Give And Take, Live And Learn

by Albert Berkshire

A few years ago, the first article I wrote for Radio And Production was called “The Producers.” It talked about maintaining a healthy relationship with your producers. Now, after a few years of working to maintain relationships with members of every department in the radio station (including Dot, my co-writer and Andrew, my producer), I find myself feeling the need to express my opinion about how you should maintain a healthy relationship with people outside your radio stations.

First of all, I think I should be completely candid. (This is where my editor slips in the line “opinions expressed by this writer do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors and publishers of this magazine.”) I’m writing this article because I’ve seen other radio stations both here in this market, and in other small to medium-sized markets do some downright, unbelievably stupid things. And frankly, I think it’s time someone told all of them how to stop screwing up so that radio in general doesn’t look like the whining, sniffling baby-of-an-advertising-medium that our clients might get the impression we are. That “someone” today, is me.

Here are some ideas, rules, pointers and tips that you can share with your creative and production department, and more importantly, sales reps and managers – 'cause we all know fish rot from the head down.

Know We Are All Human

When you have a competing radio station in your town, you also have other radio people in your town. They are paid about the same as you. It’s a fact of the business. It’s called market value. These equally treated, somewhat undervalued “radio professionals” are much like you. They love the business; hate the bullshit. They love to get off early; hate to stay late. They love things that go smoothly; hate things that get screwy. See? We’re all alike. And… we’re all different. Your goal in life (and your department) should be to remember that we’re all just a bunch of people living in Radioland. We’re all very much the same; only we work in different buildings.

Protect What You Have

If you have a royalty-free reciprocal agreement with your competitors (i.e. you freely trade produced creative for broadcast at the client’s request to benefit the client), do more than honour it. Cherish it!! I know dozens of producers, all in different markets that would kill to have the same type of reciprocal agreement at their disposal. It makes life easy for everyone. EVERYONE including your client! So don’t do anything to make it go “screwy.” And don’t let anyone else screw it up for you — especially your least favorite sales rep or manager.

Shut the Hell Up

Never bitch to the client about “the other guys.” If you do, you are an idiot. There is nothing that can ruin your reputation (or that of your company) more in the eyes of your client and your fellow radio-folk across town than a little “slag fest.” And you never know, your client may have a friend in your competitor’s building and is using your station because he (the educated client) knows your format better targets his customer base and demographic. At the same time, if the client thinks it is necessary to slag your competition, take the time to point out their strengths. I am the first to jump up and defend the writers and producers of other stations, even if I think they are complete morons. The client most likely has little or no idea what their day-to-day life is like. And while I’m not privy to the details, I do know the general outline of a creative writer’s day. There are some lines you just shouldn’t cross. The “Slag Line” is one of them!

Put Down Your Sookie Blanket

Never email, phone, fax or send smoke signals to your client if the creative for his campaign hasn’t arrived. Call the people who are sending it. Look for some details before you stir up the shit pile in your overanxious mind. There’s no one “out to get you.” Those people at that other radio station aren’t purposefully “holding” your spot to piss you off. They’d like to leave early, too. (Remember paragraph 4?) And if you’re the one sending audio to another station, and you take a call from them looking for the commercial, remember, they too are just hoping to leave early! (Again, paragraph 4.) Keep in mind, they’re the people who will “need a spot” from you next week. They’re not dumb enough to piss in their own pool. You shouldn’t be either. Just call them, ask them when you can expect it, what the title is, to which email address are they sending it, and ask them if they have dial-up, ADSL, or cable Internet access. Any one of these could affect the delivery speed of the email containing your precious audio — the audio you didn’t have to write, approve, rewrite, voice and produce.

Shut the Hell Up Again

Stop complaining. Be kind to others. Get on with your responsibilities. Clean up your desk and get ready to leave early.

This is radio. God only knows whom it is I’m quoting, but “IT AIN’T ROCKET SCIENCE!” Nothing is more frustrating than having people treat radio like it is the end of the world. I have fun in this business. Sure, I can rant with the best of them, but I refuse to make things go “screwy.”

Please think about this for a while. Please don’t be the one to screw it all up for all of us. If you have a relationship with your competitors, use it to the best of your ability — and let them do the same. If you don’t have a relationship with them, print this, give it to your manager and tell him to call me at 250.860.1010, extension 233 and I’ll explain (free of charge) how he can start to make everyone’s “small to medium-sized market” life easier.

Somewhere at the end of your day there’s a meal, a beer, a partner, or your precious children, just waiting for you to come home. Treat your competitor like they are family, and you’ll have one more person who’s always happy to hear from you.

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