A Comment on “Gunning For My Job”

by Forrest Martin

Hello, my name is Forrest Martin. I’m a writer and producer at the Creative Services Group in Atlanta. Over the years I’ve read many great articles in the RAP mag… Frost, Ann Dewig, Steve Stone, and multiple doses of insight from Dave Foxx just to name a few. But I have to tell you I was actually disgusted after reading the article “Gunning for my job.” It is loaded with condescending phrases, hypocrisy, and generally bad advice for someone applying for a gig in the radio industry. Not to mention, insulting to the medium of radio itself.

“If you can’t work without Pro Tools, or Vegas, or any other software program; don’t apply, as we’re not going to switch a workstation just for you, no matter how impressive you are”

You must be kidding me. You mean to tell me if some amazing producer sent in a smoking badass demo, a PD wouldn’t hire him/or her because he/or she happened to use a different editor than they had installed on the computer in the production room? That may be how they do things in Canada, but it certainly isn’t how things are done here — at least not in my experience. Most editors cost about the same amount of money, less than $500. I don’t know how much that gig pays up in Ottawa at CHEZ, but for the purposes of this, I’ll guess $40,000. According to that article, a PD or “Production Supervisor” in this case wouldn’t hire someone because they used a piece of software that would cost less than $500 to replace. Most PDs I know would get that handled, and get the hire they really want. When I was hired to go up and work for Entercom in Seattle, they actually asked me what I preferred working on because they were rebuilding the room they were going to put me in at the time. Furthermore, in this day and age, most production people have their own home studio, and I know a lot who bring their own rigs in to work on them. Heck, even with the amazing studios we have here at the Creative Services Group, I bring in my own laptop because it has software which our machines at the studio don’t. So for someone to say that they wouldn’t hire someone because of the kind of editor they use “no matter how impressive they are” is complete rubbish.

“In the ad, I didn’t give a mail address, just to send tape and resume to my email address. That means that I expected to see your resume and demo in electronic form”

Great, now we’re encouraging creative people, not to be creative when applying for a job. Email is so bland, and not personal. In 2001 I applied for a gig at KITS, Live 105 in San Francisco. Steve Stone had called me and told me about the opening there and that he had dropped my name to the PD there and to send him my demo. I could have just emailed him, and gotten lost in the shuffle. Instead I Fed Ex’d my stuff there, called the receptionist and had her hold my Fed Ex package till noon. I called a San Francisco Pizza Hut, ordered the PD a large cheese Pizza, and had it delivered to the station. The receptionist took my Fed Ex package, along with the Pizza and handed it to Sean Demery, the PD at the time at Live 105.  I sent 3 more Fed Ex packages, one each day, and guess what???? On Friday I got a call from Sean. He informed me that he loved my enthusiasm, and thought my demos were solid but that I just wasn’t ready for that gig. Had I done some research before jumping the gun and sending my demos there, I would have discovered that the position that was open was left by Will Morgan, who was leaving to go replace John Frost at KROQ. “Wasn’t ready for that gig…,” that is an understatement, but I made a contact, and got my name out there. Use email to get stuff to people quick, but to discourage people from mailing you a demo is just wrong.

“Maybe you want to keep your commercial and image skills separate.” “Please keep them short, 2, to 2.5 minutes max each if you go that way.” “ If you send a single file demo also keep the time down. Five minutes is way too long.” “You should aim for 3.5 minutes or less.” “Some email systems will reject attachments bigger than 5Mb.” “Sending an 8Mb or 10 Mb demo just bogs down my email system.” “My PD dislikes demos that are compilations of best bits. He likes having full spots or promos in a demo, so to each his own.” “Maybe have a demo in each style.”

Holy Crap, I need a flow chart just to send that guy a demo. First it says not to separate stuff into separate files (which I agree with by the way), but then points out later in the article that “His” PD doesn’t like compilations, and then suggests having different demos, and in the same breath complains about files bogging down his email system. Unbelievable. Not to mention, I don’t know any established radio production person who doesn’t have their demo in compilation form. And as far as keeping commercial and image skills separate, I don’t know anyone who puts them together in a single demo.

“If you think compressing your demo down with a small bit rate compromises the demo and the detail, and I respect that, then send the compressed MP3 as a reference. Then use your creative thinking skills to find a mailing address and send me a CD.” “However as much as I respect that, I also believe that the average listener won’t notice the difference. If who we’re trying to reach isn’t going to notice, why should I?”

