by Sterling Tarrant
Last month we had part one of the first ever Q It Up E-Mail Poll. It asked the question: To What extent are on-air people required to either write, voice, and/or produce spots? This prompted Dennis McAtee, the Continuity and Production Director of KKOW AM/FM in Joplin, MO to respond: Here in the sub-200s, where most advertising is sold directly and produced in-house, the air staff voices most of the ads. And for as long as I can remember, I’ve been anal-retentive about DJs voicing ads in first person, yet I’m hearing it all the time, in markets of all sizes.
As director of continuity at KKOW, I have the liberty to rewrite most advertising copy to be voiced by our jocks, so that one of our morning guys isn’t saying, “We’ll make you a better deal at Eastside Chevrolet,” and fifteen minutes later saying, “Nobody beats our prices at Westside Ford.” That doesn’t do much for an air-staffer’s credibility. And when you have maybe ten voices and twenty car dealers on the air, most jocks will voice more than one car-dealer ad.
I’ve even heard “They” and “Them” become “We” and “Us” in the same thirty-second ad--obviously written by products of outcome-based education.
There are natural exceptions to a no-first-person-in-ad-copy rule, like station promos, ad copy that involves a station promotion, copy for advertisers voicing their own ads, and characters created by jocks for advertisers (preferably for a fee).
Thanks for letting me share this gripe with you. Don’t get me started on the word “located” in ad copy, or “for all your needs....”
Thanks for responding, Dennis. This month we continue with part two of the E-Mail poll with this question: How is the position of Production Director or Creative Services Director perceived at your station? Do you do mostly imaging? Do you provide marketing expertise for your sales staff? Do you do a little of both, have an airshift, recharge the fire extinguishers, and throw away Q-Tips loaded with ear wax that the overnight guy left on the counter top? I’m curious to see if the position of Production Director is evolving where it deals more with imaging, or if it’s maintaining a more traditional role of servicing clients. Here are the replies:
Dennis Coleman, Production Director for three (soon to be four) stations in Austin, TX: The position of Production Director here is perceived as a final destination for anything before it goes on the air. (Ain’t that always the case?) Anyhow, I do imaging for two of our three stations. (Number four comes on-line sometime in November.) We have a guy who comes in part-time to image our Mix station.
As far as spots, I do it all. If it has to be produced (even just voice over music), I do it. I’m also very involved with client positioning/marketing and handle all client voice/studio sessions. I work with promotions, attend program meetings, and act as general counsel or “wailing wall” whenever somebody needs someone to talk to, since my office is “conveniently” located between the sales offices and the programming department. And yes, I’m even in charge of throwing away the used Q-tips! (Ha Ha!)
Fred Cunha, CKNW/CFMI-FM and CFUN/CHQM-FM in Vancouver, BC: At both combos, the Production Director produces mostly sales accounts. The Assistants (5 at CKNW/CFMI-FM and 4 at CFUN/CHQM-FM) do sales and imaging, and the Creative Director coordinates the whole thing (at CKNW/CFMI-FM, she is above the Production Director, and at CFUN/CHQM-FM the Production Director is above the Creative Director). No production people do on-air shifts or have any cleaning duties....
Kevin Minatrea, Production Director of KLDE, Houston, TX: I handle both commercial production and station imaging. I set aside one day per week to devote my time exclusively to promos, image liners etc.... The rest of my time I split between writing copy, producing spots and promos, and making sure dubs get done properly. I do not have an air shift. However, I do fill in for our morning show when they’re on vacation or sick etc..
Jon Hogan, Creative Director, XS Radio Ltd, Palmerston North, New Zealand: Yep, we do most everything. PD writes most of his own promos, but sales (as opposed to programming) type promos are ours. The night guy and break guys write their own. Our night guy also works on imaging of one of the stations.
As far as marketing, well we have the broadcasting knowledge. Salespeople tend to tap our brains, take what they want, and impart that to the client. But bottom line is, we deal with the client and ultimately help them in the creative decision making...most times anyway.
Dan Culhane, Production Director, KEEY (country), KFAN (sports), KTCJ (classic country), Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN: My job is to hand out the production, voice (a few) spots, engineer client-voiced ads, and produce the imaging for all three stations. Thankfully, no on air work is required, except in emergencies. I do have the freedom to rewrite an ad when needed. The reps know they are not writers and welcome the input (or “outtake” to be more precise).
Pete Jensen, KXLY and others, Spokane, WA: Aside from voicing and producing, I assign all the day’s production. I fix mistakes when spots are missing or there’s some other sort of problem. I order supplies. I clean up the studio on Monday morning. I record/coach clients when they want to voice their own spots. I handle agencies when they want to use our studios. I try to coordinate the studios so everyone can get in and get their work done, and I record commercial feeds from the networks.
Ron Harper WWMG/Charlotte: First of all, I’m on the air 10a-noon. We have a voice guy for the imaging stuff, but I do all the contest promos, weekend promos, and some production with tracks from the voice guy. What I really love, though, is working with the clients. The sales staff takes me on calls. I attend a weekly sales meeting and write spots, get approval from the clients, produce, or assign them and follow up with sales and the client. We also have a New Business Development Marketing Department which works with vendors and their reps to put together what we used to call “Sales Promotions.”
It has taken me five years to get the sales dept. to trust me or want me to go on calls with them. Now I get with each new sales rep on their first day and give them my “Pamphlet.” It’s actually a position paper on advertising and production and how I’m going to work with them. It anticipates their needs, and I find now that I’ve become more in the loop with presentations they’re making.
That wraps it up for this first E-mail Poll. If you would like to participate in future polls, either e-mail me at