If your high school or college has a radio or television station, volunteer to work on the staff. You can also look for part-time or summer jobs at local radio or television stations. You may not be able to plan the programming at a local station, but you will see how a station works and be able to make contacts with those in the field. If you can't find a job at a local station, at least arrange for a visit and ask to talk to the personnel. You may be able to "shadow" a program director for a day—that is, follow that director for the workday and see what his or her job entails.
Program directors plan and schedule program material for radio and television stations and networks. They work in both commercial and public broadcasting and may be employed by individual radio or television stations, regional or national networks, or cable television systems.
Program directors oversee material including entertainment programs, public service programs, newscasts, sportscasts, and commercial announcements. Program directors decide what material is broadcast and when it is scheduled; they work with other staff members to develop programs and buy programs from independent producers. They are guided by such factors as the budget available for program material, the audience their station or network seeks to attract, their organization's policies on content and other matters, and the kinds of products advertised in the various commercial announcements.
In addition, program directors may set up schedules for the program staff, audition and hire announcers and other on-air personnel, and assist the sales department in negotiating contracts with sponsors of commercial announcements. The duties of individual program directors are determined by such factors as whether they work in radio or television, for a small or large organization, for one station or a network, or in a commercial or public operation.
At small radio stations the owner or manager may be responsible for programming, but at larger radio stations and at television stations the staff usually includes a program director. At medium to large radio and television stations the program director usually has a staff that includes such personnel as music librarians, music directors, editors for recorded segments, and writers. Some stations and networks employ public service directors. It is the responsibility of these individuals to plan and schedule radio or television public service programs and announcements in such fields as education, religion, and civic and government affairs. Networks often employ broadcast operations directors, who coordinate the activities of the personnel who prepare network program schedules, review program schedules, issue daily corrections, and advise affiliated stations on their schedules.
Program directors must carefully coordinate the various elements for a station while keeping in tune with the listeners, viewers, advertisers, and sponsors.
Other managers in radio and television broadcasting include production managers, operations directors, news directors, and sports directors. The work of program directors usually does not include the duties of radio directors or television directors, who direct rehearsals and integrate all the elements of a performance.