Q It Up: How is the position of Production Director or Creative Services Director perceived at your station?

Q-It-Up-Logo-sep95by Sterling Tarrant

Last month we had part one of the first ever Q It Up E-Mail Poll.  It asked the question:  To What extent are on-air people required to either write, voice, and/or produce spots?  This prompted Dennis McAtee, the Continuity and Production Director of KKOW AM/FM in Joplin, MO to respond:  Here in the sub-200s, where most advertising is sold directly and produced in-house, the air staff voices most of the ads.  And for as long as I can remember, I’ve been anal-retentive about DJs voicing ads in first person, yet I’m hearing it all the time, in markets of all sizes.

As director of continuity at KKOW, I have the liberty to rewrite most advertising copy to be voiced by our jocks, so that one of our morning guys isn’t saying, “We’ll make you a better deal at Eastside Chevrolet,” and fifteen minutes later saying, “Nobody beats our prices at Westside Ford.”  That doesn’t do much for an air-staffer’s credibility.  And when you have maybe ten voices and twenty car dealers on the air, most jocks will voice more than one car-dealer ad. 

I’ve even heard “They” and “Them” become “We” and “Us” in the same thirty-second ad--obviously written by products of outcome-based education. 

There are natural exceptions to a no-first-person-in-ad-copy rule, like station promos, ad copy that involves a station promotion, copy for advertisers voicing their own ads, and characters created by jocks for advertisers (preferably for a fee).

Thanks for letting me share this gripe with you.  Don’t get me started on the word “located” in ad copy, or “for all your needs....”

Thanks for responding, Dennis.  This month we continue with part two of the E-Mail poll with this question:  How is the position of Production Director or Creative Services Director perceived at your station?  Do you do mostly imaging?  Do you provide marketing expertise for your sales staff?  Do you do a little of both, have an airshift, recharge the fire extinguishers, and throw away Q-Tips loaded with ear wax that the overnight guy left on the counter top?  I’m curious to see if the position of Production Director is evolving where it deals more with imaging, or if it’s maintaining a more traditional role of servicing clients.  Here are the replies:

Dennis Coleman, Production Director for three (soon to be four) stations in Austin, TX:  The position of Production Director here is perceived as a final destination for anything before it goes on the air.  (Ain’t that always the case?)  Anyhow, I do imaging for two of our three stations.  (Number four comes on-line sometime in November.)  We have a guy who comes in part-time to image our Mix station.

As far as spots, I do it all.  If it has to be produced (even just voice over music), I do it.  I’m also very involved with client positioning/marketing and handle all client voice/studio sessions.  I work with promotions, attend program meetings, and act as general counsel or “wailing wall” whenever somebody needs someone to talk to, since my office is “conveniently” located between the sales offices and the programming department.  And yes, I’m even in charge of throwing away the used Q-tips! (Ha Ha!)

Fred Cunha, CKNW/CFMI-FM and CFUN/CHQM-FM in Vancouver, BC:  At both combos, the Production Director produces mostly sales accounts.  The Assistants (5 at CKNW/CFMI-FM and 4 at CFUN/CHQM-FM) do sales and imaging, and the Creative Director coordinates the whole thing (at CKNW/CFMI-FM, she is above the Production Director, and at CFUN/CHQM-FM the Production Director is above the Creative Director).  No production people do on-air shifts or have any cleaning duties....

Kevin Minatrea, Production Director of KLDE, Houston, TX:  I handle both commercial production and station imaging.  I set aside one day per week to devote my time exclusively to promos, image liners etc....  The rest of my time I split between writing copy, producing spots and promos, and making sure dubs get done properly.  I do not have an air shift.  However, I do fill in for our morning show when they’re on vacation or sick etc..

Jon Hogan, Creative Director, XS Radio Ltd, Palmerston North, New Zealand:  Yep, we do most everything.  PD writes most of his own promos, but sales (as opposed to programming) type promos are ours.  The night guy and break guys write their own.  Our night guy also works on imaging of one of the stations.

As far as marketing, well we have the broadcasting knowledge.  Salespeople tend to tap our brains, take what they want, and impart that to the client.  But bottom line is, we deal with the client and ultimately help them in the creative decision making...most times anyway.

Dan Culhane, Production Director, KEEY (country), KFAN (sports), KTCJ (classic country), Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN:  My job is to hand out the production, voice (a few) spots, engineer client-voiced ads, and produce the imaging for all three stations.  Thankfully, no on air work is required, except in emergencies.  I do have the freedom to rewrite an ad when needed.  The reps know they are not writers and welcome the input (or “outtake” to be more precise).

Pete Jensen, KXLY and others, Spokane, WA:  Aside from voicing and producing, I assign all the day’s production.  I fix mistakes when spots are missing or there’s some other sort of problem.  I order supplies.  I clean up the studio on Monday morning.  I record/coach clients when they want to voice their own spots.  I handle agencies when they want to use our studios.  I try to coordinate the studios so everyone can get in and get their work done, and I record commercial feeds from the networks.

Ron Harper WWMG/CharlotteFirst of all, I’m on the air 10a-noon.  We have a voice guy for the imaging stuff, but I do all the contest promos, weekend promos, and some production with tracks from the voice guy.  What I really love, though, is working with the clients.  The sales staff takes me on calls. I attend a weekly sales meeting and write spots, get approval from the clients, produce, or assign them and follow up with sales and the client.  We also have a New Business Development Marketing Department which works with vendors and their reps to put together what we used to call “Sales Promotions.”

