Quit Making It About You ...
June 28, 2016
Following procedures and applying thought to some situations has been and will continue to be an issue for radio and mankind. Two of my favorite sayings are, "Common sense is not so common anymore" and "I hope your common sense matches mine." It all boils down to humanity, simplicity, not over-thinking, looking outside oneself, and checking with the proper chain of command.
Where am I going with this? An air personality complained to me about a situation involving an on-air interview.
Jock: I have just been reprimanded for doing my job.
Coach: What are you talking about?
Jock: My partner and I take a lot of time every day to prepare for our show. This morning we had an interview which I thought was not relevant and we caught hell because we moved it to where I thought it would fit in the overall scheme of our show. Usually when we get off the air we unwind for 15 minutes before our daily meeting with the PD. But, before we could even get out of the studio, the PD said he wanted us to come to his office right away.
Coach: I am with you so far, so what happened?
Jock: We got yelled at for moving the interview by 20 minutes; we already had a segment planned that worked well with what we were talking about.
Coach: Was this a last-minute interview?
Jock: No, oh, I forgot to tell you, the promotions manager came to the studio and demanded we put this guy on the air. I told him we were following our script and would make it happen in our next break.
Coach: You did not answer my question ... was this all last minute?
Jock: You cut me off, let me finish. We had seen the e-mail the previous day with some basic information about the guest. It was supposed to be a basic 90-second sort of thing. Not sure where promotions get off trying to make us change our show right in the middle of things, but nevertheless, we did the interview. Not sure why, but we did it.
The PD tells us that we had made a major mistake and what we did was causing repercussions in other departments. All of this because we were trying to do a good show. He should be taking up for us, but instead he threw us under the bus, he wrote us up, and put in in our files. You would think the PD would be on our side and want us to do the best show every day.
Coach: I must be missing something. You said you knew about the interview; why did you move it?
Jock: Here we go, you sound like you are taking sides.
Coach: No, this is not about taking sides, I want to know the facts and not an interpretation of them. So, tell me about moving the interview.
Jock: Apparently it's political; he is a friend of the sales manager. We had planned this bit for 7:20a, we moved the interview to 7:50, no biggie. The guy was back in our lounge area drinking coffee, we let him know when he was going on. We did not want to mess with the flow of what we had prepared.
Coach: Without talking to your PD and listening to what you have to say, I have a clear understanding of the situation and there are some things you need to learn.
Jock: So you are taking his side.
Coach: Again, this is not about taking sides, take a deep breath and listen. This is about more than just the interview, you and your partner need to start looking at things from a big picture point of view. First of all, did you ever think this guest might have had to be somewhere else and that is why he was scheduled at 7:20a? Also, it's a team thing; the promotions department plays a vital part in a lot of areas and it is not your place to question their authority when it comes to representing management as they did in this case; trying to keep you on track with station business. Come on and be objective, you had an attitude concerning this interview, it came out when you started to explain the situation. Most important, yes it's your show, but it's the PDs responsibility to run the programming department. You should have immediately called him and asked if it was okay to move the interview. You left him in an indefensible position.
Jock: What about creative freedom?
Coach: Don't take this personally, but this is about your ego and wanting to be the boss. Following directions and procedures have nothing to do with creativity. Has your PD told you to call him if you need to?
Jock: Yes, he said whenever we need to get in touch with him, just call or text.
Coach: You interpreted this as something insignificant and just an interview. Did you stop to think the interview might have been tied to other circumstances involving the community, a client, or your company? Part of your job is to follow directions and you did not follow the procedure of calling the PD to check if you could switch anything around. Let the PD do his or her job of making decisions concerning the airwaves. You are not an island unto yourself. Sit with your boss and get a clearer understanding of how to deal with procedures. You have to get in sync with the business of radio through your PD. I am sure your PD has told you and the programming staff about these areas before, but only part of it sunk in. You probably thought, "What does this have to do with what I do on the air?" Well, now you have had a glimpse of what the PD was talking about.
Jock: I still think it's a big deal about nothing, but okay, my partner and I will get with the PD and figure this stuff out.
Everything Is Connected
Teamwork is not a cliché, it's the reality of working with others in any organization. At a radio station, everything connects on various levels and there are procedures in place to meet the simple goals of getting along and making money. Air personalities can't divorce themselves from the responsibilities of meeting communication expectations.
Reissue procedural memos every so often to try and keep the focus on roles and expectations for your department. Nothing is failsafe or perfect, but it better.