Larry McFarland (WHTT Buffalo), in the March '95 RAP brought to light a particular kind of client that carries its own form of Production Director abuse--strip joints. He posed the question of making decent production without being offensive--morally and politically correct.
First off, there are no morals involved, nor political correctness. We're talking about a strip joint. Women (and men) in various states of disrobe for other women (and men). This ranges the personal gamut from groin-achingly delightful to fire-and-brimstone obscene, depending on your particular religious belief. The overflow capacity of the parking lots are telltale evidence that a pretty good percentage of radio listeners find these establishments as morally and politically correct as it gets.
Let's address Larry's thoughts piece by piece. (Go re-read his letter first.)
1. Everybody's got bar spots. If there's a strip joint in your community, odds dictate it will be on the air for the "local dollars" side of the books as well. Smaller markets will likely have more of this kind of business, and they may have stronger community pressure against it, too.
2. Larry used the line about the girls wearing "...a bracelet and a smile." And, "...the Canadian ballet." That's funny! I really hope it's used in his copy somewhere!
3. Jocks don't want to cut the spots? Excuse me? Isn't doing production properly part of their job? When we hire a new full-time air talent, I ask them if they have any personal conditions they feel would be violated doing certain kinds of spots or promos. And during their tenure, I do my best not to impose anything on them that would make them uncomfortable. But, when the crunch is on, they do what they are assigned (as is stated in the written job description), or they and I will be in their Program Director's office in three seconds. They then are reminded of what their job sometimes requires.
Lest anyone think I'm some kind of thug, I'll add here that I do some pretty good spots for these clientele, and I'm an ordained minister. If anyone at the station is going to scream about these spots, it's going to be me first. Also interestingly, doing strip joint spots doesn't seem to faze the female talent. Go figure....
4. Why risk offending listeners for the sake of a few dollars? Never assume that, as a whole, your audience is that smart or concerned. One or two offended people do not matter in the big picture. Local dollars are the lifeblood of many stations. Even in a market our size (now #76 after the ARB was redistricted), local dollars are the bread and butter of the accounting department. Local dollars are what keeps you going when the ratings fail. Local dollars are always there when the regional/national stuff takes a hiatus. Local dollars are like a AAA membership. No matter how deep you're in the mud, they'll tow you out.
5. A prudish wimp? If we had a few more prudish wimps in the world, it would be a nicer place. No AIDS, no war, no drive-by shootings.... Don't knock prudishness, or bikinis. How we handle things.
Our local laws about strip joints can be summed up thusly: serve booze = lingerie, bikinis, but no nipples and pubic hair. No booze = anything goes.
My policy: do not mention porno magazines or films by name. Do not mention measurements.
We have six clubs in the greater Fort Myers area. One is a dry club, so there's full nudity. Three clubs are owned by the same company. Three are independent. The full-nudity club not only loves innuendo in his spots, but he's hung up on the phrase "buck-a** naked." Our primary competition will air whatever the client wants, verbatim. We do not cut his spots with that line, and when we get a dub with the line, I edit it out, all under the direct orders of my boss, the owner of our corporation.
Does the client complain? You bet. Does he still make the buy? You bet. They push their breakfast plates, lunch plates, and happy hour "all served by topless and bottomless waitresses." They have "the best eye-popping blondes, brunettes, and redheads" that "will lift your spirits and your jeans." Complaints from our audience: zero.
The three booze clubs with the same owner are different. The owner sends me his personally written copy that I'm free to use or modify. I'll use his pattern for the spot: clever opening line based on the club's name. Reminder that this club was voted the best in Southwest Florida four years in a row by newspaper readers. Name, discreet credits and show days and times of the featured act. Reminder of the other two clubs he owns. Reminder of one cover charge gets you in all three with a hand stamp. His closing line, "Why go anywhere else?"
The booze clubs have featured acts come through, each one with her (or his) particular shtick. We might build the opening line around it. We rarely mention booze or food. We throw in cute phrases like "...in the flesh...", ".-..uncovering the finest adult entertainment...", "...stripping the night down to the bare facts...", "...hormone pumping excitement...", "...letting the estrogen fly...", and on and on.
The bug in the ointment? Maybe twice a year, he wants to hear the names of the porno rags that his act has been in. We do it. He doesn't bother us about it for the next twenty-six weeks and pays his bill every month like clockwork. I personally cut one spot a month for him for each strip club and his "regular" nightclub. The rest are assigned out to air talent as part of their jobs. Keeps him happy. Keeps the salesman happy. Keeps me in a job for the next two weeks.
My comparison is a spot I heard while going through Columbia, South Carolina. A skin spot told people about the parking around back, "...so your wife and your boss and your girlfriend won't know where you're at..." Funny as a pink slip.
I frequently get my heinie chewed up for sticking to my guns on content and have had the owner and sales manager "visit" me with termination, but I have managed to help keep our two stations free of a lot of the muck that seems to find its way on the air. Bring on the business. Bring on the advertising. But, whenever possible, bring on some taste.
What do you mean bring it on in an hour?
Andrew Frame, Production Director
99X/WJBX-FM, Ft. Myers, FL
Regarding Larry McFarland's letter concerning the Canadian Ballet (strip clubs): In the first LMA that I was involved with, we produced and ran a spot for a place that featured "Moviemates." For those of you in Buffalo, that means you pay to watch a porno in a private room, with a nude girl. You, supposedly, can do anything you want to YOURSELF, but can't touch her. So much for the copy points. The spots ran. Is there a moral question here?
If it is a legal business (even barely legal--no pun intended), it has every right to buy advertising. I, for one, do not believe in legislating morality. Of course, that client would NEVER run on Magic 96.1. The oldies audience is not their clientele, especially here in Jesse Helms' back yard, but the AOR audience on our LMA could accept it.
I have more of a problem with the car dealers who now are all saying, "All credit applications will be accepted for approval." At least clubs, whether adult or otherwise, don't have to weasel through a disclaimer at the end of every spot.
Ron Harper, Production Director
WWMG-FM, Charlotte, NC