More than three decades ago, I hired my brother, Bill, to provide backup and internal services as Jacobs Media began to grow. As we were covering all the details, he asked me what his title would be.
After leaving big companies like ABC Radio and Frank Magid & Associates, I was a bit title-averse. I was not a big fan of bureaucracies, and really didn't give the idea of job titles much thought. And at the time, the Oliver North hearings were dominating the news cycle during the Iran-Contra affair.
So, I offered Bill the title of Lieutenant Colonel.
No, he didn't take it. But that will tell you something about my mindset back then. Decades later, I have a very different theory about job titles and what they convey – to both employees and clients.
After Lori Lewis left Jacobs Media, we had big shoes – or better put, boots – to fill. Rather than hiring her replacement, we went in a different direction when we brought in Seth Resler.
While Seth has a nice command of social media, his skill set covers a wide range of digital real estate. And so to make sure his new title reflected his actual job duties, we dismissed the idea of something common – like Director of Digital.
Instead, we went with this:
Digital Dot Connector
It very much describes what Seth does – and he's embraced it. He literally helps our clients better understand how all the digital pieces fit together. And it turns out we may have been a bit ahead of the curve.
A new story in The Wall Street Journal by Te-Ping Chen (sorry, it may be behind their pay wall) – “Who Wants to Be a Ninja? Job Titles Get a Rebranding” – introduces the premise that especially among younger workers, they very much matter.
And a similarly themed story in The Boston Globe – “Creative job titles are the new norm” by Kathleen Pearce – suggests the trend started with tech companies and is now making its way across the job spectrum.
Especially for old-line businesses – banks, automakers, and yes, broadcast radio companies – cool job titles like “Data Wrangler,” “Rock Star,” or “Ninja” convey a more youthful, agile atmosphere. And it speaks to the larger trend of personal branding and self-expression.
Words matter. So do the titles used to describe what people do for businesses. Chen reports that positions like “Growth Hacker” may mean more to today's workers than the traditional VP or SVP stripes so common to legacy companies.
It has always been interesting to me that here in the States, many of our on-air announcers have been traditionally known as DJs – or disc jockeys. In the UK, of course, it's the more evocative, descriptive, and dignified Presenter.
When you think about it, many companies have rebranded their receptionists – Director of First Impressions – but that's often where it stops.
So, consider some of the traditional job titles inside radio stations, many of which are dated-sounding. A refresh might help attract a more modern workforce, not to mention making people feel better about the jobs they do:
Production Director – or – Creative Content Officer
Director of Sales – or – Marketing & Results Strategist
Afternoon DJ – or – Commuting Curation Captain
Account Exec – or – Revenue Jedi
Promotion Director – or – Ambassador of Buzz
Chen quotes a web app worker whose job is to educate and explain his company's products – “I want a job to mean something.”
We all do.
Now, if we could just work on “Consultant.”
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,200 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.
Fred was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2018.