If you’re keeping track, last month, we asked the RAP Network about holiday production, and we postponed “Part II” of the responses to the November question until this month. So don’t feel like you’ve picked up the wrong issue of RAP if the question below sounds familiar. Following is the second half of the responses we received to the November Q It Up question.
Q It Up: How many stations does your production department work for? How many full-time people are handling this production, and how many part-time people (if any, including jocks) also help? Do you feel your department is staffed adequately for the workload? If not, how many more people do you feel you need on staff? Please add any comments you may have.
Craig Rogers <crogers[at]jacor.com> Production Director, WHO/KMXD/KYSY, Des Moines: We have three stations in the group: WHO-news/talk, KMXD-Hot A/C, and KYSY-gold based soft A/C. WHO requires the most commercial work by far, but a good portion of it is dubs from agencies, national and network make-goods. These are handled by board ops before/after their shift. We have two studios, one of which is unavailable until noon each day as it doubles as the KYSY air studio. A third studio (on another floor at the opposite end of the building, but a studio nonetheless) is in the works.
I’m the only full-timer devoted to just production, except I’m also the operations supervisor for our statewide news/ag network. Most of my production is commercials, although I’ll get a few last minute promos to produce. Most imaging for the A/Cs is handled from Jacor in Cincy. The WHO PD does most of the WHO imaging. We have a copywriter, so I don’t spend any significant time writing copy. Our copywriter also serves as our sales research director.
I assign most of the “routine” production (straight vox, vox over msx, dubs, tags, etc.) to board ops and part-time evening talent. There are about 14 people in that pool, five working on any given day. WHO personalities only do endorsements so they are out of the loop for regular voice work. That leaves five KMXD talents, two KYSY talents, and me for voice work. Jocks might see one script a day or three if things are heavy. I may voice none to eight a day. I use a LOT of office staff, especially for multi-voice spots. The operations supervisor and Promotions Director for WHO are both former air talent that I call on frequently, not the least reason is because they are females. With two A/C stations, we have a lot of need for female talent, but a small pool to draw from.
I feel we are at an “adequate” staffing level. When one person from the “production pool” goes on vacation, everyone else feels the extra load. I would love to have a part-timer dedicated to evenings to pick up some of the routine chores such as dubs, backing up the Audicy hard drive, checking on network re-feeds, late DG spots, deleting expired spots from AudioVault, etc.. Such an individual would save having to explain the same procedure to five different people on five different evenings. Someone fairly self-directed, focused on production, and who could put in two or three hours in the evening would take a lot of pressure off our overcrowded studios during business hours. And if this person was female, all the better for voice work!
A large contributing factor to things running smoothly is that our sales department (for the most part) is quite good about the 2pm daily deadline. Our traffic department is also fairly accommodating for the last minute items, within reason. This helps immensely for spreading out the load. I can get materials to the afternoon jocks/ops and not overload the evening/overnight staff. Material that starts later than tomorrow goes to morning board ops.
Some things that help me run the department more smoothly include a database for assignments so I can look up who got what, when it was due, and to ensure the load is distributed equitably. Another is my cell phone so I can be reached anywhere in or out of the building. We also have a dub station, essentially a studio without walls in the engineering area, that can be used for dubs. Salespeople can operate this themselves to playback spots for clients. This helps ease the pressure on prod people and the regular studios.
Mark Fraser <ccca[at]dbis.ns.ca> Metro Radio Group, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada: Back in the late spring when we put 5 stations under one roof here in Halifax, I actually did an informal survey on this very topic. It wasn’t much help in that no 2 systems seemed to be the least bit similar. The main insight I was able to get was that with more stations, the production workload per station may not necessarily decrease, but there may be more bodies to pitch in and help out.
At the Metro Radio Group, we have 3 FM stations, 2 AM stations. We handle production with 4 full-time producers and 1 part-time assistant. NO JOCKS. We feel that to maintain consistent sound and quality, the fewer “part-time, pitch-in-here-and-there-helpers” the better. We’ve stretched out the work week so that one producer works Tuesday to Saturday, and because we only have 2 full blown production rooms and have recently added a 3rd room with more limited functionality, we need to have both daytime and nighttime production shifts. So far it seems to be working as far as the workload goes, but with most of the account execs and programming personnel needing dubs, questions answered, meetings, etc., during the 9 to 5 business day, more of the actual creative production seems to get done in the evenings.
I believe that management would like to eliminate the production assistant position, but with the goal of the 5 station amalgamation to increase business, this would lead to an increased production workload, so of course we in production would prefer to have a full-time assistant.
It’s still a work-in-progress here, and we’ve yet to get everything running hot-hot-non-stop-wham-bam-smooth. But I think we’ve got a great group of people and some real creative minds working here, so things will continue to get better and better. The nicest part of the multiple-station thing is that after years of cutbacks and layoffs, we’ve finally got an infusion of new-to-us talent to work with.
