Q It Up: It’s time once again to get an update on how much work you’re doing for your station(s). What is your job title? What are your responsibilities? How many stations are involved? What market does your station(s) serve? How much help do you have in the production department, including interns and full and part-time help? How many hours do you work on a typical day? This information is helpful when negotiating salaries and raises, as you are able to compare what you do with others in similar situations and markets. Please feel free to add any other comments.
Rob Johnston [rob[at]edge.ca], Corus Radio, Toronto, Ontario, Canada: It took me some time to adjust as the Creative Director for Corus Radio Toronto as I moved up to that role from being a full fledged producer. It was sort of baptism-by-fire as I had to hire a producer and writer pretty much right off the bat — the producer to replace me, and a writer for one who was leaving to go back to school... fortunately it’s law school so that could come in handy down the road. Meanwhile, as this was happening, I was also planning my wedding! The first benefit I noticed in this role is I could cut down on my producing as I felt I was on the verge of suffering “creative burnout” in terms of simply producing spots.
Once I got the new lads hired and dealt with the wedding and honeymoon, it was really time to get down to business! As we stand now, we are a 3 station cluster (Alternative, Classic Rock, and Talk for Guys) with a very solid team of 4 writers, 5 producers (including myself and a part timer who is really doing a fantastic job), an assistant from the traffic department who helps our national creative coordinator track down creative, and a few free-lance types who help write/voice creatively too. I’ve also brought in a few interns who will really help us with all the small pieces of business, which always seem to get pushed to the side. Now this may seem big, but our cluster is the largest billing one in the company, in the country’s largest market. Considering we have a sales force of 35 people, there is plenty to do!
So where do my responsibilities lie? Well, as the Creative Director, my role is to lead and direct my team of 8, work with the sales teams to ensure that the clients’ needs are being met, and to work with the programming departments to ensure that our imaging and promotional work sounds brilliant on air. Simple eh? Toss into that mixture, I also maintain some producing, mainly for imaging on the Edge (Alternative), and some overflow on the client creative usually when we’re really busy or people are on vacation. Added to this I still produce some long-form programming, which I usually do at home so I can spend time there, and I try to assist with any creative questions that friends and associates from other stations across the country have. Needless to say, time can be quite tight as there are programming, creative, sales and management meetings that need to be addressed too. My day is usually an 8 to 6 sort of thing, but I also try to get out to as many concerts, movies and station events as possible as this really helps you stay focused on the listener and the product.
This role is really challenging and I find it quite unique in a station cluster, as you have to work with all the stations and all the departments that are involved in the operation. This means focus and planning is key — and something that I’m always trying to ensure that I’m doing well because it’s really easy to get behind on something! What I find is really special is that our creative team have really good relationships with our clients and can bring them the results they are looking for which means lots of return business and less need for the sales associate to worry that the creative is going to work. They can move forward with the next account confident that the creative team will deliver. I’m extremely fortunate to have a creative team that is really clicking now, and that has taken the stress levels down and allowed me to focus more with programming so we can continually evolve the sound of the stations and hopefully stay ahead of the pack.
In my mind, being a Creative Director now is less about doing hands-on producing/writing, but building a team that you can lead and teach based on the experience that you’ve gained in the past. It’s also about building solid relationships with all the departments and stations you’re involved with and getting to know your clients’ needs better — getting out there and meeting them and selling your creative team and how they will help the client achieve their goals. We’re very fortunate to be in Toronto where many head offices for the clients we deal with are. This means we have established great relationships with many agencies and record labels, which is really both sides of the business we do. They can come to me directly with any questions, concerns, etc., and I’ll help them out thereby not tying up the sales reps or writers time.
Now, who wants to be a Creative Director? :-)
Pete Jensen [petej[at]kxly.com], KXLY Broadcast Group, Spokane, Washington: Market #94. Seven radio stations and 1 TV station. Radio Production Director.
All the typical duties: producing spots for radio plus audio for TV as needed; assigning production to others; coordinating recording sessions with staff and clients; directing sessions and talent; archiving spots; training; attending sales meetings; writing some spots, editing others; troubleshooting; quality control.
There are two of us full-time, and we get help from some of the jocks and weekenders. My partner works 8 to 5, more or less, and fixes the problems that might crop up in the morning. He also does one weekend air shift. I work from 10 or 11 until the work is done, averaging about 9 more-or-less nonstop hours.
We duplicate our paper production orders with email, for tracking in case something misses. I just counted, and this week we processed 184 production orders, not counting TV stuff and other work we do regularly like recording network feeds. The week before it was 199, while my partner was on vacation, so it was a busy week. I think our record for one day is about 75 orders. Not all of that represents full-blown spots that have to be produced of course — dubs, end-date extensions and other tweaks, and prerecorded billboards are included, but still it’s plenty busy.
Richard Stroobant [bigdick[at]cjay92 .com], CJAY 92/VIBE 98.5/AM 1060 CKMX, Calgary, Alberta, Canada: We are a cluster of 3 stations, 2 FMs and an AM in Calgary, Canada’s 4th largest market (just under 1 million). In Canada, one company can only have 2 AMs and 2 FMs in any one market. There are 14 FMs and 7 AMs in our market, but 3 major chains own the 6 major FMs and 4 AMs.
