Letters to the Editor - October 1991

LettersIn the face of hard, cold economic facts (i.e. "The Bottom Line"), as Creative Director of WMYI-FM, I am being cornered into accepting tapes and producing more and more scripts provided by bad agencies with no production values - no music, no sound effects, dry as Melba toast. In most cases, the copy we are provided doesn't have a concept that makes a dry spot work best! In most cases, the client heard dry spots elsewhere and believes the "myth" that their ad will "stand out more" if it is produced the same way. True, it will stand out, but to its benefit?

Our sales force, at one time able to coerce the client into better artistic decisions, is now just trying to get business on the air. Needless to say, they are viewing the situation with short-sighted logic that says, "Oh, come on. It won't drive listeners away if we do it this ONE time." I know, however, this is just the beginning. We once had the cleanest radio station in the market, roaring through stop-sets with sharp production and award-winning copy. Now, the bottom is dropping out with every break.

HELP US!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Somewhere amongst those spreading the Gospel For Better Production there must be numbers, facts and figures, charts, graphs -- ANYTHING regarding the impact of commercials WITH production values vs. those without music or sound effects. Do you have any such material with which I can arm myself in this battle? The car dealerships are encamped just outside, even as we speak, with dull scripts that begin "Public Notice! Public Notice!" and I become more and more wary of political candidates who ask to "borrow" our production room.

Many thanks for any support you can lend. Send information to me at WMYI-FM, Suite 801, NCNB Plaza, 7 North Laurens Street, Greenville, SC 29601-2744, or fax information to my attention: (803) 233-7036.

If I am right and such research exists, radio will win another victory. If I am wrong, and all of us prefer production values because we merely love "the toys," then I will eat crow... dry.

Monica Ballard, Creative Services Director
WMYI 102.5 FM, Greenville, SC

Dear Monica,

Unfortunately, we know of no such research that shows the benefit of commercials with sound effects and music over those produced dry. Besides, there are quite a few "dry voice spots" out there that are very effective in their purpose. If the "right" dry spots were picked for such research, the outcome could easily be the very opposite of what you're looking for.

I believe you hit the nail on the head in the first sentence of your letter when you referenced "The Bottom Line." A lot of stations are hurting, and if you put a "bad" spot in front of a GM along with a good check, the inclination will be to take the money and air the spot. Your enemy is not a lack of charts and graphs that show what we all know is true anyway. Your enemy is our economic environment. Even if you had the research that proved the value of good production to a station and its clients, a station in need of funds is likely to take today's money today and worry about tomorrow's ratings tomorrow.

Still, there must be something you can do, right? Right. All you're trying to do is get "bad" spots off your airwaves. Those bad spots are coming from two places: bad agencies and ignorant clients. Given the time and the patience, there is no reason why you cannot develop a good relationship with the people providing you with this lousy copy. Rather than accepting the copy from these clients and agencies, try to get them to use your ideas for a different spot. Discuss better ideas with them while being gentle about critiquing theirs. If you're simply taking this copy and then complaining to management, you're barking up the wrong tree. Go to the source. SHOW them how their spot can be better. Who knows, you might even get a few bucks from the agency for doing THEIR job, or you might get a trade deal cut with a client that believes you are truly trying to help him.

In the meantime, if any of our readers know of any research even close to what you're looking for, we'll ask them to send it to you and to send us a copy as well so we can publish it. Good luck!

P.S. Dry crow tastes best when lightly seasoned with garlic salt.


Thank you very much for the September '91 interview. ...Everyone here, from the GM down to the part-timers, was very impressed. Even my wife liked it!

As for the rest of the September issue, the Test Drive was quite interesting. As I told you, we don't have MIDI gear yet, but the MIDI files would seem to solve that age old production problem: music close, but not quite right. I guess it's piano lessons for me this winter.

I like the idea of the Promo Page. It was also great to hear "Snookums & Punkin" again. I love that promo -- very ear catching.

Howard Joseph raised a point that more production people should give more attention to (RAP Forum). If your sales department won't respect the reasonable deadlines you set, you HAVE to get the GM on your side. Make management realize that if Production and Creative function smoothly, your existing clients will be happy and come back. You will make more money with less aggravation in the long run if reasonable deadlines are set and followed.

And once again, I agree with Dennis Daniel. We are artists. Stand up! Be proud to be a Production god! You CAN do anything, no matter how much or how little fancy equipment you have! Machines are only a means to an end. As I said in the interview, be creative in as many ways as you can without using that straight "A to B" line.

Craig Jackman, Production Director
CHEZ-FM, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

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