by Dennis Daniel
In these troubled times of corporate takeovers and downsizing, it's very easy for us "creative types" to get discouraged, disgruntled and downright scared outta our freakin' minds! Was it really that long ago when working at a radio station, doing a good job, and keeping your nose relatively clean meant a very good chance of steady, unquestioned employment for as long as ye shall live?
Remember working for one station? One owner? You know, the guy at the end of the hall? Remember when the station had a "team" spirit? A sense that we were all in this together? Remember when jock meetings were actually fun? Remember cutting a cool spot and getting so excited you couldn't wait to play it for the PD, the MD, even the girl who answers the phones? What happened?
It's as American as apple pie, folks. Good old 100% natural, no preservatives or additives, cholesterol free greed. (Rich guy or Corporation: "Wait a minute, FCC. You mean I can now own as many stations as I want? In the same market? In other markets too? I can be the Ted Turner of radio? I can consolidate? Wow! Who needs all those people! I'll have a Network GM, PD, etc.. More for me! MORE FOR MEEEEE!!!!!")
You see, greed has no morals. Greed has not conscience. "Greed is good." (Thank you Michael Douglas and Oliver Stone.) You wanna get whacked in the head? Check out Alec Baldwin's "pep talk" in the film Glengarry Glen Ross sometime! Talk about Greed! Talk about not giving a rat's ass about the individual! Don't let any of these suit and tie, Rolex wearing, cliche spouting, greased down crew cutted, earring wearing, Grim Reaper tattoo-on-their-butt main office types fool you into thinking they could care less about you or your family! This is how corporate America really thinks! Hooray for me...F you.
What do we know for sure about being creative? Well, for one thing, it requires attention paid to the "human element." Creative people need support and encouragement. I'm not suggesting they need to be coddled... just... uh..."understood." The creative monster must be fed properly in order to deliver the goods. And what are those goods? The best damn promos and commercials money can buy! The stuff that makes clients happy and makes money. Yeah. This is the way it should be, huh folks? Yeah. Fat chance.
Okay Dennis, enough with the complaining. It is what it is. How do we live with all this? I've got work to do!
Presenting the "Dennis Daniel Quick Survival Course For Production Directors In A Corporate Takeover Environment."
A new style of thinking is needed here. We must evolve with the times, become something new, something that knows how to survive. We must try to think...gulp...like them!
The usual thought pattern these bastards take is, "How can I save money? Is Joe Production worth what we're currently paying him? Couldn't I do just as well with some young flunky fresh out of college who isn't looking for much money?"
Nip that thinking in the bud pronto! If you think they're headed in that direction, gather together four or five of your favorite spots and/or promos on cassette, the ones you're really proud of. Make sure they're not just silly spots that don't sell. They've got to be powerful and unique. Next, write a brief letter to whomever is the new Grand Poobah and wax poetic (but keep it short) on how glad you are that change is evident and how much you look forward to the challenges ahead. Don't sound like you're begging or massaging their ego, jut a quick "hello, I exist." See if you can arrange a quick meeting to discuss your ideas on how to make the department run smoother, without costing them money! These ideas may be already in place, but they don't know that! If you get the meeting, bring the cassette and suggest, "Would you like to hear a couple of recent pieces?! Why? Because you want him/her to get to know you creatively. Let them hear some success stories. Let them know how many years you've been at it, that you know the demo, the community, the salespeople and their little quirks. THIS IS NOT KISSING UP! This is informing! You have to make your importance and your presence known. If you don't, no one else will! (If they don't give you the time of day regardless of your stabs at recognition, be afraid...be very afraid.)
Next, if possible, talk to clients who appreciate your work. See if they'd be so kind as to write you a letter stating so. Keep these letters on file. You can use them internally or, God forbid, if you have to search for another job. Always maintain a file that records your success.
Be prepared for anything. Get used to the idea that the workload may very well increase without compensation. DEAL WITH IT! Trust me, it isn't any better anywhere else. This is the deal, gang. Don't complain. Don't bitch. Don't gather at the water cooler letting off steam. NEVER ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE PERCEIVED AS A NEGATIVE! The reality of the world is, if you don't like what's being done to you, get out. Period. If you feel that way, don't discuss it. Go about looking for a new job quietly and if one hits, leave with dignity. You never know when your paths may cross again. If you have a chance to negotiate, don't seem like you're putting a gun to their head. They'll drop you flat!
It's time to toughen up. It will get harder before it gets easier. But, it can be done! Once you feel safe again, you can go back to what you were born to do...CREATE!