Play What's On The Music Log
July 15, 2014
There is a difference between being creative and following programming directions and procedures. I have always understood creative miscues; you follow whatever your method is to get the end result for something and it doesn't work. However, not following directions is insubordination. Unless mechanical failure has caused a problem with carrying out a plan, it is the ultimate in disagreeing with programming's plan to achieve station goals. Agree off the air, but not on the air by disobeying an order. It is hard to believe, even with music monitors, some personalities still attempt to get away with not playing scheduled music. I spoke recently with an APD/MD in a situation with a cluster OM and a prima donna afternoon jock with delusions of knowing what is best for the listener.
APD: Our afternoon person has been changing some of the music in the hours he is on. We do not have a PD right now and the OM for our cluster has me taking care of scheduling the music. We also have a VP/Programming. This jock has always taken jabs at me personally and he is always asking me questions about why are we playing this song or why is it a particular recurrent has come up in his daypart on back-to-back days. I am not sure how to handle this.
Coach: How long has he been doing this and is he changing things daily?
APD: I started to notice it last week and based on the monitor, he is rearranging entire hours on some days. Until we get a PD, I am trying not to cause a big to-do, but our numbers and his have been falling off and I think what he is doing might be causing the problem for his show and maybe part of the stations.
Coach: How many hours a day do you have to schedule music for?
APD: We have syndication in the morning and the afternoons. On the overnights we voicetrack with our music. Oh, I forgot to mention that he just sent me an e-mail saying he thought we were playing the same songs too much on our station. Sam, our VP/Programming and Cluster OM go over our musical game plan every week in our conference call and I understand the game plan.
Coach: This is not about how or what is being played, this is about following directions and being a team player. Do not get caught up in the personal thing of whether or not this person likes or dislikes you. How long has it been since you had a PD?
APD: It has been several months and I have no idea how long before someone is hired. I did apply, too.
Coach: It sounds as if they have taken their time because you are actually auditioning for the job and didn't know it. But regardless of whenever they make a decision, you have to take care of this because it could be affecting the ratings. Not only that, but by not bringing attention to this, your tenure could be cut short for letting things get out of hand.
APD: What do you suggest? Did you ever run into this sort of thing?
Coach: Very simple, whenever this personality e-mails or leaves you a note questioning why this or that is being done with the music, always restate his question in an e-mail, cc the OM and the VP/Programming, and start filing these in folder. Take the safe route and always answer "This is the current plan for us to meet our programming objectives. Thank you for asking." In reality, based on what you have described, no answer would be good enough, so don't fret over preparing a long drawn-out answer.
Then begin checking the daily 24-hour Mediabase music log and check it against what you had scheduled to be played. Each time you find he has changed things around or played a song that you did not program; simply give him a memo and/or send an e-mail with a copy of the monitored, with cc's to both the OM and VP/Programming and just put a question mark sign. Follow it up with your superiors by asking them on the conference call how they want you proceed. Keep doing the documenting and sending the e-mail until either the jock stops or your OM and VP/Programming tell you otherwise.
APD: Gotcha, is this what they call building a file?
APD: It sounds like you have dealt with this sort of thing before.
Coach: Yes I have on several occasions. From time to time, I have had jocks move music around or drop a song, and I would deal with it casually unless it became a chronic problem, and then I created the paper trail, and sometimes it ended in a parting of the ways. However I did have one incident which stands out from the rest.
I was driving home and I thought I was listening to another station when I heard an album comedy cut on the quiet storm. My immediate reaction was to call and find out to see what that was all about. But I managed to restrain myself and proceeded to hear two more comedy cuts over the next two hours before the personality's shift was over.
This was the craziest thing I had ever heard and I called the GM as soon as I got home. I told him what I heard and that I would check the monitor the first thing in the morning. The very next day not only had this clown played Richard Pryor and George Carlin cuts; he had played three songs during his shift, which had not been scheduled. In fact, these were songs on hold but still existed in the automation system.
I pulled all the data and scheduled a meeting with him and the GM. This personality had a file on him for various infractions over the years, but never anything to rival this foolishness. He actually brought his agent with him and proceeded to explain why he did what he did and justified it by saying the comedy cuts brought a flavor to the adult listeners and the non-scheduled songs were requests.
He insisted these were important songs which had been taken out of rotation and his listeners loved them. He ignored the fact he had been exposed to research showing these songs were among others the majority of our station's audience were not familiar with. The other key was the numerous memos telling the air staff to follow the music logs and if for any reason a song needed to be dropped or added during a show, I was to be called for permission and the reason why.
The meeting took a bizarre twist when the jock jumped up while his agent was talking and stormed out of the meeting. The GM and I actually felt sorry for the agent because it was an embarrassing. Immediately following the meetings, the GM looked at me and asked who I had in mind to take over the shift and he agreed this personality had just fired himself.
The morale of the story is to do what you are instructed to do even if you disagree. You were hired to perform and follow whatever game plan programming puts in place. Program management -- do not let things out of hand. Depending on the experience of the individual manage accordingly. When it comes to the music log, regularly check and make sure what's scheduled is being played.