Osborne[at]aol.com: At Emmis Broadcasting in Indianapolis (WNAP, WIBC, WENS, WTLC AM/FM), production issues are still handled at a station by station basis—largely, I think because all the properties are not under one roof, which will happen later in the year. Each station has one Production Director (with the exception of WTLC AM/FM, and they have one for both). At WNAO, we utilize our air staff, a total of 5 people, with the overnight person concentrating on mainly dubs and tags, and the rest of the staff doing copy work. I think sometimes the problem as production people, when the question arises about enough staff or are we overworked, is that we forget, as well as our peers at the station, about the word at the end of production “director” and what that should mean. Fortunately, I have a Program Director that expects me to direct the production utilizing the airstaff, which understands when hired that production is a major part of the job. Therefore, a staff of six people producing commercials is rather healthy for one radio station. This allows me to concentrate on the “fun” part of my job, which is promos, sweepers, and liners for the station. This whole business about consolidation can be scary, but I also believe we are sometimes caught in an “its another day of no respect” mentality. Sometimes we get what we expect. If we expect to get no help in our department, then guess what?
Dennis Coleman <denman[at] swbell.net> Production Director, CBS Austin, Austin, TX: Well, down here in Austin, we’re one of the handful of group owners. I think everybody else in town is having the same struggles we are. At any rate, we have two full-time production people (myself and an assistant) and about six jocks I can really count on for getting stuff done. They mostly help out with dubs, tags, and voice over music scripts. We have four stations, with two studios, and I could sure use a full-time imaging guy for two of the stations. I could also use another part-time commercial producer so I could get caught up with departmental stuff. (Unfortunately, we’re in a hiring freeze TFN.) Right now, I’d guess you’d say we’re understaffed by at least one full-time person. (We recently added a Non Traditional Revenue Department in addition to the 30+ salespeople.)
Dean Tyler <Deansvoice[at] aol.com>, Production Director, WCKT/WQNU, Ft. Myers, FL: For us, the biggest problem is having only one production studio to work out of. All full production, dubs, imaging, client cassettes, spec tapes, etc. have to be done there. I have a studio schedule posted, but this is radio, so it’s a basic guideline to get people in and out of there in segments. Everyday is an on-going give and take to get things done on time and give them a priority. I oversee the department and have several full-time jocks and a few part-timers that are involved. We also own three other stations in the market that are located across town, and although they have their own production department, we find ourselves providing them with dubs and occasional full production. I’ve got the staff and equipment; I just need another studio. Till then, I feel like a traffic controller who’s landed a thousand planes a day without any SERIOUS accidents! After keeping up with an incredible pace for the last two years, I now have a new respect for my fellow Production Directors and down the road look forward to returning to the less hectic world of morning radio and a possible full-time VO career.
Kevin Charles <minatrea[at] aol.com>, KLDE-FM, Houston, TX: At Oldies 94.5, KLDE in Houston I am the one and only full-time production guy. I handle both the commercial production and station imaging. I am handling the work for only one station at this time. I have 2 part-time guys to help with dubs in the afternoons, 4 days a week. I do it all by myself on Mondays. Tuesday I bring in a part-timer in the morning and another in the afternoon, giving me the entire day to focus on station imaging and promos. This system works pretty well, but I would never turn down the opportunity to add more hours to the part-timers. It is often difficult to shift gears from thinking commercials to imaging in an instant. I often feel that I am not giving 100% to either sales or programming because I feel myself being pulled in different directions. It’s as if there isn’t quite enough of me to go around. The jocks are not doing anything more than an occasional voice job for me. It helps with the quality of production on the air when we keep fewer hands on the final product.
Kurt “boomer” Schenk <Pook Produk[at]aol.com> Jacor Rochester, NY: For 7 signals we have: 3 full-time Production Directors (including myself), 1 full-time producer who floats between the talk and a/c formats (and with all the sports programming, that helps), 1 part-time producer, 4 dub guys, and just one jock, for the modern rock format.
Remember when you had one Production Director and all the jocks did production? Well, jocks in our situation don’t do production because they’re not fast, clean, and they generally cannot make a well-marketed ad. Hell, that’s not their job anyway. They need to voice track their show then do programming duties; that’s it. And it makes perfect sense to me. The fact one jock does production is indicative of the fact that JACOR has automated formats for the bigger markets. Hence you’ll need less jocks. With our “Prophet” digital system, we could, and I’m sure will, get leaner. And to me, that makes sense. If you can produce good production at a fast pace, then today’s radio is for you. If not, then get out of the kitchen. I like the structure right now; it works.
