Missing In Action
October 15, 2013
Within a radio station there is no such thing as too much communication to ensure scheduled music and commercials are aired. Despite all the computers, scheduling systems, and fail-safe technology, the most important devices are phones, intercoms and your legs. As a PD, I only got upset with jocks if they did not make the effort to alert those designated for fixing a problem and also notify me. Staying ahead or on top of things can prevent additional meetings in the work day. Check out this e-mail I received:
Jock: The OM is all over me about spots that I missed on my show the other day.
Coach: What shift do you do?
Jock: Afternoons, 2 till 6
Coach: Tell me what happened.
Jock: The same car spot missed in my 3 and 4p hrs. I descrept it both times, so I don't understand why he is so upset!
Coach: What kind of automation system does your station use?
Jock: Nex Gen. The spot was listed in the break, but I guess there was no audio and Nex Gen skipped right to the next spot in the sequence. So how is that my fault? We do make-goods all the time.
Coach: Did this happen on a weekday or weekend?
Jock: It was this past Thursday
Coach: You can do the right thing and still be wrong. In your case the OM is wondering why you did not immediately contact someone in advance of the commercial break it first missed. And he is even more confused you allowed it to happen again without alerting traffic, the production director or him. With Nex Gen, when there is no audio in a commercial, it shows up in orange on the merged commercial/music log. It happened during business hours and your OM probably thinks this is inexcusable. Is this the first time this has happened during your show?
Jock: I assumed traffic already knew about it and yes it has happened before. The OM is always passing the buck and it is his job to handle these problems.
Coach: When it comes to missing commercials, never assume anything; it is a team effort to keep a station running efficiently. Scheduled commercials that are not airing can set off a chain of events leading to grief for a host of people -- traffic, production, programming, salespersons, billing, the GM and anyone else in the line of fire. Many issues can be at stake: Is this a difficult client? Was this already a make-good? Is the spot time-sensitive? Is sales trying to renew the client to a long contract? Somehow the missing commercials never got to billing before invoices were sent out, no room for make-goods, maybe it has been happening too frequently and the GM has been on the OM's butt about it, etc. Just by doing the simple thing of verbally alerting folks, all sorts of woes could have been avoided. The upside would be to find out traffic and productions were already aware of the missing spot. Commercials pay the bills, including your salary, so it is important to increase the likelihood for all scheduled spots to be aired.
There was some breakdown within the procedures and you were the last one in the chain to prevent/correct the problem. Nex Gen updates are mandatory and the system has the capability of sending automatic e-mails to traffic if there is missing audio for a spot. It is also customary for many OMs/PDs to actually merge daily scheduled music and commercial logs once traffic has sent theirs to file. Anything without audio would appear if the merged was being reviewed page by page.
I do not know what happened, but take responsibility for what you could have done. In the future, check the screen in advance for any missing audio indicated by orange highlighting and immediately let production and traffic know. If programming does not have a procedure in place for missing commercials on holidays and weekends, be proactive and ask how to handle the situation. Filling out a discrepancy sheet or e-mailing is never enough: go the extra mile and literally say something.