Q It Up: We’re going to have a little fun with this month’s question: Job related dreams. Do you have a recurring job related dream? The dream of the dreaded dead air is one of the more common amongst radio people. This editor’s most frequent is of being on the air, and one or two hours into the show, realizing that I have not played a single commercial that was on the log. Panic! There I am... with pen in one hand, and the commercial log in the other. Do I check them off and hope nobody notices? Or do I confess and face the consequences? Fortunately, I always wake up before I have to make that decision! What’s your recurring job dream? And if you’ve ever ventured an analysis of it, what was it? What does it mean in your real, waking world?
Brian Whitaker [BWhitaker[at]des moinesradiogroup.com], KSTZ/KAZR, Des Moines, Iowa: I haven’t been on the air in about 8 years, since going production fulltime. (At times I miss it, but I spend enough time in the studio, I don’t need 5 more hours on a Sunday night.) But I keep having this recurring dream about one or twice a year.
I’m on the air, during some obscure daypart, and everything that can go wrong, does go wrong. The computer locks up——DEAD AIR——I try to cue up a song, the CD player is broken——DEAD AIR——I try to reboot the computer, nothing—DEAD AIR——I try to call the Program Director, no answer. —MORE DEAD AIR——I look around the building. Everyone is gone. I’m sweating bullets. Do I dare crack the mic and explain what’s going on? My heart is racing. “I’m going to be in so much trouble when the boss finds out” —— DEAD AIR. I start to panic.....then I wake up. Now there’s no way I’ll ever do a shift again! I’ll just stay in my comfy little studio with a cup of coffee & I’m all good.
Mitchell, Ralph [RalphMitchell[at] clearchannel.com], Clear Channel, Mobile, Alabama: A dream??
I have a dream that one day down in Alabama with its vicious radio climate - with its enormous radio conglomerates having their press releases dripping with the words of corporate positioning and market share... one day down in Alabama little children with radios will be able to join hands with other little children with iPods - as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today! I have a dream that one day every format shall be exalted... and every sales person and every production guru shall become friends... and the crooked shall be made straight... and all flesh shall see it together! This is our hope. And with this faith, we will be able to hue out of the mountain of despair - a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our industry into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together... (well, it IS radio).
I spent too much time listening to MLK for my first paragraph of response, so now we’re out of time. So tune-in next time - same bat-time, same bat-station and maybe we’ll dream together.
Ron Tarrant [production1[at]tiessen media.com], The Range 106.1FM Airdrie & 95.3FM Cochrane, Airdrie, Alberta, Canada: Like most people in this crazy industry we call “Radio”, I was doing everything I could to get my head in the door at a station at a young age. While attending SAIT (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology) for broadcasting, I was able to pick up a weekend board oping job at CFAC Sports Radio in Calgary. A mere few weeks into class I had a reality check and heard the horror stories from my teachers about how tough this industry is. How many people want your job, the low pay, job security, the list goes on.
There’s a quote I would like to share with you my production teacher said to me one day that will stick with me for the rest of my life: “How bad do you want it?” It was a turning point in my life — a wakeup call if you will? This wasn’t just a 9-5 job, it was something I was going to have to work my arse off for. I haven’t looked back since.
I was so terrified of sleeping in on my Saturday and Sunday mornings, I would set 4 alarms each night. TV, cell, clock radio, laptop. Was I nuts? Probably. It’s just an oping job. But there were 20 other people in my class alone who wanted that gig. I would sleep maybe 3 hours a night, thinking about how intense the next day was going to be producing a Calgary Flames game or just picking up network feeds. There was no forgiveness for screwing up (in my eyes, and probably my PD’s).
I eventually got through a whole night’s sleep as time went on and became more familiar with how things worked, but even to this day, I wake up sweating and shaking thinking I had dead air as an announcer or uploaded the wrong spot I produced and aired the “bad outtake.” Anyone else get these? Cheers.
