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.
Johnny George [jg[at]johnnygeorge .com], Susquehanna, Indianapolis Indiana: I oversee our production dept, CSI: Creative Services Indianapolis as Creative Services Director. My Commercial Production Director, Bob Simpson takes care of all commercial production for our 3-station cluster of Country (95-5 WFMS), Oldies (Gold 104.5) and our ‘80s station (Retro 93-9). Additionally, we have a full-time Assistant Commercial Director, Steve O’Brien, who shares those responsibilities and also is one of our on-air fill-ins and images our ‘80s station. We cover the Central Indiana area from Indianapolis. Our signals cover more, but Arbitron recognizes the Indianapolis Metro only at this time.
My responsibilities include imaging our highly promotional country and oldies stations, plus spec spots for new business. Fortunately, even though I’m a department head, I’m not thrown into a ton of daily meetings that would take me away from the creative process more than my main creative meetings with my PDs.
We have two production assistants that handle a majority of the dubs. Basically, we have a 24 hour production schedule. Bob and I cover 9A-6P. Steve covers 11A- 8P. And our other assistants, Karyn and Rob cover 6P-2A and 11P-8A respectively. This way we have overlapping schedules when we’re most needed. Typical day is roughly 9 hours and more when needed. We are writing copy, producing, utilizing station personnel and limited outside talent.
Craig Jackman [craigj[at]canada.com]: As Production Supervisor, I do just that, supervise the production for the needs of the 5 stations in our cluster serving Ottawa and Smiths Falls Ontario. Including myself there are 5 full-time producers on staff with no part-time or interns. Our basic setup is one producer is assigned to the programming production needs of each station, though one staff producer is primarily responsible for 2 stations, and one gets an extra helping of commercial production. That being said, all producers are expected to take their share of commercial production. As far as hours go, I just had the one sided conversation with my wife that went “When are you coming home? Why are you coming home so late? Are you sure you want to come home? If you’re coming home that late don’t bother coming home!” With that in mind, I’m trying very hard to limit myself to 9 hours a day. It would be really easy for me to do 12 hour days everyday.
Terry Phillips [tphillips[at]cbs.com], 99.5 WYCD, Detroit, Michigan: What is your job title? Creative Services/Production Director. What are your responsibilities? (Yikes) Um, kinda everything — writing, producing, all commercial and promo material for WYCD and voicing frequent commercials/promos, making/emailing airchecks, occasional production for the group of stations, and computer geek for many. How many stations are involved? One What market does your station(s) serve? Detroit (Market #10 and falling, LOL). How much help do you have in the production department, including interns and full and part-time help? I have an insanely helpful Continuity Director (Dan Masucci)! Helping a ton by dubbing, writing, and producing spots, so it’s not all on my shoulders! He keeps me from going postal since our jocks don’t even produce their own daily promos and bits. We have zero interns and no part-time help. How many hours do you work on a typical day? Honestly 9-12 hours on average, not counting freelance.
I love my job and my station, and I think that’s the only way I could keep up! May we all trend up!
Ian Fish [Ian.Fish[at]chrysalis.com]: Wow, now there’s a question! My title? Head of Production. What I do? Well I look after all the audio for the programming side of the station - no commercial production - but I do make the audio to go with concert co-promotions plus all the Sponsorship and Promotions activity. S&P takes up most of my time at the moment, mainly because clients leave everything so late to approve and actually want a 30 second commercial rather than a 30 second trailer for the contest with a couple of credits, which is what they’re supposed to get!
I love doing the imaging for the station — always my favourite way to spend a day — and that’s my other main area of responsibility.
In addition to writing the scripts, making the audio and doing all my own paperwork, I’m also heavily involved in the station events/stunts and OB’s as my background is in concert lighting and live sound. And I’m self-taught in current Health & Safety law for the events industry. My background in live sound also means I’m the guy who gets to work with all the artists that come in to record live sessions. We’ve had some big names in and it’s great to be able to work so closely with the likes of Bare Naked Ladies, Vanessa Carlton, Tina Arena, Jennifer Paige etc., and the new artists who come in to do an acoustic version of their first single!
I have no interns and no assistants. It’s just me running the production department for the programming side, at the number 1 station in the market, and it’s a market with a potential audience of over 3 million adults! So we’re a big station.
But my day planning has improved a lot, and I’m not afraid to put the auto-reply on the email if I’m going to be busy in the studio. Amazing how many other people an S&P exec’ can find around the building to “...just burn off 5 copies of this promo” when they get an auto-reply saying I’m busy for the rest of the day — often tempting just to leave it on!