It has taken me five years to get the sales dept. to trust me or want me to go on calls with them.  Now I get with each new sales rep on their first day and give them my “Pamphlet.”  It’s actually a position paper on advertising and production and how I’m going to work with them.  It anticipates their needs, and I find now that I’ve become more in the loop with presentations they’re making.

 That wraps it up for this first E-mail Poll.  If you would like to participate in future polls, either e-mail me at qitup@aol.com or visit the RAP Web site at www.rapmag.com.  Become a member of the RAP Network, and we’ll be seeing you here in Q It Up.

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Given the usual resistance account reps face selling new ,local retail accounts, how did I manage to help generate business even though I was not a salesperson?

I may be one of the few on air radio personalities to have local retailers call the station and say "I would like to advertise on your station but only if Gene does my commercial!" Given the incredible difficulty of getting any new local retail business on the air that's just about impossible to do. So how did I do it and how can you? First, I was fairly entertaining – every day. I was always entertaining but rarely given the opportunity until I went to WRDR-FM. All the other "major market stations" were so concerned with "formats" that they were hardly, if ever, looking for clever talent. I would also like to relate how I survived radio, the greed of sales department management, and worse, the stupidity of program directors, of my incredible but true incident at KMOX-FM.

I had been hired by the PD, after being let go...

Given the usual resistance account reps face selling new ,local retail accounts, how did I manage to help generate business even though I was not a salesperson?

I may be one of the few on air radio personalities to have local retailers call the station and say "I would like to advertise on your station but only if Gene does my commercial!" Given the incredible difficulty of getting any new local retail business on the air that's just about impossible to do. So how did I do it and how can you? First, I was fairly entertaining – every day. I was always entertaining but rarely given the opportunity until I went to WRDR-FM. All the other "major market stations" were so concerned with "formats" that they were hardly, if ever, looking for clever talent. I would also like to relate how I survived radio, the greed of sales department management, and worse, the stupidity of program directors, of my incredible but true incident at KMOX-FM.

I had been hired by the PD, after being let go (because I would change my style and time slot) while at WLW, Cincinnati. I was to be the first live person on the air at KMOX-FM! Now the PD new "clever" was my style because that's what my tape told him. Anyway, I had been in St. Louis for about two months and received some nice comments from the GM when we landed a new local account, a school of fencing, you know the saber etc. I did the spot and ended it with, "you know the amazing thing about attending (blank's) school of fencing is that, just after two weeks, while you're not going to be an expert with the saber or whatever, you'll be a whiz at shish kabob" --hopefully chuckle-worth and certainly non offensive, right? Wrong!! The owner wrote a scathing letter to the station and I was call into the PD's office and told I was fired and replaced by a fella with a beautiful voice who did nothing original. It was the PD's job to stand up for me (fat chance). It turned out that KMOX-FM and CBS really wasn't sold on "live persons on the air" and soon went back to automation. So much for major markets.

Here's another example of terrible management. I was hired by the PD to be the production man at WSPD-AM in the early 80's. I landed the on-camera and voice over work for Burdine's Dept. Stores, a very big advertiser. Little did I realize that the guy that hired me had been trying, unsuccessfully to do that freelance for some time, so I'm sure my winning it didn't set to well with him, nor with this voiceover guy who was also on the air and did some Burdine's radio. The PD ran to the production studio one day and accused me of stealing "all my accounts." I had also just started doing Sunday mornings on the air too when he angrily summoned me to his office one Monday morning to listen to the skimmer of my Sunday morning air work. He played a recording of my talking with a listener/contestant, turned it off and said "it's clear you knew her!!" I denied that and he said, "well it sure sounded that way." I calmly answered, "I thought that was what I was supposed to sound like." He had no answer other than to take me off the air.

Despite these ridiculously unqualified program directors, I moved on to more of the same (in Philly for example and Washington, DC). Ok, so what happened at WRDR-FM? I found an audience that liked me and hit upon something wonderful! I romanced a new account that asked for me - The Ebbitt Room of the Virginia Hotel in Cape May, NJ. After about three months of being on my show, they decided to "measure the advertising by having me say, "When you stop in for dinner, tell them Gene Packard sent you." The response was so positive that even I was amazed. They even invited me to spend a weekend there with fine room, food and booze gratis!!

I went on to have a number of accounts that I endorsed, all with a very nice fee. I also sold the Hilton Hotel and Resort the idea of doing a live broadcast of a big band dance each month. That went on for eighteen months. Then there was the opera recital that I hosted and produced for the new station owners after they asked me to come up with something that would assure listeners that they were going to stay with the classy format we had on the air. I continued to do these on my own for over a year. The stations greedy management raped the format and my sponsors. The station tried to sell them on a ridiculously high priced sponsorship on my "Friday Night with Frank" show broadcast from Smithville Inn, Smithville, NJ.

My success was due simply to my originality and sincerity, qualities that few stations are interested in. For me radio was a love-hate relationship.

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Comment was last edited about 2 months ago by Jerry Vigil Jerry Vigil
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