Doing Just Enough ... Isn't Enough
July 26, 2016
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 landline phones, smart 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 PD 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: What happened?
Jock: The same car spot missed in both my 3p and 4p. I put it on the discrepancy sheet both times, so I don't understand why he got so mad.
Coach: What kind of automation system does your station use?
Jock: NexGen. The spot was listed in the break, but I guess there was no audio and NexGen 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 PD is wondering why you didn't immediately contact someone in advance of the first commercial break it missed. And he is even more confused you allowed it to happen again without letting traffic, the production director or him know anything. I know that with the NexGen digital automation system, when there is no audio in a commercial indicated on the screen, it shows up in orange on the merged commercial/music log. This happened during business hours and your PD 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's happened before. The PD is always passing the buck and it is his job to handle problems like this.
Coach: When it comes to missing commercials, never assume anything. It is a team effort to keep a station running efficiently. Scheduled commercials that do not air can set off a chain of events leading to problems for a lot of people. Seriously, there's traffic, production, programming, salespersons, billing, the VP/GM, AD agencies, 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 the salesperson trying to renew the client to a long contract? Picture these scenarios; somehow the missing commercials never get to billing before invoices go out, no room for make-goods, maybe missing spots has been happening too often and the VP/GM has been on the PD's butt about it, etc. You need to understand, just by doing the simple thing of verbally alerting folks, all sorts of woes can be avoided.
Jock: So you are saying if any of those things happen, it's all on me. Shouldn't those other departments and the PD stay on top of these things so the personalities can concentrate on their shows and not have to deal with things like that?
Coach: In a perfect world, I might agree with you, but none of us are perfect. It's called being human. You need to realize that you are a part of a system that is only as good as what everyone within puts into it. The upside in the future would be for you to find out if traffic and production were already aware of the missing spot. What you do as a personality is important and what you do as part of the station's system is just as important. Remember, commercials pay the bills, including your salary, so it is important to increase the likelihood for all scheduled spots to be aired. Take the effort to look ahead and let someone know something is about to be missed.
Jock: Hey this has happened to our night guy and some of the guys here on weekends. There is no one to walk down the hallway to.
Coach: Look, I think you and all the jocks should take the time to find out the procedures to avoid missing commercials at all hours of the day and week. By the way, you did a good job of shifting away from the original problem of missing commercials during your shift. Getting back on track, there was some breakdown within the procedures and you were the last one in the chain to prevent those spots from missing.
Jock: Isn't there some way to not take me away from doing my show?
Coach: Going the extra mile to communicate thoroughly is the key. But I will say this: NexGen updates are mandatory and the system has the capability of sending automatic e-mails to traffic if there is missing audio for a spot. As for your PD, it's 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. However, neither one of these things has anything to do with you being a part of the solution. Everyone has to work together, filling out a discrepancy sheet or e-mailing is never enough: Go the extra mile and literally say something.