Here’s What Your Future in Radio Looks Like!


Be warned, whether you work on air or off air, dual roles and multi-tasking are a reality in radio and will become even more so in the future.


“Ok first here’s the old ‘war story ‘ When I was on air I used to do six 6-hour mid dawns a week on 2dayfm. And I used to pre record the seventh one, plus I was Music Director and there were Promotional duties”

If you’re on the air you need to multi-task; that means promotional, programming, sales duties. Don’t kid yourself – you have to do whatever is required.

If you work in radio it makes a lot of sense to learn as many skills as possible. It’s worth having something to fall back on; it gives you greater choices in the future. And you will surely need them.

Learning to schedule music, assistant programming duties, social media, promotional work etc will give you greater opportunities for longevity and success in radio.

In small to medium sized markets, that already happens.

Being an on air talent isn’t a 3-4 hour job, far from it, it’s a full time role. If you are in a metro market you will already be working at least 8 hours a day with the preparation and promo work required. And if you’re in regional radio you will already be doing other duties already making it more than a full day.

To deliver great on air work, you need to work and prep hard. It takes a great deal of preparation to deliver an exceptional air shift. Being on air is NOT a part time job. Some of that work will be at the station and there’s preparation outside of work hours.

The trend will only increase for on air talent to do dual roles such as on air PD’s, on air MD’s etc so make sure you have the competitive advantage if you want to further your career.


Off air talent, management, executives and the like will more and more have combined dual roles such as combined PD/MD, PD/EP, PD/GM, GM/Sales roles.

Examples already include KIIS Melbourne’s Brendan Danger, he was PD and Breakfast at Mix Melbourne for some time, Steve St John was PD and Breakfast at NEWFM for a number of years, Sean Murphy has the dual roles of Assistant Content Director and Creative Content Specialist at Triple M Adelaide and perhaps the best example currently is at Nova in Brisbane where Jay Walkerden has the dual role of PD and GM. He is one of the first in Australia, probably the first in a major metro market in this country, in that sense Jay is a pioneer.

Jay said “Nova Entertainment is all about content creation and that’s one of my passions as a programmer so to actually lead a team that creates content for either clients is not that much of a stretch and it’s something that I enjoy as a leader. It sounds like a cliché but surround yourself with good people and let them do their job and support and nurture them along the way. That’s how I have worked as a programmer and that’s how I like to be managed and that’s my approach as GM/PD “

He sees the greatest challenge as time management “Time is always a challenge but I don’t think there is anyone that works in radio that’s not time poor. Its picking the big rocks to work on and making sure you don’t spend your day fighting fires.”

And the key to making it work, Jay says “Balance is the key, time out of the station to make sure you hear the station, walk the floor, listen , be present in meetings , listen ,  be out in market , listen , celebrate wins and challenge to find a better way. The Group Exec’s have been really supportive and helped nurture me in this new role, which has been fantastic and also insightful.  

Tracy Johnson was one of the very first to do the dual role of GM and PD at Star 100 in San Diego, USA, some years ago.

Tracy JohnsonTracy said “Traditionally, sales managers become GM’s and spend the majority of their time with sales, leaning more on programming people in the areas they may be weakest. My approach was just the opposite. Being a programming guy, I spent the majority of my time with my strength, depending on great sales managers for support. I’ve always believed that those who come up through product development make the best managers, as long as they understand business and have a sense of the big picture. The transition was fairly easy for me, owing in large part to strong support from upper management.“

Tracy explained the challenges of the dual role “One was having to spend more time on sales calls and managing the sales managers. It’s just not as much fun! The other is an internal challenge of balancing our two customers. We serve listeners (programming) and advertisers (sales). These two customers have very different interests. One wants to be entertained without interruption and the other just wants to sell things to our audience! Programmers have a single focus, as do sales managers. But their single focus is completely opposite. As GM, my responsibility was to serve both customers, while achieving company goals and expectations (budgets). This led to a classic tug-of-war in my head: Add a few units or cut the commercial load? Accept questionable copy or protect brand integrity? The result was usually a constant sense of compromise, which is probably healthy, but was an adjustment in attitude!

Tracy said they he made it work was “Having a strong support system from upper management and department heads, all of whom were better in their area of expertise than I could be, and  communication with the staff and team. Being present, visible and constantly explaining strategy and goals is an important part of the job. This isn’t a position to lock yourself in the office in front of a monitor and work on clocks “

Everyone will have to work even harder in the future as radio companies look for greater efficiencies and growth. The passion for the medium is what should spur you on.

Radio station owners and radio groups will continue to expect more from their talent both off air and on air.

Working hard, working smart, dual roles and multi-tasking is the way of the future in radio. And remember to have fun!

“Old war story #2 Talking of mulit tasking, when working in regional radio a long time ago, as well as doing breakfast and a  ‘lunchtime ‘ shift, I had to wash the managers car every weekend “

Brad March is a Director of Radio Today and a former Group Program Director and CEO of Austereo. He is Director of Marchmedia.

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