Best Foot Forward
April 5, 2013
I was going to write this week about the Infinite Dial study, but, you know, sometimes, I just get tired and frustrated in writing about the industry in general. Yeah, I know, radio is alive, except that it's dying, except that it isn't. Younger people are increasingly listening to other stuff, older people are still loyal to radio. Okay, whatever. I don't own a radio station license and neither do most of you, and regardless of how you look at the study, there's still a radio industry and there will still be one, at least for a good long while, so if you're a talent or producer or programmer, all the studies become noise. All you want is to keep your job or get a new one, and no matter what the studies say, that's already a very tough thing to do in this industry.
And that's why you need to understand how your approach to getting a job is more important than ever -- fewer jobs mean way more competition for openings, and it was already intense back when there WERE more jobs. I remember having boxes full of CDs and tapes backed up waiting for me to find enough time in the day to listen, back when you sent CDs or tapes, that is -- the Jurassic Age of radio, the '90s, When I finally cleared time to listen, the simple rule was that you had mere seconds to make enough of an impression for me to listen past the beginning. Part of that was the time constraint, but part of that was that I felt I could tell if there was anything worth investigating further right there in that opening salvo.
But that was just me. I get asked "what should I put in an aircheck?" all the time, and it might help to hear another programmer's advice on that. Here's some input I got on the issue from Dan Mandis, PD at KHOW and KKZN and host at KOA in Denver, and I can't disagree with any of it. On-air talent looking for work, or even those presently employed, should heed these suggestions. Paraphrasing:
- Minimize the imaging. The PD wants to hear you, not the imaging guy, not the imaging. Don't waste the PD's time.
- Calls in which there's more caller than host -- no. Again, the PD wants to hear you, not the caller, so if you're including calls, use calls that highlight you, not the caller.
- Vary the topics. Don't just send nothing but political talk segments; show how you handle a variety of topics, political, personal, and pop culture. Show you're not one-dimensional.
- How long? Make a 4 to 5 minute demo and a simple link to your website for more if the PD's interested. Don't include a lot of links or audio files. That's common sense -- short file of your best stuff and a simple way to get more if the PD's so inclined.
- Always be prepared. You can find yourself in need of a new job at any time, so have your stuff updated and ready on a thumb drive at all times so you have it all with you when you need it. Don't leave yourself trying to get back into the station from which you were just fired to pull audio for a fresh aircheck. Have it ready and in your possession at all times.
That's Dan's list, and it's all very good advice. I'd add to that a couple of things: Absolutely stay in touch with everyone BEFORE you need a job, because so much of getting a new job is who you know, and you don't want to be Only-In-Touch-When-He (or She)-Needs-Something Guy (or Gal). (Gal? Does anyone even use that term anymore?) It's never been more simple to do that -- use social media to stay on everyone's radar through tweets, DMs, and Facebook posts and comments. (Don't expect, however, someone to instantly find you a job -- they can recommend you if they hear something, and hire you if they have something, but a lot of it is really just being actively in their minds when a position happens to open) And, as we've discussed here before, have a Plan B. And a Plan C, and a Plan D. You want to have an idea of what else you can do if regular broadcast radio isn't an option, whether it's going online or doing something in an entirely different business.
There ya go, much more practical than usual this week. Clip and save. You never know when you'll need it.
Reminder: This year's Revlon Run/Walk for Women in Los Angeles is coming on May 11th, and, as I've told you for the past few weeks and will be reminding you until then, my wife Fran, a cancer survivor of seven years, and I will be participating once again -- we walk every year to celebrate survival and raise money through the Entertainment Industry Foundation for research and services dealing with women's cancer. Your donations will be appreciated, and, yes, I'm behind on thanking the folks who have been so generous thus far, because I'm behind on everything. I'm behind on life. But the thank-yous are coming. Hey, that means you can get a thank-you, eventually, too, just by making a donation. You can do that at do.eifoundation.org/goto/pmsimon2013. Thank you!
So, I had a convention last week, and another coming up, and immense amounts of work in between, so here's just the quickest of reminders for you to use All Access News-Talk-Sports' show prep column Talk Topics for hundreds of stories and comments compiled with radio in mind, available by clicking here for the full column or going to Twitter at @talktopics, where you'll find every story linked to the appropriate item. It's free. You like free.
And follow my personal Twitter account at @pmsimon, find me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pmsimon, and visit the other site I edit, Nerdist.com. And watch "The Nerdist" on Saturday night at 10p (ET) on BBC America (or Sunday at 7p (ET) on Space in Canada). I'm not on it, so it's safe.
Going to Vegas for the NAB Show or RAIN Summit? I'll see you there. Actually, I might be too tired and frazzled to even notice who's there, but come up and say hello anyway.