a national TV show made by the Ten Network responsible for Neighbours. The second, five years later, was as a radio presenter and producer at what became this radio station (for the avoidance of doubt I never ‘lived sexy’).

Even then I knew that life in that world would be tough and sometimes a long time between jobs and the thought of that and the need for more job security led me to study law and for a short time I even was a traditional “media and entertainment” lawyer.

But it has all changed, the media itself and being a lawyer in that sector (more about that topic another time). The sheer size, scale and craft of the old media world are almost over. That is the sad part – most people entering that sector now can do so with their mobile phone and YouTube account – they can have similar reach without the grand experience.

The creative idea is still there no matter how expressed but to think that young person with the smart phone may never know the amazement and awe of walking into a TV studio for the first time. They may never gasp at the cameras, the lights, the sets and the bustle of people creating a magical world. Losing the sheer bigness of it all and the craft is lamentable.

It is a similar experience walking into the radio studio for the first time – the ability to talk to thousands or millions of people from one microphone – that is influence; that is power. Webcams can show us now what happens ‘on air’ but they can’t translate the feeling and sentiment – in some respects webcams have stopped radio doing what it does best – creating a theatre of the mind.

I love the democratisation of broadcast television and radio and the rise of the podcast and YouTube video. I love that I have more choice and can watch almost anything and listen to anyone on any topic. I love that I can even use it to write,  podcast or distribute my own videos and photographs – but for all of that – I still need a curator, a program director to help me distil and select things that I will like, won’t waste time and provide enjoyment.  The algorithms aren’t that clever yet – at the moment they dish up more of what they think we like.

The other side of that role is to challenge our output, suggest topics and guide us editorially. I like having that and those people around me. My blogs that lack someone else’s opinion or shaping before publishing are I think self-evident examples and proving my point!

But if no one is listening or watching – so what? The program director is missing from new media. The program director makes helps shape and the select output. New media needs a content curator to guide our choices, select things we may like and sometimes challenge us with new content we would not naturally gravitate to. Without it, it’s just a shouting content free-for-all.

Published by Brett

Brett is an experienced lawyer and business executive who focuses on commercial outcomes. He has worked across three sectors in England & Australia advising and leading initiatives in digital, media and technology

2 thoughts on “Media Needs Program Directors

  1. I know what you mean Brett, but don’t we get the best of both worlds with new media?

    Anyone who wants to can listen to the ramblings of one man and his cat from a bedsit in Barking. Most people won’t, but there may be some who get something from a completely self-indulgent and unedited show.

    On the other hand, there are people developing as formal “program directors” – like Dan Benjamin of 5by5, who produce consistent and reliable output, and are able to maintain quality across “broadcasts” by multiple different presenters.

    Beyond that, potentially we are all program directors with the opportunity for social sharing, recommendation and immediate feedback to the media producers.

    Maybe there could be some sort of Brett Tech Lawyer program director sidebar on this blog, with your most recent recommendations?

    1. In theory – yes we do get the best of both worlds, I can’t deny that. But sifting it all through and sorting it and making a playlist of it all for me – that’s the utopia.

      I like how you put it back onto me to be a PD for others. I like that. Will figure out a playlist, recommendations and how to make the side bar!

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