by Dennis Daniel
My mind is reeling! (No pun intended.) I have so many things I want to talk about this month, but no clear cut way of getting it all down so that the column, as a whole, makes some kind of universal sense. Let's take it subject matter by subject matter.
#1 - THE FAX MACHINE: Whenever I can, I try to appreciate the tools that technology has placed in my hands that I didn't have, say, five or six years ago. One of the biggies is the fax machine. Thank God for the fax machine! (It didn't take long to take that one for granted, huh?) I can remember, with much pain, the pre-fax days of yore. For example, we have this agency that is always giving us pre-produced jingles with donut copy for insertion. The bitch of it is, the client is a ski warehouse that carries all kinds of unpronounceable name brands! In the old days, the agency would call me up and read the donut copy over the phone. I would then type it out as they read. (And we are talking five to ten donut insertions at about fifteen seconds apiece!) I would then have to read them all back. This process took at least a half an hour, sometimes more! It was a big pain in the butt, not to mention the fact that you never knew when this agency was going to call you. (Murphy's Law -it usually happened when I was cranking with work.) In essence, the fax machine has saved me hundreds of hours! Whenever any client has copy to send (be they full written commercials or facts for me to use), I have it in a nanosecond! So, whenever I feel depressed or downtrodden, I always look over at the fax machine, and my heart soars like a hawk. I kiss it tenderly saying "Thank you, thank you, thank you. I'm glad you exist! Bless the genius who invented you, my dear."
#2 - OFFICE GOSSIP: Lately, it's been rampant at my place of business. Who's doing what to who. Who hates who. Who said what to who, when. I've been told by many a friend that this kind of thing goes on everywhere. Does it? I tell ya, at times it adds a lot of zing to your day. Other times, it's the last thing I want to hear or deal with. The truth is, we're all human, and we all get off on a little juicy gossip once and a while. My favorite kind of gossip has to do with other radio stations in the market. If you know a lot of people, it's real neat to find out who's been fired, promoted, warned, hired, whatever. Gossip about people in the office is not as much fun. I'm thirty-two. I guess I've outgrown my burning desire to know every little tidbit of juice that's floating around. I'm too concerned with day to day matters like, "How am I going to pay that bill? What will my wife yell at me about now? Is the baby still sick?" Besides, gossip can be distracting. You start to look at people in a different way. Many times, it's none of your business! Have you ever heard rumors about one person sleeping with another and when you see them in the hall you can't stop thinking about what they must be like together in bed? The day before you heard the gossip, the thought never entered your mind! NOW...IT'S A FREAKING VISUAL!
Have you ever been thrust in the middle? I don't know what it is about us Production Directors, but, sometimes, our studios can be the safe havens for a lot of venting. It's private. It's basically soundproof. It's off the beaten trail. We're creative, romantic types. Our position just screams for someone to come into the studio and tell us something! I'll never forget the time when a fellow employee (a beautiful woman, who I lusted after in my heart) came in to the studio to tell me how much she needed to find a real man who could do the nasty with her and make her yelp! I will never forget that conversation. I couldn't walk for half an hour afterward, let alone cut any spots.
#3 - NEGATIVE ATTITUDES FROM CO-WORKERS: I like my job. In fact, I LOVE my job. If there's one thing I can't stand hearing, it's other people I work with directly, BITCHING. It makes me want to scream "IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT HERE, QUIT YOU IDIOT!" But, I know what the answer will be: "I can't quit. I don't have another job lined up. I don't have time to find one. Blah, blah, blah." Bulldinky! Working for a radio station is a choice. No one forces anyone. It doesn't take a brainiac to know that it's a long hard climb up. It took me ten years to achieve the kind of success I feel I've had. When I see someone who's only been at it for two years complaining to me about salary, or even worse, how much I'M making, my head wants to explode! Especially if I helped this person get a job to begin with. What happens is, they look at you and your success and think it was easy. They feel it's their birthright or something. They see you now...not ten years ago. And these days, no one wants to hear the "I used to walk twenty miles in the snow every day to my part-time job dubbing tapes." It reeks of ungratefulness to me. Call me an idiot, but I'm still grateful for (and still talk to) the person who got me started in the business. I know that this person just opened up a door for me and that I had to do all the rest but, I still appreciate it. I've had two assistants that started off, guns blazing, then slowly petered out, all in a two year period. They both eventually left me, went elsewhere, and have since been fired. Why? More than likely, an attitude problem. And who did they come to after they were fired? Uh huh.
Boy, I sound like a bitter old man. I guess it's just a character trait of mine to be thankful for what I have and to work hard to achieve more. It has served me well. When I see others making what I believe to be major mistakes in attitude and judgment, it hurts. No one likes anyone who says "I told you so" or "I know it all." In a nutshell, you have to learn how to play the game, be patient, and work hard. Nothing will fall in your lap, and if it does, consider it a gift and go on from there.
Well, was this the column from hell or what? If you stuck with me through it all, thanks. I needed to vent.