Radio is not as saturated as it is in the states, because of Canada’s size. We do get some rural stations feeding into our market, but the nearest semi-major city is 90 miles away, and nearest major city is 180 miles away.
As for workload, we have 2 full-time producers doing ALL the imaging and commercials for all 3 stations. A morning show producer works about 3-4 hours a day, and a part-time night producer works 2-3 nights a week dubbing spots and other minor production.
Hours on a typical day vary, but I try to get everything done between 8:30 and 5. There’s always enough work to stay later but you have to have a life outside of the radio station, right??? There are occasions when extra time is needed or working on weekends, but that tends to be the exception rather than the norm.
Phat Matt [PhatMatt[at]Clearchannel .com], Clear Channel Creative Services, Bakersfield, California: My official job title is Creative Services Director. My actual duties are a live night show on KRAB (okay, I occasionally cheat and track the last hour), imaging the 6 Clear Channel Bakersfield radio stations, and a few other Clear Channel stations outside of the market. I also help our C.C. TV stations in town with some audio production.
Our ENTIRE production department in Bakersfield (market 86) consists of 2 full-time “commercial prod” guys (Prod Director/copywriter and Prod Assistant), me for the imaging, about 7 full-time jocks, and a handful of part-timers to load in syndication/weekend shows and barter dubs. With Clear Channel, when those days come when you need that extra bit of help, we can instantly access a whole company full of amazing voices, feedback, ANYTHING, in minutes via a website and forum on our corporate network.
The cool thing in our building is that everyone is multi-tasking and using our Prophet technology to get the job done efficiently. Examples: while I image between 10 and midnight, I’m also acting as “PIB” and keeping an eye on NexGen and LoveLine. (We can pull up every station’s control room in EVERY studio). While our overnight gal on KKXX is on the air, she utilizes the technology to produce the cluster’s 10-second barter spots between her live breaks.
Average day: 10 hours. Sometimes more. Sometimes less.
Marty Miller [martymail[at]ocean free.net], Spin 1038 Dublin, Ireland: Production Director and Mid Morning Jock. Here at Spin we have 2 production guys. I divide up my day working from 2 bases! For the AM I’m in the station on air live, not voiced!!! Then I work for the afternoon from my own studio, producing Spin’s imaging and promos. I also voice another station in another part of Ireland, so I can hook up with them for sessions when they need me! James Davids is Spin’s full-time commercial producer. He concentrates on all the in-house spots the reps sell, using the stations production studio.
For me, this set up is what I’ve been working towards for a few years. Creatively it works on so many levels. I’m not rushing out of the on air studio and straight into production for a few more hours. I get home and do things in a way that suits me. I’m not kicking my other production guy out so I can get in to do my stuff. It’s good to work away on sessions without disturbance. Hours spent working completely depends on what’s going on. Sometimes I’ll work as many hours as I can (as in LOTS!!!) or need to; other days I might just work my airshift and thats it. :) So far it’s been great. I’m in constant communication with the station while not in the building, so I still know what’s going on! Big Brother Marty is watching!
Cooper Fox [cooper[at]conwaymagic .com]: I am the Program Director for HAC Magic104 (WVMJ-FM, Conway NH). With the brightest variety of today and yesterday we serve the Mount Washington Valley and also dip into the Portland (Maine) market. Besides the morning show and maintaining the on-air product of the station, I also do imaging and my share of commercial production. We have an excellent voice guy (Mark McKay) with a quick turnaround. We also have two imaging packages (Continuous Climax and Clip Art) that make the imaging side of my job so much easier. With our current staffing situation everyone pitches in to cut spots and promos — I literally mean everyone from the GM and GSM, to sales, to traffic, etc. Honestly, the length of my workday varies greatly depending on what there is for commercial production. On a productionless day I may cut a couple sweepers and create a promo before heading for the door after 6 hours, on a heavy day I may stick around for 9 or 10 hours to get stuff done. The long days don’t really bother me, though, because I love my job.
Todd Manley [TManley[at]tribune .com]: I’m the Production Director, and as of three years ago the Assistant Program Director, too. I’m the imaging person, which means I write, produce and act as secondary vox on all our promos, rejoins, show opens, etc. I also design the grids (traffic) for our promos (two per hour 24/7). The production on the Cubs Radio Network is my responsibility (jingle production/transition elements/special features/etc.).
On the commercial side I oversee the overall direction of the department, but we have a commercial Production Manager who does the bulk of the vox work and assigns spots daily to a part-time spot producer/voice talent (this person rotates to make sure we have variety in the stop sets). The writing is handled by the Continuity Director who works in the sales department.
On the programming side, a combination of part-time hosts/producers report to me — this is mainly a mentoring role based upon the direction of the PD. The Program Director relies on me to scout hosts in this role. As APD, I am part of the marketing team (GM, GSM, Marketing Director, Program Director). The only intern that reports to me is the person who produces our Radio 720 Revue Show (a two-hour weekly highlight reel that I host on the weekends).
I am blessed with people I think are the best managers in the biz. They give me autonomy and direct me with broad brush strokes.