R.A.P.: From a business standpoint, acquiring a third or fourth station in a market is appealing because you can move the station into your current building and use existing staff to run the new station. Unfortunately, this means some people will get the axe, and that's a little scary.
Greg: When duopoly and triopoly first came along, quite honestly, I was terrified because the first thing I saw was that there were going to be a lot less jobs available, and that's true. That's very true. Take these stations I'm with for example. Before we took on Hot 105 there were two production people here, and there was a guy at Hot 105. We went from three to two and a half people. Yeah, there are going to be reductions. What I found though, is that the good people are going to survive. I mean, I've been doing this for a lot of years now, and I have absolutely no qualms whatsoever about my own career. The good people are not only going to survive, they're going to thrive. They're going to become more prominent, and they're going to stand out. What's going to happen is we are going to lose some people who maybe shouldn't have gotten into production. Now, that sounds terrible to say, but it's true. I know some good people are going to lose their jobs also, but I believe that's only going to be temporary.
One thing that companies are figuring out as they move more into duopoly is when you combine stations, there are places where you consolidate resources, and there are places where you don't. For example, we have a single Continuity Director at these three radio stations because one person can very easily handle that work for all three stations. This company understands that a single production guy cannot even think about touching these three puppies alone. The good companies are figuring that out, and that's pretty well becoming universal -- where you consolidate, where you don't, where you need your resources the most.
I see an evolution of the Production Director becoming more prominent in the radio station. The only thing that concerns me is that we are losing a lot of what I call the farm system, which is the smaller market, the smaller radio stations where you learn your craft, where you get that first shot at production whether you're still on the air, or it's your first off the air production job, and you basically come in rather rough and hone and polish your skills. I see those places going away, and that's very sad. And I do have to say, when I interviewed for the job that Mark Hoffman filled, I got probably 120 to 130 packages, and out of that, there were five "maybes." I think that's a really sad testament on our business.
R.A.P.: Do you blame that on all the satellite programming going into the smaller markets?
Greg: Yeah, I really do, because it's tough to go to a tiny market like a 5,000 person East Jesus, Wyoming and find some nineteen or twenty year old guy who's sitting in an archaic production room turning out masterpieces. It wasn't too many years ago where you had tons of guys like that. Now we're at the point where, if you want to find what I would call that up and coming talent, you've got to go to the medium markets. You've got to go to markets 50 to 100 to find those guys because the guys in those tiny markets who are really, really hot are becoming a rarity, and, yeah, I attribute that to satellite programming. I also kind of attribute it to people like me because we're not teaching. It sounds corny to say, but we're not passing it along. At least, I think we did more of it in the past.
That's one reason I'm really gratified by this publication called Radio And Production. I've gotten to the point where I can barely read most of the trades anymore because they're either TV intensive, or it's nothing more than an article stroking somebody. Well, hey, we haven't stroked this consultant for a while, let's do an article on him. Well, I'm sorry, I really don't care what any consultant has to think. I think we need more informational sources, more trade papers that are informational, maybe even our own bulletin board system. And I'm not just talking about Production Directors; I'm talking about radio as a whole. We need more "how to."
We've got to start sharing more information and more knowledge because, let's face it, we're all not going to be in this business forever. We're all looking at a day when we're going to say goodbye to the radio and go on to something else, and it's a shame to take that knowledge and take that experience with you and not hand it back to somebody before you leave.
R.A.P.: Let's say I'm a Production Director of a two station company that's getting ready to acquire a third station. I don't know what I'm getting into. What's the best advice you could give me going into it?
Greg: Number one, relax. Number two, anything you do from this point on is probably going to break all of your standard perceptions of how a production department should run, so keep your mind wide open. Look for innovation anywhere you can. Maybe take some of the things I said or that someone else has told you, but don't take them as gospel because every situation is different. Understand that you're going through a period of very heavy change. Don't underestimate it. Don't expect to just slide into it, and don't be afraid to make the changes. Then, have fun, because you can still do all the things that brought you to this business in the first place. You can still do some absolutely kick bottom pieces of work, and, in fact, you can do more of them now. And, to me, it's even better having the three stations because where else can you come to work in the same day and do three totally different pieces of work for three totally different formats? It really stretches your creative energy, and it really stretches your horizons. I think it's wonderful, and it looks great on your resume.