To the Editor:
When I wrote the article, "Production: A Salesman's Point Of View" for your March 1990 issue, I knew I would get some hate mail. In fact, you warned me about it. I hope these letters (especially those that were published) are not an indication of the level of intelligence of your readership on the whole. Allow me to begin by restating what the article was intended to do, which was to acquaint (or re-acquaint) production types with what broadcast sales is all about. Once you understand what we do and why we do it, it is assumed that the potential conflict between the two groups can be minimized. The article was also intended to highlight the increasingly important role of production in the sales process and the need for production and sales to work together toward common goals: 1) higher ratings which lead to 2) consistent revenue growth.
The published responses ranged from a guy in Detroit who was obviously offended that a Salesman "polluted" his publication, to an overworked production/air talent (oops!, I meant personality) from Iowa, to a "tongue-tied" comedian from Columbus, Ohio. I hope Karl Gruber's copywriting is more creative than his letter. Or maybe he's one of those Production Directors that takes pride in making bad copy sound good with his superior ability. Each of the contributors, to a greater or lesser degree, lived up to their role in the perception of the relationship between sales and production. The only one who seemed to "get my drift" was Craig Roberts (WHO AM/FM). He referred to "the big victory," the one where the entire station wins by building a cohesive team of sales, production, engineering, etc. instead of succumbing to the standard departmentalization that plagues our industry. His kind of attitude gets you promotions, raises, authority, new equipment, and R-E-S-P-E-C-T!!! Whiners and "sales-haters" like my buddy in Detroit will jump from one station to the next until they wind up with the production job that no one else will take. You know, the station with the production studio that was designed when game shows were popular radio programs. I am also curious to find out from Mark Blackwell exactly what he does to "get past salespeople like me" and what he does to "make his case clear." Maybe he drags "bad AE's" by the tie behind the transmitter and hits them over the head with an old cart machine. My response to this is, "Go ahead Mark, make my day!" I'm surprised that in your six or seven years of production experience you haven't taken notice that the sales department wins nine out of every ten arguments with production (read my article a little closer and you'll know why).
I'd like to ask each of these fellas to do me a favor and re-read the article (objectively this time) and then tell me if there is anything in it that is not true. Come up with a legitimate beef instead of defensive comments and I'll be the first one to admit defeat. In the meantime, I guess, one good slam deserves another. See you in the sanctuary!
Doug Ferber, Account Executive
As promised, you have been given your space to respond to your hate mail. It's interesting to note that the first thing you do is put down the intelligence of the people who responded to your article. It is not unlike a salesperson to question a production person's intelligence first and his creative genius afterwards when it is this creative talent that has them at their stations to begin with. That's like judging a musician by his clothes.
But this whole issue is really all very petty BS. If you ask me, it's the almighty dollar that is at the root of the entire production vs. sales dilemma. How? Just make the Production Director a partner with each salesperson. Take away the production person's salary and put him on a commission basis, too. The Production Director would get a commission from every order you sell for which a spot must be produced. Just make this one change in how Production Directors are compensated, then sit back and watch what happens. Production Directors will start begging salespeople to get off their butts and sell. They'll want to join salespeople on sales calls to help push the order through. Better spots will get cut because return business would then mean more dollars for the Production Director as well as the salesperson. And deadlines for production would become a thing of the past. Now that's teamwork!
I'm a 20 year old guy, the 6-10 night screamer who got thrown into the job of acting Production Director (a job I love, I might add!) when our former chief prod guru and the GM had a slight personality conflict. I've been hacking my way through reams of tape and totally destroying spots for about the last six months, and I think I'm starting to get the hang of it! At any rate, I think RAP can only help me as I struggle through the hell of insane salespeople, jock who whomp the snot out of the equipment, and the constant nightmare of "something new and original.
So, to sum it up, I'm a novice production rat turned pro, and I need all the help I can get! Please put my name in the Production Network and mention to all the prod nuts that I can use all the tips and advice they can give!
Thanks for having a tip sheet that can help out us new guys as well as the production vets! I can't wait for my next issue and Cassette!
Rob Walker WILI-FM, Willimantic, CT
Greetings from beautiful downtown Livermore, CA (in the San Francisco Bay Area... you know, the place whenever the Giants and A's meet at Candlestick Park there are earthquakes!).
We really enjoy all the good information and "The Cassette" every month. It has helped us improve our production skills and obtain some new "toys" for the production studio. We'll be moving into larger studios soon, and that means new and improved equipment is on the way! Radio And Production really is the Production Director's "bible." Thanks for the monthly bible study.
Mark Davis Production Director KKIQ-FM, San Francisco, CA