Charles Nove [charles[at]a1vox.com], A1 VOX Ltd., Sound Studios, Soho, London, United Kingdom: Mine’s a typical radio presenter anxiety dream. It’s one minute to air and I’m suddenly in an unfamiliar studio, with the walls stacked with material I’m supposed to play, but none of it is labeled. None of the channels on the mixer is labeled either. Interestingly, this dream has moved on with the changing technology. The wall racks used to be filled with unlabeled carts, but now it seems to be blank CDs and screens filled with nonsense.
My other anxiety one is about driving a double decker bus, but I’m driving from the upper deck and every time I turn the steering wheel it feels like the whole thing is about to topple over. That’s a control freak special, I think!
Steve Stone [sstone[at]zrgmail.com], Zimmer Radio, Joplin, Missouri: I don’t think I’ve had a recurring job-related dream, but I’ve had many strange dreams about work. Among the strangest was when I interviewed a group of Abe Lincoln sound-alike’s. I was in a very small studio with 20 or so Abe Lincolns. They all insisted on talking at once, which angered me to the point of yelling at them. One in particular wouldn’t leave my headphones alone.
Another weird one was when no one would listen to my tape. I’m not even sure what was on it, but I got laughed at by everyone I approached. Finally, with my tape clinched in my teeth, I attempted to enter a broadcast facility through an alley window. It was something like an episode of Cannon (showing my age) only no fat guy with a badge. I was chased away by a night jock with a bat.
I’m one of those guys who’s consumed by my work, so I dream about it a lot. One common element in these dreams is that I’m always frustrated about something.
Here comes an AE with that look on his face. PINCH ME!!!!
Alan White [alan.white[at]citcomm .com], Citadel Broadcasting, Colorado Springs, Colorado: You bet I do. It’s the dreaded dead air dream. It must be a weekend because there’s no one around. The studio is unfamiliar and no matter what I pot up, nothing seems to work. I’m picking my own music and I can’t figure out what to play next, and I have lots of dead air so I just play anything I can grab, of course it’s never anything familiar. This goes on for at least an hour on the air, and I can’t even crack the mic because nothing works on the board! I haven’t done an airshift in years, so maybe that’s telling me to keep my day job!
Gary Michaels [michaels[at]wkoa.com], WASK, WKOA, WKHY, WXXB, ESPN Radio, Lafayette, Indiana: My hasn’t our industry changed... and my recurring nightmare has with it. Yes, I awoke countless nights after the dreaded ‘dead air’ dream, but now they’re different and for obvious reasons. When I began here we had two stations... then three. Now we have five stations on premises and I’m networking all our other properties together to share voice and production talent... sixteen stations in all. My current recurring nightmare: I’m part of a giant impersonal corporation in a big high-rise in big city where I get lost between buildings... lost finding my office... finding friends gone and recognizing no one. These have replaced the ‘dead air’ dreams, but these new ones don’t really reflect reality as the company is actually a mighty fine one all told. The dreams continue though.
CJ Goodearl [cj[at]wjrr.com], Clear Channel, Orlando, Florida: My recurring dream (nightmare) involves clients who revise a spot 3-4 times regardless of copy approval before production. Only problem is, it’s reality! Somebody wake me up! I would rather deal with Freddy Krueger some days! VENT OFF. The real dream is the same one Jerry mentioned, the classic “dead air.”
And one latecomer from last month’s question regarding “Cheap Voice-overs”:
Shane Hurford [c913prod[at]c913 .com.au], c91.3, Campbelltown, Sydney, Australia: With voiceovers, generally speaking, you get what you pay for.... For the Most part in Oz, the great voiceovers are with an agency, and you will pay agency rate card prices, BUT it is worth the effort and extra cost? Most of the time, emailed voiceovers are a bit rip ‘n read... there’s nothing better than being able to direct the talent — yes you can direct over the phone but it’s not quite the same.
I guess dropping your pants on price to stay in the game is what you have to do if you’re not already a voiceover “name” and if you’re not with an agency. If you’re not a name with a reputation, keeping your rates high could be shooting yourself in the foot. There’s an available voice glut.