Most days I’m in at 9 and out by 5.30 and take about 30 minutes for lunch and work late when it’s needed. I found that by being strict with S&P execs on deadlines a couple of times, they soon get the idea what a deadline actually is when a couple of spots have to be re-scheduled.
I’ve left out all the other jobs I do that you never really think about - helping jocks set up their mic processing, hunting for good production tracks to use, all the meetings, archiving, music reporting, more meetings...
Dave Foxx [DaveFoxx[at]clearchannel .com], Z100 Radio, New York City: I generally resist responding to this kind of question because a lot of people would doubt things could be so good at a Clear Channel station, even in the number one market.
I have one station to image. Hal Knapp does all of the commercial production. Christian Sorge helps wherever he can on a part-time basis, plus we usually have at least one intern who acts as “dub-monkey.” We have a part-time sales assistant, Janine C, who tracks down promos, air checks and commercials with client mentions and burns them to CD for sales dissemination. The morning show has two producers of their own, Dave Brody and Skeery Jones, plus part-timer TJ. The three of them handle the bulk of material they do every day. That sounds like a lot of people, especially to some of you guys/gals who handle multiple stations in a cluster, but we all put in some pretty long hours. I had two 14-hour days last week. The morning show guys get in by 5am and seldom get out much before 3pm and actually do a lot of appearances.
Before people start sending their T&Rs, you should also know that we’ve had a very stable staff for a long, long time. We’re very proud of the people who work here. They are absolutely some of the best in the business.
Tim McKee [Tim.McKee[at]cox.com], KISS-FM/KSMG-FM, San Antonio, Texas: To begin with, we are in Market #30. I am the Production Director for two stations, an Active Rock station 99.5 KISS-FM, and an Adult Contemporary station 105.3 KSMG. My job responsibilities include copywriting, voicing and producing commercials as well as billing talent fees and commercial archiving. With Cox Radio, I am considered a Department Head, meaning I am salary exempt. A cool way to say you work until it’s done and you don’t get paid overtime.
For full-time production we have my assistant George Hamilton and myself. We are responsible for what we affectionately call “the box.” This is the in-box where the Account Executives put their production orders. Frustration will run high when one Account Executive puts an order in then an hour later another exec puts in the exact same order for their station. Why they can’t seem to communicate between sales teams is beyond me. I mean we are in the “communications” business aren’t we? But I digress.
George and I have three full-time air talents as well as one part-timer to help us with production. We usually assign simple voice-over-music spots and tags to them. George and I will do the more complicated production.
As for writing scripts, that usually falls into my lap, sometimes literally. George will help out writing concert spots and such.
As for interns, we work mostly with San Antonio College’s Radio, TV, and Film department. SAC is a junior college located in downtown San Antonio. They (the R.T.F. professors) usually send us students who are about to graduate. When an intern interviews with me I assure them that they will not be filing, but rather actually working in production, i.e. dubbing, tagging or producing spots. If we get an intern that is primarily interested in copywriting, I will see to it that copywriting is their primary assignment. I know that interns are taken advantage of a lot. I make sure they are working on their craft and not stuck filing invoices or being a gofer.
I guess the most frustrating challenge I have every week is from agencies. Who are these people nowadays! They expect a 15% agency discount and for what? They send us copy late, or not at all. Scripts are horribly written. Audio comes in wrong for this market, or the worst one, you write a killer script and they rip it to shreds. So why didn’t they write the damn script in the first place? Then of course there are the constant changes. You know of course that if these problems affected the Sales Managers the problems would stop. Should we complain, they only say “well, grin an bear it; after all, they are the clients.” AAAAAHHHH!
I love digital technology. It has made me a better producer and has helped me achieve levels of creativity I never though possible just 10 years ago. It’s also a curse. Account Execs know you can go in and just change this or that without too much problem. So, they wait until Friday at 4:45pm to make a change on a spot they knew about 2 days earlier. Of course they are out the door at 5:00 or 5:30 and you are stuck there till who knows when fixing this production. Remember, we don’t leave until it’s done! We are truly PRODUCTION GODS! No one else understands this.
Rob Garcia [rob[at]jrscreative.com]: Sometimes I feel I have the worst and the best job in the world. By day I am Program Director for 3 radio stations in Atlantic City (market # 138). I also handle the imaging for all 3, as well as music logs for 2 of the 3. I usually get in the office around 9am and leave between 6:30 to 8:00pm. When I get home I usually spend a couple hours producing for my freelance radio clients. Wheeww, Is it Saturday yet??
Part 2 next month!