Job Title: Program Director
Type of Company: I work for a multimedia company that owns television stations, radio stations, outdoor advertising, and television distribution. I work for the television stations group.
Education: BS, Television Production, Hofstra University
Previous Experience: I had a number of internships while in college. I interned in the sales department for NBC Network in New York. In Boston, I interned for a radio station in the sales department and a TV station in the news department. I also worked at the campus television station while in college.
Job Tasks: I am currently responsible for the programming of two television stations. This involves purchasing programs, movies, and sports franchises. I make sure the program schedules for the stations are properly listed in print, online, and onscreen guides. I make sure that all departments within the station know which shows are airing at what time and the specific episode that is airing. I make sure the scheduling of all programs is in accordance with the contracts for the specific program.
One of the stations has a network affiliation and I make sure any changes the network makes in the schedule are distributed within and outside of the station. I have to come up with contingency plans for network sports programs that overlap their time slots. If the station airs a football game, for example, that is scheduled to run from 3 to 7PM, I have to be sure that our departments know what to do if the game goes into overtime. I also have to fill in any weekend time slots that the network doesn't use.
The other station is an independent, which means I am responsible for purchasing programs for the entire 24 hour day. I schedule movie titles to air on the weekends. The station has a few outside sports contracts. I am responsible for scheduling the specific games into the station's schedule and for moving the existing programming within contractual windows. I am also responsible for the monthly FCC Children's Televisions report. This report certifies that the station is running the required children's programming in accordance with FCC regulations. I am also the person who responds to any viewer phone calls, letters or emails to the station with questions/comments/complaints.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is putting together a schedule that will be watched by millions of people. If you get the right shows, sports and movies, you see a lot of people watching your station. It's like putting together the pieces of a puzzle: figuring out the correct programs to buy and putting them in the right places to get the biggest audience.
The worst part of the job is figuring out how to deal with things out of your control. For example, when a show is coming out for purchase, but is bought by another station group, I don't even get a chance to bid for the program because I am locked out from the start. Many aspects of programming, from show distribution to purchase, are controlled by media conglomerates these days. This makes it difficult for independents and tends to stifle free enterprise.
But the bad news cuts both ways. In the station affiliated with a network, I am often stuck with programs I don't want because my own company could not sell them to a competitor in the market.
1. Gain as much experience as possible ahead of time. Work for a campus station while in school. Work as many internships as possible in different areas of the business. This will give you the opportunity to see how the departments interact and you may find the one department you like best. It will also give you contacts within the business to talk to and consult with as you get closer to graduating.
2. Take an entry level position that will get your foot in the door. Once you are there, ask to observe different parts of the business on your own time. Talk to people to find out what they do. See if you can shadow them to see what the job entails. Always be available to help out when needed for special projects. This will show you are a team player and will teach you what departments do and give you hands on training.
3. Meet with as many people as possible to gain contacts and insight into different businesses within the field. Do not be too narrow in your focus. Be persistent, but respectful of other people's time.
Additional Thoughts: At the beginning, it is very important to learn as much as possible. The more you know about how an organization runs, the more effective you can be in helping the organization reach its goals. You may think you know what job you want, but that could change when you get more involved. Or, if that particular department is not hiring, start in another to gain experience and make contacts. I started as a part-time receptionist to get my foot in the door at a station. I had no idea what the programming department did. It was not until I was there and met different people and saw what the various departments did that I found programming.
The important qualities, I have found, are respect for others and attention to detail. Do not keep others waiting for something you need to finish before they can start. It shows a lack of respect for what others do and for their time. Getting the small details right the first time keeps things running efficiently. You do not want to have to constantly correct the little things because it will have a ripple effect on those around you.
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