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Black Radio Pros Still Haunted by “The Vent”


Isn’t this a “Communications” Industry?

Radio Programmer or “PD:” A radio specialist that leads the on-air team and creates the flow of the station’s overall presentation. He or she is often a part of an upper management team that makes decisions on what songs get added or gets spins on the station. A programmer pays very close attention to research and PPM (Nielsen’s radio ratings system) in order to compete against other stations in the same market. Most of them are former radio DJs who were promoted after going through the on air ranks in radio. Fewer have never been on the air at all. 

I am constantly researching the RFFocus audience, checking analytics, answering email and looking at social network responses, likes and follows to our stories . In the process, I have come to a conclusion about the big names in urban radio…. nobody (outside of the industry and even then it’s rare) knows them. When it comes to Rhythmic radio, another format in the industry (Drake, Weeknd, Fetty Wap, Bieber, Flo Rida, Gomez)  from the analytics on our allradionews.com site and often more often the non black programmers… EVERYBODY knows them. Rhythmic programmers have no problem promoting what they do and what’s going on at their stations, accepting interviews,  taking pictures with celebrities and themselves at industry events and even thanking you for promoting them. It’s not the same, however, for urban radio Programmers. When I have interviewed them, they rarely respond, are often hesitant to do the interview, have to have corporate approval (which is unacceptable for me) and they rarely if ever say thank you almost as if they are in fear of what may happen next if they promote themselves.

In today’s industry, it would certainly behoove black radio Program Directors at radio stations to promote themselves and what they are doing in order to better connect with the audience and possible future opportunities. But why is it that many Urban Programmers don’t promote themselves?

“It was an informative and interesting site started with good intentions, I would hope, that turned salacious and was full of bitter character assassination…”

Many urban PDs have told me, “I don’t have time” or “I will work on it” but truth be told I see very little if ANY urban programmers promoting what they do because they want to remain “Under the Radar.” Quite often urban (black) programmers (and jocks alike) feel that they are under more pressure from radio corporations to stay behind the scenes and the less they are seen and heard, the better their chances of keeping a job. It’s completely the opposite for non black programmers who believe self promotion on social networks and online is essential to their brand as well as the radio stations.

To that extent, there is a part of me that understands the corporation’s policing themselves on the urban side as they do.

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Kevin Ross: RFFocus.org CEO with over 20 years experience in the Industry. Ross is a former radio Program Director and Radio Jock. You can contact him by clicking the "Contact Us" button in the menu bar.


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