Those quotes are actually the ones that made me want to send you this email. “If who we’re trying to reach isn’t going to notice why should I?” How about the fact that our medium is under attack from every direction possible, Satellite radio, iPods, Internet Radio, Video Games, and numerous others. All we have is sound. For a fellow radio production person to insult our industry by insinuating that listeners don’t care about the quality of the sound we put out is down right sickening. And even more disturbing is that he is actually encouraging people to send him bad quality versions of their work to get a gig. Then, after previously in the article making condescending statements about people mailing demos to him, contradicts himself by suggesting that people go on a scavenger hunt to find his address, and mail him a copy of their demo on CD!!!!

“If you want $10,000 more than what we’re thinking, then that’s something we could look at if you’re bringing more than expected to the position.”

So, he’d pay a person $10,000 more that he was budgeted for, if the person brings “more than expected to the position…,” but he wouldn’t drop $299 on a copy of Vegas, or $350 on Pro Tools LE “no matter how impressive” the person is. That’s pretty funny.

“Don’t use the word ‘dude’ unless someone else does first.” “Mention if you use a day planner.”

Thanks for the tip. What is that supposed to mean??? If a demo is solid, and sounds great, a PD isn’t NOT going to hire someone because they said “dude” in the interview. And, if you use a day planner, that means that you’re going to be a better production person? See the reference to having a badass demo for that one.

“I don’t care if you think Bill Gates is the anti-Christ, and refuse to use MS Software on principle; if you can’t send a .doc file resume, you better have a backup plan.”

He goes on in the article for another half page, about his own personal word processors on his computer, and how if you “have the software” you could send a .PDF file that that would be fine too. Like if someone doesn’t know how to send a Word document, they’ll know how to format a PDF in Adobe Acrobat. I’m not sure if it’s this way in Canada, but it’s been my experience that most PDs could care less about what is printed on your resume, or cover letter. Frankly, it’s the last thing they look at. The CD goes in the player, and if your demo sucks, it goes straight in the trash, or into the “bad air check” party pile, for later use. If it’s on email, then the delete button gets pushed before the resume is even looked at. The only reason PDs look at your resume is to see what stations you’ve worked at to see if they know anyone at those stations that they can call and ask about you. And secondly, to get your phone number or email address if they happen to like the sound of your demo and their little checkup on your goes good.

“Given all of the above, it was surprisingly easy to cut the original 45 applicants down to first a cut of ten. From that ten, the PD and I interviewed six.”

He actually insulted people for sending him a demo, in one of the very sources where the gig was advertised. After reading this article, I’d bet that there are 39 people out there who are glad they didn’t get a phone call back, and 5 people who wished they didn’t. Am I cynical? Yes. Am I abrasive? Yes. Have I been a bit insulting? Yes. But no more insulting and condescending than the person who wrote the article, “Gunning For My Job.” He insulted not only the people who took the time to apply for a gig at his radio station, but our industry as a whole, and radio production as a craft.

After reading the title, “Gunning For My Job,” I thought that the article maybe would have been about all of the people who are going to schools like Full Sail, or other recording schools, and coming out being able to produce circles around veteran radio producers. That could be an interesting topic of discussion. But no, it was a 3-page lecture on how to submit demos to a medium market radio station in another country. Sorry to be so long winded, but that little statement about why should he care about audio quality when listeners don’t really pissed me off. The other thing that really made me mad is the fact that your magazine is read by a lot of production people in smaller markets, and they take the stuff that is in your magazine very seriously. I know I did. And that they might actually believe some of the stuff that was written there. When I was in Springfield Missouri, I read an interview you did with Steve Stone back in 1998. It had the statement you put at the end of most of your articles: “(producer name here) welcomes your questions and comments at….” I called him and asked him how to get an effect he used. Steve talked to me for 45 minutes on the phone, and it spawned a friendship that lasts to this day. And I thank you for that, and the many other tidbits I’ve picked up over the years Your magazine is a great resource for all the radio production people out there, keep it going.

Forrest Martin, Producer/Writer
Clear Channel Creative Services Group, Atlanta, GA
ForrestMartin@clearchannel.com

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