Leanne ‘Stampsy’ Stamps joined the iHeartRadio Network in March this year and discovered that a passion and appreciation for music, and a strong connection with the network are essential attributes for a successful online programmer.
We asked Stampsy to share her thoughts about modern music programming, enhancing the listener experience and how to get ahead in music directing and programming.
I’ve worked in commercial radio for almost two decades, with the last 11 of those years in Music.
I’m now the iHeartRadio Music Director and Programmer, after almost seven years as K rock Music Director (and Drive Announcer), and later as the Grant Network CHR Music Director.
It’s extraordinary how far the industry has evolved in audio broadcasting and content accessibility, from where I began my career in 2003. When I started at the Southern Hub in Albury, I was loading 27 individual stations’ “12 days of Christmas countdown” commercials into Maestro in real time. Now, I’m building a station from my laptop in my Sydney apartment.
The car’s FM radio is just one of the ways we now reach the consumer. We connect through DAB+ radio, smart speakers, and portable smart devices in our cars and in the home. We work alongside and compete with online streaming platforms such as Spotify, podcasting, and custom playlists.
Social Media is shaping the way we program music. TikTok is a launchpad for new artists to be discovered, and music trends on the platform are shaping global charts. So, we collaborate. TikTok Trending on iHeartRadio Australia allows us to reflect on those trends.
Our core iHeartRadio team of five have run an entire network of stations from home for the last 20 weeks. The 80’s, The 90’s, iHeartCountry Australia, iHeartRadio Dance and iHeartAustralia stations have been programmed from my kitchen bench.
I created the MMAD This Song Is For You pop-up station remotely, connecting with contributors around the country across the eight week campaign.
The idea of running a station in this way in 2003 would have been unthinkable. I didn’t believe I could achieve this level of quality and success a year ago. The technology we have today makes this possible.
When I moved to Sydney seven months ago, I had to dive right into the pace of a metro market while learning new systems. I did much of my learning at home through a lockdown. My online audio experience in previous regional markets was limited to online streaming of the commercial radio station and editing a weekly podcast.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Within my short time with ARN, this role has expanded my mind around what we can do with audio and how we can further enhance the listener’s experience.
The scope and the reach of the iHeartRadio Network is scarily exhilarating. We have millions of users who connect with iHeartRadio. That’s another significant change in music and programming over the last 20 years.
Someone from anywhere in the world or across the country can connect with your product. At previous regional and provincial stations, our potential audience reach was substantially less than that, and limited to the broadcast zone.
In the last six months, I’ve used what I know about the industry, while building on new lessons to expand new ways to program to niche audiences. I have fast discovered that “no two stations are the same”.
Each station requires nurturing. I’ve become a sponge, working alongside some of the industry’s best minds to create a digital footprint in the music landscape and create bespoke programming to target a specific or niche audience.
Over my time in Music Directing, I’ve found two skills that are equally important to systems and technology that you can’t program through a music scheduler. You need a passion and appreciation for music, and a strong connection with your network.
These beliefs took me from a good Music Director to an ARN / iHeartRadio Music Director and Programmer. My relationships with Record Companies, PR etc are my greatest strength and strongest asset. I’ve worked hard to establish these and continue to nurture them.
When I think back to why it took me 18 years to work at a Metro level, it was myself. I had the understanding, experience, and drive to succeed. However, I believed that I didn’t have the “necessary and current skills” required to execute the role “perfectly”. I lacked self-belief.
The industry is evolving at a rapid rate, so no one is ever READY. What I know now will evolve and change as the industry does.
The key to success is the ability to adapt and grow in the role as technology, pathways and music continue to evolve. You need to be open-minded to change. I have the hunger to keep learning to become a better Music Director and Programmer.