Moneyball: Which Department Do You Work For?

Having too much things to do

When we worked for Clear Channel years ago – and back when perceptual study presentations were conducted on location, instead of on Zoom – we found ourselves among a group of more than a dozen PDs and regional programming honchos convened to view a study presentation. In the hotel bar after dinner, the group programming exec (who shall remain nameless here) asked for a show of hands of those who wanted a shot of tequila. A fellow at a nearby table, not with our group raised his hand … and was later served a chilled shot of tequila with the rest of us. We heard his companion ask, “How’d you get a shot of tequila?” And then we heard his answer, “Those sales guys bought it for me.”

Sales guys?! Sales guys?! We were radio programmers. There were guys with tattoos among us – including now NuVoodoo marketing guru, PJ Kling. We were cool (or so we thought).

The radio business has long fostered a divide between sales and programming. Years ago, some PDs had veto power over commercials being suitable for air, which made them less than beloved among sellers. GMs were called upon to mediate squabbles between SMs and PDs. On the programming side of the building, we often felt AEs were conspiring to run commercial loads of 60 minutes per hour.

But the smartest PDs we know have always been the ones who make it their business to attend sales meetings – not just occasionally or when invited, but to attend EVERY sales meeting. They realize they learn a lot more about how the radio station is doing in the sales meeting than they do by looking at Nielsen ratings. They foster relationships with SMs and AEs and know who to ask when they need help with a promotion or appearance. They help their GM build connections throughout the staff – on both sides of the hall.

It’s often the PD who knows the most about connecting with and activating an audience, so it follows that the PD can be a tremendous asset to sellers … as long as they’re willing to take on that role. PDs who learn to work collaboratively with sales get ahead of many of the bad ideas that can arise when inexperienced sellers are confronted with challenging clients. Those PDs are familiar faces with a demonstrated interest in the sales goals of their station(s) – and not some imagined adversary committed to stripping away all the revenue.

As radio fights for listenership among a population with an increasing number of audio entertainment options at home, at work, and in the car, your enemies are all of those other media choices – not the folks down the hall at the station. It’s always been the case – and it will remain so: If you work in commercial radio, you work in advertising sales.