"...And Make It Real Creative!" - August 2003

and-make-it-real-creative-logo-3By Trent Rentsch

Dear Powers That Be,

writing-letterRecently there has been some question about my time management skills. You may recall that the issue came up during an impromptu one-on-one Production meeting with a certain sales rep. There are three misconceptions that came from this meeting that I would like to clear up. One, the meeting was not broadcast over the air; our own voices supplied the volume. Two, I do know that the sales rep’s parents were married when he was born. And finally, I not only know that I have time management issues, but I’ve also been devising a plan to improve them. If you would allow me a few more paragraphs, I would like to present two elements of this plan to you now.

Minimize the Paperwork Issue

The aforementioned “discussion” reminded me just how important this is to effective time management. Our time was wasted on an argument that went nowhere other than in your hands, which in turn wasted your time as well. This very narrative would be a complete waste of time if I didn’t have a column due…

My goal is to eliminate such counter-productive communication. I contend that the real culprit is paperwork. By this I mean that there’s not enough of it.

Let me give you an example. The conversation I had with the sales rep today (which Traffic now calls “The Pummeling near Prod 1”) began as a discussion about a new account the rep had sold. The production order he presented me with contained, and I read it now verbatim from the bar napkin, “Big Sid’s. Sticky Buffalo Wings. Near the mall. Make it funny, two voices. Starts Friday.” Only two things were completely clear. The commercial starts its run on Friday, and the wings are sticky. The last part was especially clear due to the condition of the napkin.

I go to the rep’s cubicle to ask for more information; he’s not there. I call his cellphone, get his voicemail. I nicely ask for more information. Specifically, is Big Sid’s a restaurant, a bar & grill, or a roadside stand? Which mall is it near? What does Big Sid consider funny? Two people talking Sticky Wings??

A day goes by and I hear nothing. The following day I meet the rep in the hall and ask if he heard my voicemail. He tells me he did, that Sid’s is a bar & grill near Mondo Mall, and that Bernie (the guy who owns Sid’s) wants their phone number in the ad. He tells me that he’ll get me the number by the afternoon. As for my other requests, he rolls his eyes and tells me he’ll “try” to get more out of Bernie. I remind him that this is Wednesday and the ad starts on Friday. “No problem,” he assures me.

Thursday morning comes and my voicemail is flashing. It’s the rep. “Yeah, listen, Bernie wants a man and a woman voice, talking about how funny sticky wings are. You know this creative stuff better than me. Later.” No phone number; as much information as I had before. I dial his cellphone, voicemail again. I remind him again that I need the phone number, suggest that a little more information about the place to work with would help, and that the spot starts the next morning. I then hang up and move on to other things until I hear from him.

At 2 p.m. I am walking to the break room when he comes bounding up the hall to me. “Hey, where’s that spot for Big Sid’s? I gotta play it for Bernie RIGHT NOW! I TOLD YOU THAT!”

In my mind, businesses adjoining the station wouldn’t have felt compelled to call the police not long after that statement… if I had simply been given a complete and specific production order from the beginning.

Wasting Time With Technology

While I realize that the music format of the station is “’60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s and Today,” I don’t believe that the theme should be applied to the equipment we use. Coaxing a less noisy signal from our circa 1968 production board, 1972 reel-to-reel, buzzy pro-sumer reverb unit the engineer found at a garage sale in ’87, while dubbing into a computer automation system with the same version of the software it was installed with in 1996, is a time-consuming challenge today and everyday.

A small investment in an updated computer with production software, an internet connection, along with some TLC to the entire room would save me a great deal of time. It would also save time for our sales reps who are now forced to deliver reels of commercials to other stations, while the other stations simply email dubs. And as you reminded me in our meeting this morning, “time is money!”

I hope that you will consider these serious and constructive ways to improve my time management skills, and to save time and money for the entire station. It “takes as long as it takes” for good Creative, but the road from start to finish is much shorter without detours. I’m asking for your assistance to pave the way to efficient use of my time and skills. I would also like to again apologize for the “chat” I had in the hall with said sales rep, and offer to pay for any repairs to the wall that my coffee mug is now imbedded in. 

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