By Trent Rentsch
Just when you thought it was safe to start your summer goofing off, I’m about to spring a pop quiz on you. Don’t worry; it’s short, it’s an open book quiz, and it’s also multiple choice (don’t count on the answer always being “C,” however. I can only make this so easy). The correct answer is also painfully obvious. If it’s not, well, we’ll talk about that at the end of the period. Pencils up, paper over, here we go...
A production order lands on your desk, asking for The Beatles, “Do You Want to Know a Secret” as the background music. Do you:
A.Go dig through the library at the Oldies station,
B.Remind the Sales Rep that using unlicensed music is illegal,
C.Go have a screaming fit in the General Manager’s office.
The answer is, of course, B. Not only is this illegal, if your client is caught doing it, it could mean huge fines. That’s right... they will go after your station’s client first! I’ve heard some Producers justifying it because they’re “in a small market,” or that all that will happen is a cease and desist order if they are caught. Maybe... but maybe not. Every year the publishing companies seem to pick a handful of cases to take to court, and every year you hear of big fines handed down to advertisers who don’t follow the rules. Will your client be one of them? Maybe not, but I wouldn’t want to be the station that gets the call from the client who got hit with a 6 figure fine just because the station didn’t warn them about the rules. I suppose that a modified C is also a possible answer, if the Rep doesn’t seem to care. Not that I’d have a screaming fit, but I would warn the GM of the possible exposure.
You are asked to re-write a commercial script for the 7th time. Do you:
A.Wander back to your computer, change a few words, and hope for the best,
B.Suggest a personal meeting with the client,
C.Throw a hissy fit.
Ah, the answer is B. There comes a point where simply re-writing a script without face time with the client is futile. I’m not talking about small re-writes, such as a change in prices and/or loss leaders; I’m talking about the client who continues to ask for “something different.” Obviously, there is a breakdown in communication, and there needs to be some one-on-one time to clear up the gray areas, wherever they’re coming from. I personally won’t let it get to 7 re-writes before I’m asking to talk to the client; 3 is plenty for me. I make it clear that I’m not pointing fingers, but perhaps it would help me get it right for the client if I could talk to them for a few minutes. Even a brief phone call can clear up any misunderstanding, and even a short conversation can show the client that you’re on their side and really want to get it “right for them.” Plus, it’s simply good business for the station to have yet another member of the team make a positive connection with the client.
Your computer crashes, taking with it all your production files and folders. Do you:
A.Start all over again, building old sessions as best as you can remember,
B.As soon as the computer is working, reinstall your backup files,
C.Unleash the Dogs of Whine.
Well here’s a change; the answer is B. You do have backups, don’t you? As cheap as storage is, I’m amazed how many people still don’t. Whether it’s an external drive or DVDs, it’s a small investment of money and time to consistently back up your important files and keep them in a safe place in case of whatever disaster strikes. I know some people who use an external drive until it fills up, and then they put it in a safe place and buy another. Some folks really obsessed with backup do both a back up drive and DVDs. If that sounds like overkill, you’ve never lost all your files. And if you think you never will, you’re fooling yourself... someday, it will happen. And when it does, you’ll thank yourself for those few minutes a day you’ve spent backing up.
After working hard for a few years at the radio station, diligently running the production department and doing the right thing, you’re asked to the General Manager’s office and told that you’re being laid off. Do you:
A.Pack up your Addys and scramble to get a resume and demo together,
B.Pack up your Addys and send out the resume and demo packages you’ve assembled and kept current for a number of years to the decision-makers at other stations that you’ve been networking with,
C.Rip up your Addys and use them to dry your eyes.
This time, the answer is... B. As important as backing up your production data is, it’s nothing compared to having a backup plan for your career. It doesn’t matter how hard you work, how much everyone likes you at the station, how many of those Addys you have. Sometimes, without warning, you may find yourself looking for a new job. The time to prepare was yesterday; if you didn’t, start today. Keep your demo and resume current (or, start assembling them), and make contacts at other stations you might have interest in working for... and never get too comfortable.
There, as promised. Quick, painless, and the answer wasn’t always C. So, how’d you do? The good news is that it really doesn’t matter, this was only a test. If these situations ever intrude on your real life, I hope you’re prepared with the right answer. And if your answer is always C, I’d suggest a box of tissues... and some long thoughts about picking your battles.