Production 212: Here’s a Thought

Production-212-Logo-1by Dave Foxx

One of the goals I have in writing this column is to give you ideas. Not just ideas for the actual spots, promos and sweepers you produce, but ideas to enhance your job experience, to make you more valuable to your PD and GM, and to make your station the only place clients want to do business. To that end, I’d like to pass along an idea that I stumbled across a couple of years ago that has proven to be a real plus for our station in several ways and a major plus for me.

Many of you know that I do voiceover work for radio and TV stations all over the world. Several years ago, I did what a lot of voiceover people do and built an online method of delivery. I bought my own server and trained myself to upload my tracks with an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) client, making it fast and convenient for stations to download with just a browser like IE or Netscape. I can now offer turn-around times measured in minutes instead of days or hours. Once, I had my voice on the air in Missouri six minutes after I got an emergency phone call from a TV station about the Governor of that state going down in a plane crash.

As with most ideas, it was the convergence of two thoughts that lit the bulb over my head. Building a server was the first. The second was really a desire to make MY life easier.

Have you ever had a really hot piece of production you wanted to play for the PD, but he/she was simply unavailable? Since he’s a regional VP for the company, my PD is frequently tied up with meetings and conference calls when he is in the building. Often, he’s not even here. He’ll be across town at our classic rock station going over a recent perceptual study or down in San Antonio at our corporate headquarters for budget meetings, but I still need to have him hear my latest masterpiece. (This is where the light bulb flashes.) I simply upload an MP3 of the finished work and email him the address. WOW… what a concept! He always checks his email whenever he has a break and he can instantly check it out. I can move on to the next project and not worry about when he’s going to pop his head in my door for an update. He’ll listen, he’ll write a comment or suggestion and send it back immediately and neither one of us is waylaid by the other.

So now that I have this really COOL way to get business done, the idea just grows from there. Why not put spec spots, sponsored promos and other client related stuff on the server too? I just email the Account Executive with the address and he or she calls the client and tells them how they can hear their slice of Z100 without having to look up times on the log. When it’s a long-running promotion, the client can keep coming to the same web address for all the updates, as they are created. Plus, when it’s all said and done, I can download the MP3 files to one folder on my computer and burn a master CD that will be given to the client.

Now, unless you want to build your own server, or even have the station build a special server, there’s an even easier way to get all this done. Most stations have their own website. Simply have your web design people set up a “Clients” folder on the server and give you access via FTP. You’ll need to make sure there’s room on the server for this purpose, usually you can get away with 50 to 100Mb, which most sites can spare with ease. That way, clients (or your PD) would simply point their browser to a special address and access the file. For example, if I wanted to upload promos for an event sponsored by Toyota, they would get an address like www.Z100.com/Clients/Toyota/ (not a real address, thank you.) Likewise, I would send my PD a link to www.Z100.com/PD/Genius/ (not even close) and he would hear my latest creation when it was convenient for him, regardless of where he is at the time.

Another option is to lease web space. The GM probably wouldn’t kick and scream too much over $20 per month or less. Personally, I use Interland in Atlanta. (www.interland.net) They’re literally 50 feet from the backbone (something your web people know is very good) and offer all kinds of simple website solutions for very little money. You’d have to register a site name with Network Solutions too, which would run about $20 per year. (www.networksolutions.com) Either way, the overhead is minimal, while the benefits are monumental.

The software you need is either shareware (minimal cost) or even free. Personally, I use Fetch, a Mac only FTP client; a really easy program to use (drag and drop) that stores hundreds of addresses. There are similar programs for every flavor of Windows too.

My PD loves the fact that I’m not constantly badgering him to listen to something, although he still likes to come in and listen when he can. My station’s Account Executives love being able to call their clients and give them a simple address, saving them time too. I love the fact that I’m not always looking for an audience with someone who is constantly busy and can get on with the business of being creative. Wow! What a concept!

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