R.A.P.: What are some of these "minimum expectations" you employ?
Greg: To get a commercial on the air -- one that we're going to write the copy for, voice, and produce -- we have a minimum of forty-eight hours. Now, notice I didn't say two days. Forty-eight hours means something that is handed to me at noon today on Wednesday will be ready for air at noon on Friday, not at six o'clock on Friday morning. If it's client supplied copy that we are simply going to produce, twenty-four hours. If it's a tape or a tape and a tag, that's noon the day before air.
R.A.P.: And how do you enforce these guidelines?
Greg: That's where your relationship with sales management becomes critical because I don't feel that it is my responsibility or even my place to be dictating policy to Account Executives. They don't work for me. They don't report to me. When I have a problem with someone violating policy, violating deadlines, that's something I take up with the Sales Manager. He in turn handles it as he sees fit. Keep in mind, there's a big difference between an Account Executive talking to me and talking to the guy who signs his commission check. There is a gigantic difference there.
Now, if you get into a situation where you've cried wolf too many times, your Sales Manager will believe you're just a whiny baby. That means when you go to the guy, number one, it had better be a legitimate problem; and number two, you'd better have all your facts in line because if you don't present your case correctly, the man is probably going to ignore you; and number three, it's a relationship you build over time where you show not only the sales management but, hopefully, you show the entire sales department that you're interested in the same thing they are. You're interested in making money, and the only way you're going to do that is to get listeners and to get advertisers. And, therefore, you want them to succeed just as badly as they want to succeed. However, you're not going to kill yourself in the process, and you certainly cannot sacrifice the radio stations in the process.
R.A.P.: There are always going to be exceptions. How do you handle situations where you're faced with the question of sticking to the rules and losing the dollar or breaking the rules to make the money?
Greg: That's a terrible choice to have to make, and I can definitely relate. We're reasonable; we understand there are exceptions. If the Sales Manager were to come to me this afternoon and say, "Greg, we just got this order. It just came down five minutes ago. It's got to go on the air tomorrow because it's for a special sale that runs this weekend. Can you help me?" The answer is yes. If we're talking about someone who made a mistake, that's different. If he comes in and says, "Greg, here's a piece of copy that's supposed to go on the air tomorrow, and, gee, the person responsible for this didn't bother getting it in time. It's been ready for three days, and he just now went and picked it up." I'm sorry, the answer's no. There's far too much to be done every day for us to try and clean up other people's mistakes.
Plus, I've also found in the stations I've been at that you get what I think is a real unfair situation where the people who do respect your guidelines usually end up being penalized because their work is constantly being shoved aside so you can take this last second emergency from the person who doesn't respect the guidelines. I don't think that's fair. And we have tried our literal best to solve that.
A lot of that has to do with communication and education. You have to start and maintain an attitude with the sales department of: "Look, when you come to me with an exception or with a question, I'm going to give you the best available answer. I'm going to give you the best my department can offer. It may not be what you want, but it's going to be the best. If I have to say no to what you have in your hand, I'm going to offer you some alternatives. If there are no alternatives, then I will tell you that." You've always got to have that communication. You cannot exist under an attitude where salespeople say, "Oh, God. I'm not gonna take anything down to Greg because he's just going to tell me no because he doesn't want to deal with it." If you ever get that kind of a perception started, you're sunk. And the only way, unfortunately, you get that perception started is by history.
Now, the other great thing about this situation is our General Manager, Bob Green. Keep in mind, Cox Broadcasting is a very product-oriented company. Yeah, we want to sell. Yeah, we want to make tons of money. Yeah, we want to break every sales quota every month. But we also understand that for that to happen, we've got to be putting a product on the air that is superior to anything anybody else is putting on the air. We're not going to go out and throw clients off the radio, but we're also not going to sacrifice the product of the radio station. That puts a stop to a lot of those last-minute things because the word that comes out of that is, "If you bring something in here at five o'clock this afternoon, it's not legitimate. That shouldn't have happened. That doesn't absolutely, positively have to go on tomorrow or the radio station collapses. It ain't going to happen." And there are those times when, unfortunately, you have to say no. The nice thing for me is knowing that the support exists, number one, in the Sales Manager's office and, number two, in the General Manager's office. They trust my judgment, and that's a proof situation. You can't expect that from the first day you walk into a radio station. I had to prove that they could trust my judgment when I came here.
R.A.P.: How many Program Directors are there?
Greg: We have three. I deal mainly with the PDs for WIOD and Hot 105, but I still interact with the PD from The Coast because I'm responsible for the technical sound of everything that goes on the air.
R.A.P.: Do you have any deadlines or "minimum expectations" when it comes to promos and sweepers?
Greg: Nothing that's really carved in stone. I do have to really take my hat off to all three of our PDs. They all understand what's involved in running a three station operation. Now, it was a little awkward for them at the very start because, as a PD in a single station, you're pretty much used to the fact that the Production Director is at your disposal. This is the guy who images your radio station, and he spends a great deal of his day concentrating on your radio station. It was a little awkward for these guys to get used to sharing me.
Originally, when I came here, I was reporting to just one of the PDs. That became a very unworkable system simply because, when you're reporting to a PD, you're naturally going to give his station a greater degree of your concentration, a greater degree of your work because this is the guy who is signing your time sheet. We've since changed that around, and I now report directly to the General Manager. The PDs are really excellent at keeping me informed with what's coming up over the next couple of weeks, and what elements they'll need. That allows me to schedule how those are going to get done.