Why Am I Being Penalized For Success?
January 28, 2014
It is all in the details and how you explain things to people. A lot of times we hear the word, "no," and it is natural to take it personally. But it is usually no more than a judgment made in the moment based on factors involving "The Big Picture." I always tell people it is their job to follow directions and for the bosses to make decisions. But it doesn't mean not to ask questions for a better understanding of why the answer is no. I remember a jock running into my office and screaming, "You really did use my idea." It was a funny moment because I originally had told him his promotional idea was good, but the timing was all wrong. He took it as a no and six months later, I surprised him by implementing his idea of Count the Music for free cash. Here is an e-mail exchange with a personality having a tough time getting paid remotes.
Jock: My show gets good ratings and I am beating the other jock across the street by a lot. My PD is always telling me how proud he is of me and what a difference I have made since coming on board. I have been here almost two years and if I am doing so well ... how come I don't get many remotes? They told me I would get remotes; I am lucky if I get one a month. Sometimes I get requested but if it falls up on the time of my air shift, my PD says it's more important I am at the station to do my show.
Coach: Were the remotes a contractual thing?
Jock: No, they just told me I would get my share. The young lady I replaced used to get a lot.
Coach: Let's keep the focus on you and not your predecessor. This kind of thing is delicate and a constant source of irritation at stations. I would always try and get a jock in rotation and have sales make sure clients were aware of the talents of any of my new personalities. No matter what market, I would hear from sales about clients requesting this or that jock; I would respond with, "what if," and convince a salesperson to have clients name a backup in case the first choice was unavailable. It is important for station personnel to get along, but collusion and an occasional kickback does happen between some salespeople and air personalities. Too many requests are not from a client, but personal requests from a salesperson ... or the worst-case scenario of a personality working a deal with an existing client behind the back of sales and programming.
In a fair and balanced radio world, remotes would be assigned on an even rotation basis with the exception of an actual verified client request. You need to have your PD and Sales Manager allow you to come to a sales meeting and talk to them about your expertise at remotes and ask them what you need to do for clients to request you more. Yes, I know your Nielsen numbers are great, but this business is not always about ratings; sometimes it's relationships, timing and playing the game.
There was a young lady who I hired for a drivetime shift who had a tough time getting remotes. As soon as she arrived, I maneuvered her into some good situations, but she managed to alienate sales, a couple of clients and worst all, her fellow announcers. Eventually she stopped getting requested and it became increasingly hard to get her anything. However, her situation brought to light a problem that you're being overlooked for remote requests because they take place during your regular air time.
It is important to understand remotes are not favors to clients, but often money an advertiser would rather spend this way as opposed to traditional commercial spot buys. I have heard some programmers argue salespeople need to be stronger and not let clients convert spots to remotes.
I recently talked with a Regional VP/ Sales who said "Remotes are helping some markets get dollars they might not get. Things are tight out here and jobs are on the line. I know the other side of the argument is that we are compromising the sound of our stations and the ratings with too many remotes."
Now to answer your question, the station is not your personal agent and the main concern is the presentation to the audience. There is a situation which could work in your favor if it happens. I talked to another PD and he has a policy which I also used: "My jocks understand on-the-air trumps everything. However, I do have a policy for sales that addresses a personality being requested for a remote occurring during their regular shift. There is a huge dollar amount attached, a built-in cost to cover an ISDN line, and money to pay the board op. Trust me, these full-blown live remotes do not happen often. These types of remotes should never be done by phone."
Jock: I understand what he is saying, but it still not fair. Some of these guys around here get four and five remotes a month. So how should I approach the PD to try and get him to even consider the same type of full-blown remote thing at our place?
Coach: Bring it up in your next one-on-one with your PD; don't do it in a jock meeting. Above all, do not be confrontational ... present it to him calmly. By the way, you also said something about the sound of your station's remotes. Is it technical or in the presentation?
Jock: Sometimes when I do remotes, they don't sound right, like something is off. We use cell phones.
Coach: Who does the physical set-up with van remotes?
Jock: Usually it's either the assistant promotions director or one of the part-time DJs.
Coach: You need to pay attention to see if it's a persistent problem or something that only happens when a particular staffer does set-up. It could be how the monitors are positioned, your cell phone, or something technical. Either way, explain it to your PD when you meet, however I would think the PD is aware and has been trying to get the problem solved.
Jock: Welcome to my world; no one brings it up at meetings, but I will follow your suggestion on that and everything else.
Tech reminders: As a courtesy to new salespersons, always make sure they understand the different ways a remote can be done by programming. If an ISDN line is involved give them a memo explaining the phone company needs 15 to 20 working days to order special equalized phone lines.
Remember being on the radio is potentially a gateway to making extra money away from the station. I know personalities who also teach, do commercial voiceover work, perform PA (Public Address) work for sports teams, or actually take regular part-time jobs for extra cash. Never count on remotes as a constant revenue source; what you do for a living could open up other doors.