By Trent Rentsch
In lieu of gifts this year, I’ve decided to give bad advice. To my father, the survivor of 2 angioplasties and recently diagnosed diabetes, have a few more “fun size” candy bars… what the hell, polish off the bag! To my brother, who could give Jeff Gordon a run on the 4-94 straightaway to the Mall of America, put the pedal to the metal! Those Bloomington, Minnesota cops won’t notice you going 90 in a 35, and if they do, make a point of asking them why they aren’t busy protecting a donut shop rather than bothering you. To my kids, why are you studying so hard?! Like grades are even a 100th as important when trying to get into a good college as knowing the vitals of each and every Pokemon, or the social skills developed during a rousing 30 frames of midnight bowling? And whatever you do, my dear wife, make a point of ignoring that grinding sound coming from under the hood of your car. Everyone knows that taking a car to a service station for a diagnostic visit just makes things worse!
Of course I haven’t forgotten you, dear inconstant reader. I’ve actually kept my eyes open for you all year, picking out only the worst possible advice. Take it from me, each and every bad idea that follows works, sometimes just the way you might expect, often with fallout that keeps giving well beyond the holiday season. So, let the unwrapping begin…
Present #1: Whine.Consistently, often. Don’t choose your battles; make certain that everything annoys you, no matter how big or small the issue. Go to the Program Director and/or the General Manager at least 7 times a day with every problem you notice, from bad equipment to stupid salespeople. If things seem to be fine, dig a little deeper. Odds are something that doesn’t need fixing can be broken with just a few disparaging words to the right person.
Present #2: Don’t go the extra mile. For heavens sake, aren’t your days already long enough? What makes salespeople, clients, PDs, GMs and all those other irritants think that you have to drop everything to take care of THEIR stupid little problem? It’s not your fault that the spot you emailed yesterday didn’t go through because the system was down; it would take a whole 5 MINUTES to send it again. So the client muffed a few words on his first take, like he’s going to get better on a second read. And for crying out loud, if the order and the spots on the CD don’t jive, there are just not enough hours in the day to call someone to clear up the confusion! Your time is too important, too valuable to be wasted, especially on slow days! After all, you need a day to surf the Internet and find a decent replacement for Napster, or chat with other Producers about vital production tips (read, “Have you seen ‘sexybarnyardanimals.com’?”)!
Present #3: Dump all those old reels. Take it upon yourself to grab the big trashcan and clean out all of those out-dated pieces of crap. It’s a new millenium, everything should be on CD. If a client wants to use that jingle they bought and paid for a few years ago, or that spot they loved from last holiday season, they should’ve supplied it on acceptable media in the first place. You might wonder if you should mention it to someone first, but I must caution against it. It’s your department, your storage space! Besides, if anyone discovers that you’re streamlining, they might insist on wasting more of your precious time copying some of that inferior audio to CD.
Present #4: Avoid organization. Calendars, spot databases, to-do lists… they’re terrible time wasters. Not only do you have to set them up and write in them all the time, but then you have to refer to them constantly. Who needs that kind of commitment when you’re already searching through your piles for that copy you wrote last week for the client who’s coming to the studio for a session either today or tomorrow morning (who can remember?). Then there are those five dubs you promised to another client last week, and then the phone call comes that you’re late for a staff meeting… sigh. Your life is chaos; organization would be just one more thing to deal with.
Present #5: Ignore deadlines. At the risk of beating a dead wristwatch, time is nearly as big an enemy as an empty candy dish on the receptionist’s desk. Because it’s impossible to catch up, any deadline is unreasonable—two week’s lead-time only means that it was a 4-week project to begin with. Instead of stressing out and constantly working long hours, let it go. Think of it as a way to improve relations between programming and sales. Ever screamed foul because Sales has ignored the deadline to get copy in? Don’t try to beat them, join them! Deadline, schmeadline! The spot will hit the air, eventually. And think of the side benefits! The Traffic Department will begin to hold you in the same regard as Sales. After all, they have all the time in the world to add makegoods.
It is my sincerest wish that you and everyone else take these gifts and do what you would normally do with them. It all comes down to subtle improvements in a person’s life. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I have noticed that people tend to create these monstrous questions, these problems in their lives that are often self-induced. Every day may not be a living hell, but it could certainly be closer to heaven on earth if we’d treat others and ourselves a little better. So, do what you’d normally do and ignore my advice, and I think we’ll all have a happier New Year.