Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Middle of the End

A little over a year ago, the company I used to work for essentially gave its radio stations new rules to play by. "New Fundamentals", they called it. There had been a ton of research done (and paid for) and by golly, THIS was the way we were going to do radio from here on out. I remember the first time everyone sat down to go over the NF, I thought "uh oh". The reasearch was broken down in dozens of different categories, and when it was all added up, it came down to this...

"What are the 40 year old females with kids talking about today?"

Yep, this was the phrase that pays. Forget about 75 years of radio, and how it got to where it is. That was all wrong. This was now the bottom line. You were to bring in ideas about what was important to the soccer mom. 25 year old single guy? Who cares? Retirees? Old people don't matter. Divorced dad? Nope. What we were to bring to the show each day was what the 40 year old F.W.K. was talking about.

I'm 42 years old, male, with no kids. A dog, sure, but no offspring. Married, but no "miracles" to raise. Big, big trouble. I was now supposed to put myself into a world that was almost polar opposite of the one I had been living. Past successes be damned, if you weren't reaching that 40 year old F.W.K. demographic, you better change the way you're doing things, or find another line of work.

This started with my old partner, Brooks , who was also my boss at the time. I know deep down she was against the mandate, but when you're caught in a combine, you'll do everything you can to get free. Brooks didn't have kids either, and she is just about as big a sports fan as me, so we did the best we could to make it happen. When Mark joined us, and after Brooks left mornings to work mid-days, you had two 40 something guys, neither one of whom had kids. This did not bode well for the future

Yes, we were now supposed to be focusing on and talking about women stuff. Specifically, we were supposed to be talking about the pop culture stuff that gals just couldn't get enough of. This meant watching and talking about "Dancing With the Stars", "Grey's Anatomy", and just about everything else on ABC's schedule. If it was a story about our personal lives, we were to spin it in a way that women could most identify with (ASIDE: I never understood why the bosses wanted us to talk about TV so much. Why steer listeners to do something else other than listen to the radio? No one has less respect for their customers than radio).

Getting thirsty with all this typing. Gonna grab a soda here real quick. I really need to invest in some voice typing software.

Ahhh. Ok, it was no small coincidence when management said they were going to hire a producer for our show. Mind you, we never asked for one. Between the two of us, Mark Stevens and I had 40 years of broadcast experience, and never had either of us used or needed a producer. We did our own things our way, and didn't need a third wheel. Still, the decision was made. A producer we would get....and it had to be a gal. If any guys are reading this who sent a tape for that job, I really don't think you were ever considered.

The person chosen for the job was picked because she fit CC's prime qualification- she'd work cheap. She was 28 or 29 with no kids. Are ya getting all this? If we were going to hire a gal to work on the show, why wouldn't we hire one that fit the mold instead of someone who's at least a decade away from anything close to what the prime demographic was? If you guessed "they wanted too much money", you'd be correct.

Natalie came on board, and while I thought she was a nice kid, she was in way over her head. Now I had to produce what the producer did, and she learned on the job. Las Vegas is in the Top 40 for radio markets in the US, and shouldn't be used as a training ground for a Top 5 morning show, but that was the hand we were dealt. Early reviews were mixed, and the most common complaint being piped in from upstairs was "you're not utilizing Natalie enough". Mark and I became the occupants of Red Flag City, and each day felt like we had a bomb strapped to our back. That we did, but it only went off once. More to come......

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