H C Smith Ltd is pleased to represent WFMT in its search for a new Head of Programming and Operations. WFMT is one of the world’s most respected classical and folk music radio stations, accessible via broadcast at 98.7FM, streaming live at wfmt.com, and on the WFMT app. WFMT’s purpose is to enrich lives, engage communities, and inspire exploration.
In December of 1951, a radio station with the call letters WFMT made its debut on Chicago’s airwaves. Founders Bernie and Rita Jacobs had a vision: to create a station they themselves could enjoy, respect, and share with others. WFMT would strive to entertain, engage, and above all, respect its listeners with a quality and variety of programming found nowhere else. The station’s first series of Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert broadcasts began in 1965. In 1968, WFMT began 24-hour broadcasting and that same year Bernard Jacobs sold WFMT to WGN Continental Broadcasting Company, which in turn donated the station to WTTW in 1970.
Today, with an annual operating budget of approximately nine million dollars, WFMT is recognized for trusted hosted and produced programming, immersive live performances and concerts, strong partnerships with community organizations, and championing young, local musicians and access to the arts. Across broadcast and digital channels, WFMT spotlights inspiring music, musicians, and musical performances from Chicago and around the world including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Sinfonietta, Lyric Opera of Chicago, the New York Philharmonic, and many more. As a strong and treasured Chicago cultural organization, WFMT also syndicates audio programs about arts and culture for radio stations and platforms across the country and abroad through the WFMT Radio Network.
In the years to come, WFMT is committed to broadening the appeal of classical music and taking listeners on a journey of discovery, to inspire people of all ages to explore different kinds of music.
OVERVIEW OF THE POSITION
The WFMT Head of Programming and Operations reports to the President and CEO of WTTW and will work cross-functionally to manage operations and produce and present relevant, best-in-class classical music content that drives audience growth; map station activities to strategic plan initiatives and goals; and align with the organization’s mission, vision, values, and purpose.
DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES:
Collaborate with the leadership team to understand and identify priorities, align resources with budget/funding considerations and operational capabilities, and recommend and deliver on strategic goals.
Identify a clear vision for WFMT, and supervise day-to-day broadcasting, programming, and production to align with vision.
Participate in business planning and execution (e.g., budgeting, community engagement, cross-functional priority projects) with leaders across the organization.
Collaborate cross-functionally to enhance content development, marketing/promotion, digital content production, community engagement, engineering; and development/sales.
Lead produced programs and live in-studio performance development and productions.
Oversee WFMT pledge drive production from planning to execution – including scheduling on-air hosts, producing on-air spots, and serving as on-air fundraiser – with an outcomes-driven and new member acquisition view; requires a focus on sustainability.
Leverage data to implement classical music programming best practices when scheduling hosts, programming hosted classical music, and producing listener-focused playlists across dayparts.
Identify classical music special programming and partnership opportunities to drive community impact across younger and more diverse audiences and work with relevant staff to develop and deliver content for multi-platform promotion and delivery.
Proactively manage a team of approximately 25 + staff including on-air hosts, music director, producers and broadcast managers and coordinators.
Lead by identifying goals and objectives and deploy resources most effectively, providing constructive feedback, incorporating performance measurement, and reinforcing accountability.
Oversee the WFMT syndication business, including station relations and operations, to meet and maximize annual financial targets to ensure long-term financial sustainability.
In collaboration with key staff, oversee music scheduling database and other systems.
Perform other duties as assigned; some travel required.
CANDIDATE QUALIFICATIONS AND QUALITIES:
Must have a deep love and knowledge of classical music, both traditional and expanding canons from the long-established masters through new music from emerging artists.
Forward-looking knowledge of trends in radio and audio streaming that will guide creation, development, and execution of new ideas.
Demonstrated ability to build effective teams across a variety of working styles and personalities.
Ability to lead and cultivate a business culture of collaboration, contribution, accountability, and creativity focused on audience growth and high quality, audience-driven content.
Mentor, and foster cooperation and alignment among a diverse staff with myriad priorities.
Ability to present to small and large groups in person, virtually, and during on-air drives.
Bachelor’s degree and a minimum of 7-10 years of leadership experience in radio broadcasting and/or performing arts administration. MBA a plus.
HC Smith Ltd is a retained executive search and consulting firm. For more than 30 years, HC Smith Ltd has been recognized as a very successful family-owned boutique firm. Our business and our passion is people. We serve a broad range of clients, from Fortune 500 companies to world-class orchestras and museums, as well as institutions in the public and educational sector. Consultants include Managing Director, Becca Smith along with Partner and Senior Consultant EB Smith, Senior Consultant Judith Frankfurt and Project Manager, Suzanne Wilson.