Donnie Marion <donniem[at] 104krbe.com>, KRBE-FM, Houston, TX: We (Susquehanna Radio) currently have only one radio station in the Houston market, 104 KRBE. We have a Creative Services Director and a commercial Production Director. The CSD is pretty much the lone ranger, work-wise; he does it all himself. I’m able to use the services of 2 or 3 members of the air staff for dubs, and I rely upon them heavily.
Pat White <PWHITEPROD [at]aol.com>, Production Director, WIL/WRTH, St. Louis, MO: As Production Director, I am responsible for 99% of all direct copy writing. I also
produce all in-house commercials and voice a good number of them. The air talent come in to see me either before or after their shift to voice spots, promos, and tags which I will produce throughout the rest of the day. (In other words, they just do an air shift without any other production duties other than voicing). I do have one production assistant (a recent broadcast school graduate) who stops by nightly to take care of the straight dubs and other special features that require transferring from DGS, DCI, CD, DAT or tape to our DCS storage hard drive. (Of course, I do dubs too when they have to go on that day.)
I am also responsible for the audio imaging on both stations. Fortunately, the writing of those promos and sweepers is taken care of by each stations PD, but imaging still takes a huge chunk out of my week, especially with WIL the #1 music station in the market and the #2 station 12+. In addition, the sales force relies on me to call and approve copy and production with their clients as well as being available to go on client calls.
I suppose in the perfect world, we would have an additional imager or a production person for both stations, maybe another writer or two. But for now, that’s the way we are doing business at WIL/WRTH.
Dan Culhane <dculhane[at]pclink. com> KEEY/KFAN, Minneapolis, MN: Our production department covers 3 stations and consists of one full-time producer/voice (me), one full-time writer, and 6 announcer voices available on a daily basis. On the weekend, 4 voices are added to the mix. I consider this adequate, except for the shortage of female voices on staff. I have one female announcer and one salesperson that do a little v/o work. The fun part is having one Production Director and 24 sales reps.
Craig Debolt <CraigD933[at] aol.com>, Creative Services Director, WESC-A/F; WTPT, Greenville/Spartanburg, SC: Boy, did you pose this question at the wrong time! I’m still recovering from a week of running solo without our copywriter! As it stands now, we have two FMs and one AM under one production roof with a third FM on the way. We’re staffed with a full-time copywriter, an Imaging Production Director (who, along with myself, split the mid-day air-shift on our Active Rock station), and I’m the Creative Services Director. There are six full-time jocks that carry a production load on a daily basis and one part-time jock. I also throw a few hours a week to our Promotions Assistant to handle all of the ‘network’ dubbing for all the stations. You know, now that I’ve listed all these people it sounds like I have a pretty big staff. A better question for us would be “Do we have adequate facilities?!” The answer to that would be, “uh, hell no!” We only have one production room to handle any voice production, this would include any morning show bits/interviews, etc.. That’s my biggest problem. But staff-wise, I would like to have an assistant who could handle some writing along with a light production load and dubbing. This person would then obviously be available to cover any vacations...yada, yada. I know of at least one salesperson that was almost beaten senseless with his own limbs as a result of my wearing three hats last week…well, that and he’s completely incompetent.
Gerry O’Donnell <gerry[at] iol.ie>, Production Manager, TIPP FM Radio, Clonmel , Ireland: Over here in Ireland, station ownership, by law, is a little different to the US. It’s really a case of one broadcast license, one station. No such thing as multiple ownership here yet!!! So, I only have to produce for one station at the moment.
As far as production goes, I take care of all Tipp FM’s commercial and station production. I do have a couple of part-timers, mainly DJs that will cover if I’m not around. Because these guys work different hours to me, when it gets busy, we can keep the studio producing longer—essential coming up to Christmas.
Richard Stroobant <bigdick[at] cjay92.com>, CJAY/CKMX, Calgary, Alberta, Canada: Here at CJAY 92 FM and AM 1060 CKMX we have two full-time producers and a part-time guy who does about 16 hours a week doing dubs and stuff. We don’t have a ‘promo’ guy and a ‘commercial’ guy. We work for both stations and split the production up between us. If the jocks want to do produced bits, we either do it for them or they come in and do their own stuff. Like every other producer, I would love to have another full-time guy to allow more time to work on stuff, but I would have to say we are staffed adequately (except maybe around Xmas).
Geri Diorio <diorio[at]wshu .org>, Production Manager, WSHU/WSUF/WMMM, Fairfield, CT: We have three radio stations in our little group: 2 talk and information, one news and classical music. There are 2 full-timers working on production for all three stations. Occasionally we get help from our part-time board-ops, but generally, it’s my assistant and me. I imagine it’s the same story everywhere. We could use another 2 full-time people to get everything we’d like done; but as it is, we seem to pull off miracles everyday on our own.
Thanks for providing this forum; it’s very helpful to see what everyone else is doing.