letters-logo-oct95Dear RAP,

I finally got around to reading the September issue of RAP. The first thing I saw was the headline for the cover story: “Production People Are From Mars, Salespeople Are From Uranus.” Whoah! Is Mr. Coskun really making money with speaking engagements on this subject? If the position of Creative Director of Sales is available in my market, I want this position. Does Yaman wear a referee’s uniform to the office? I thought Clear Channel’s new mantra was “Less is More”? How does this exist in today’s cost cutting radio environment? Either there are severe personnel issues at his stations in DC, or he’s got pictures of the Clear Channel market manager getting a little too friendly with the sales assistant at last year’s holiday party!  (“Yeah-Mon!”) From now on, I think we should all address Mr. Coskun as the “Dr. Phil” of radio. How nice his fantasy radio world is. Please allow me to provide a little reality check.

Stop blaming the greedy salespeople for forcing you to produce substandard commercials. Blame the GM. If the GM sets the rules that govern the interaction between Production and Sales, and sticks to those edicts, there are few problems. In order to manage this conflict, you have to first get a grasp of the root of the issue. To understand the balance of power between radio sellers and radio creatives, one needs to look no further than the latest Arbitron. The higher a station’s ratings, the more balanced the relationship between sales and production. A highly rated station sells out easily. Advertisers generally know that they have to be on the “good” stations. Making budgets generally becomes a function of rate with sales management.

These “good” stations regularly turn down business because they have other potential clients trying to buy the time at higher rates, the creative drives away listeners, or, the cost of taking the business is too high. Also, the number of commercials produced in-house is far lower on a “good” station than on a ‘bad” one. Sellers at top rated stations, therefore, have relatively little interaction with production, particularly in today’s radio world where many commercials are delivered to the station via an on-line service.

Now let’s talk about the “bad” or low rated stations. They have bad ratings, and thus struggle for agency and national business. Therefore, they have to try to make things happen with local and direct (no agency) business. This is where the great production guys like those of you reading this mag make a difference. A lot more emphasis on local/direct business means a heavier dependence on the output of quality in-house production, more interaction between production and sales, and more conflict... Yeah-Mon! The unfortunate Bottom Line: GM’s at top performing stations will support Programming and Production far more than GM’s at lesser performing stations will, where most sales orders that pass credit will be accepted regardless of production guidelines.

Creative types and Sellers (who are also creative in their own way), need to take note of the type of station(s) they work with. Evaluate the dynamic between sales and programming. Live with it or move on. You cannot change the dynamic, only the GM can, and he’s not going to favor production over sales if he’s struggling to make budgets.

Mr. Coskun, please keep me apprised of your conversation with the Clear Channel market manager in DC.

Doug Ferber [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]
Star Media Group
(and RAP’s only subscriber from that “other” planet!)


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