I Don't Want To Do Weekends Forever
November 11, 2014
Everyone lives for the weekend and in radio, it can be a special time for listeners and the only time for some air personalities. My favorite time to work was Saturday midday in the summertime. The air conditioning was on full blast in the studio and I knew what I was playing and saying was center stage for all the listeners tuned in.
I don't want to romanticize weekends and mislead you into thinking every one of my experiences that time of the week was like a made for television stereotype of a DJ, because it wasn't.
The first part-time weekend shift I ever worked at a commercial station was in college on a Saturday/Sunday morning overnight from Mid-6a. I was so excited and had taken a lot of notes earlier in the week when the PD explained to me how to air the recorded programs that began airing at 4a. I played music and read a five-minute newscast every hour until the recorded shows began. Having always been a late-night person, I figured it was a cinch to work this time slot, but there is a big difference between staying up late and staying awake until 6a.
By the time my relief came in, I was mumbling, tired and hungry. My first mistake was going to Denny's and eating a bowl of chili before heading home for some sleep. It was about 7a, still dark and I figured I would sleep until the NBA game came on at noon. I can remember jumping up, noticing it was only 7:30 and I assumed I had just had a cat nap because I was nervous about oversleeping and missing the game. I was exhausted and thought I should force myself to stay awake for the game and sleep afterwards. I turned on the TV and there was a movie on, I thought this was strange, there were no movies on this channel at this time of the morning, Then I thought, something is odd, looking at the clock again, it now said 7:35, way too early to call a friend to see if they knew what was going on. So I called the station and asked the guy who answered why there was a movie on? I can still remember him saying, "There is always a movie on at 7 on Sunday." I said, "I have never seen a movie on this channel this early in the morning. He replied, "Sir it's Sunday night." I had slept the entire day.
My first weekend experience formed a special bond I would always have for weekend jocks and that is why I took the time to try and give this weekend part-timer some advice.
Jock: I feel as though I am left out a lot. Sometimes I do not even get some of the memos.
Coach: You have to inject yourself and not be the forgotten person. I used to always advise my part-timers and weekenders to make regular business-hour visits once a week so everyone could see their face. It is always smart to ask the Promotions Director if they need any help or stop by production and see it the Production Director needs a hand. Don't hang out, but be seen. Also, check in with the OM, PD and or MD. It is a good way to always stay at the top-of-mind awareness.
Jock: Be seen, right?
Coach: Right ... and it is a good time to ask questions about memos or anything else on your mind. The key words are to listen and learn. I would also suggest you ask your boss what would be a good day to come in for an aircheck session. Many times, weekenders don't get this luxury due to all sorts of reasons. Yes, the PD should be doing them anyway, but these days it is hard enough for some of them to sit with the full-timers for a session.
Jock: What is the best time of the week to drop by the station?
Coach: I always suggest Thursdays because earlier in the week there are too many meetings and on Fridays everyone is busy working to try and get out the door.
Jock: How can I get off weekends and do full-time?
Coach: I already told you to get in some critique sessions with your PD. If you need more, make friends on social media with another PD or personality and ask them to occasionally listen to your demos. Something else that is important: Get in the habit of listening to your air work. You can't improve without listening to your work, although you are probably your worst critic, you can try and learn to recognize your strengths and weaknesses through personal observation. Between doing that, critiques from your boss, and pointers from a friendly programming outsider, should put you on the road towards a full-time job somewhere.
You also need to learn how to prep for your shows. Get to work an hour before your shift and check to see what's playing in and around your allowed talk times, go over the studio liners, read the local paper for local happenings, and check the Internet for entertainment stuff. Check with your PD during critiques for their suggestions on how they want you to present from prepping. Listen to the jocks on your station and other stations to hear how they do things. You will learn how to inform and entertain concisely within the guidelines of your station's program directives.
Jock: Why do I have to go to another station to work full-time?
Coach: It could happen for you there, but I must warn you, sometimes great weekend jocks can become valuable utility players. Honestly, it is easier to replace a full-timer, then a part-time weekend personality who can fill in for any shift. Hopefully, your station is one that promotes from within. If that is not the case be prepared to move to another station for full-time employment
Jock: Anything else?
Coach: Yes. It's your job to check in and stay in touch with what's going on in terms of contests, promotions and procedures. I know many times a part-timer has a full-time or another part-time job to pay the bills, but make every effort to attend jock meetings and when you can't, make sure your boss knows you won't be there. However, make sure you get with him or her either in person or on the phone to find out what the meeting was about. Let me be clear: This does not mean 30 minutes before your weekend shift or shifts start. Be proactive and stay on top of things.