A good thing about the clustering of stations that began in the mid-90’s is that now even those stations have at least one person in the position. Of course, that one individual is now charged with overseeing all of the production and writing - both imaging and commercials - for as many radio stations as humanly possible.
Wouldn't you know?
The job is not quite programming and not quite sales. Responsibilities fall into both departments and that normally means that sales work that immediately drives money gets top priority and the majority of time, while branding the radio stations gets done as time permits.
Many of the production directors I have worked with tend to do the commercial work from 9 to 5 and save the station imaging for their evening and weekend hours in a home studio.
I’m not recommending a change in this, since the spots need to be great. If clients don’t get results, they won’t be back. Meanwhile, the typical Brand Manager/Programmer knows that great imaging can be extremely time-consuming and even though there isn’t a direct line from it to the top line of the station budget the creativity, localism and freshness of production pieces can make or break the ratings trends.
Cumulus VP Mike McVay puts it this way: “The Sales Manager probably wants you, The Production Director, to be the in-house advertising agency, with the creative copywriting skills of an Addy-winning agency copywriter, the marketing sense of a behavioral psychologist, the engineering skills of a Hollywood record producer and the voicing ability to play many characters (sometimes in the same spot) with a voice that commands attention.”
Sales wants you to crank out more compelling sales ideas at this level than anyone can possibly use, most of them good ones, turning them out under constant and impossible deadlines.
Programming asks for the same thing in spades, hoping for at least one or two new pieces of imaging every day as well.
You serve multiple masters and being a great Production/Creative Director means that you savor this pressure, know how to constantly juggle priorities set by others and yourself and take great pride in producing technically and creatively excellent work.
McVay taught me (and his many client stations over the years) that the Golden Rule of Production Director success is “figuring out what the other people want and instinctively knowing how best to give it them with a smile.”