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Radio Programme Controller - Job Profile

About the role

Programme controllers can also be called programme directors but essentially they are the same role. This person is number 2 at a radio station behind the station manager and has responsibility for leading the programme team. The PC’s main role is to ensure that the station’s crown jewel, its on air product meets the creative and commercial needs of the station. The Pc works closely with the station manager and others within the station as well as operations directors in larger groups.

The PC defines the vision for the station’s on-air product, manages personnel in this area, cultivates talent and determines the best ways to showcase on-air personalities. Smooth on-air operations and shaping an on-air product that appeals to the targeted demographics are tickets to success in this position. PC’s can also have responsibility in smaller groups to be in charge of programming content at more than one station.

PC’s work closely with presenters and are involved in developing promotions, handle creative production and station imaging and when there’s not a music director per se, they are the ones who pick the “hits.” create the music logs and decide what gets put onto the station playlist. Some bigger stations employ a full time music director or larger groups will employ a group wide music programmer.

What does the Job do?

PC’s need to have a good understanding of the objectives and format of their station. The characteristics of their chosen market audience and the key business objectives of the radio station. Working alongside the station manager a PC’s role is to plan and coordinate the station programming to meet these objectives. The PC oversees the programming team and also liaises closely with the sales and marketing teams to ensure they both work together to maximise revenue.

PC’s recruit personnel for the programming team and once employed are responsible for their training and development. Pc’s are responsible for the day to day running of the programme team and actively develop and encourage creativity. Pc’s regularly coach presenters and will hold regular review sessions with them to evaluate their work and seek ways to improve their performance.

Pc’s are not expected to keep the status quo and are required to continually review the stations output and refresh and devise new content to retain and attract new listeners.

In tandem with the station manager PC’s will need to be able to represent the station with business’s at a local level and build long lasting relationships within their broadcast area.

The PC is required to ensure that all output complies with Ofcom programming guidance and regulations, the law and to deal with any programming complaints swiftly. The job can involve long hours can be on call out in case the station goes off air and for group PC’s will involve travelling to programming meetings.

Typical career routes

Most PC’s have risen up through the ranks of the station, performing all the roles along the way. Most will have spent some time with the sales and marketing department gaining an understanding of the commercial side of the business.

Promotion is available within this role, moving from a local to regional to national level. Some programme Controllers move across into TV or other management roles within radio.

Essential knowledge and skills

Ability to generate original ideas, and to think creatively about how to communicate them
Excellent communication and presentation skills
Thorough knowledge of the Radio market, different station and programme styles, and audience demographics
Sound editorial judgement, business and finance skills
The ability to work effectively under pressure, react quickly, and meet tight deadlines
The skills to be able to manage creative teams, and encouraging acceptable creative risk taking
Ability to coach, and to develop talent in others
Ability to give and accept feedback, and manage performance through constructive reviews of output
A thorough knowledge of the law, ethics and industry regulation as they affect Radio presentation
Knowledge of when it is necessary, and how to acquire, the relevant clearances and licenses, including copyright and music clearances, plus a knowledge of what can and can’t be said on air
knowledge of the requirements of the relevant Health and Safety legislation and procedures
A high level of IT skills – particularly good word-processing and data handling skills .

Training & qualifications

It’s not essential that for this role you would need formal qualifications. Most PC’s have acquired their skills and knowledge through on the job roles. Some start out by managing small teams or standing in when more senior colleagues are on holiday. Some PC’s have taken it upon themselves to take more formal qualifications in short management courses to improve their opportunity of promotion.

Training for PC’s is an ongoing process to keep their skills and knowledge up to date. This can take the form of in house training courses or via the more formal qualification route. Training is usually dependent on the organisation, its size and budget available.

Colleges and private training providers offer a range of short courses which could be of benefit to Programme Controllers seeking professional development, and may offer opportunities for them to gain further promotion, or to change career direction.

What can I expect to get paid?

Salaries may range depending on which radio group you are working for, expect to earn anywhere from £24,000 to £80,000 a year.