Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Five - More Radio

Five more things you didn't know about radio:

1)  If you call the studio and the DJ doesn't answer (especially if you just heard him/her talking), the station is automated.  Oh, they might still be local, and the DJ might actually work at that station, but everything is pre-recorded and programmed into computers to play in sequence.  Song, chatter, commercials, weather, song...  (Yeah, we can program voice recordings to talk over the intro and fade of songs, so you can't tell we're not there.)

2)  Everything is run by computer.  All the songs are computer files.  (Older, smaller, and financially strapped stations might still have CDs.)  We don't have albums or turn-tables anymore.  Geez, most of today's DJs have never "cued" a record.  Commercials are computer files.  And in the case of automation, even the DJ voice is converted to a computer file.

3)  If your favorite morning team has suddenly gone solo, your station is in financial trouble.  Why should they pay two people to do one person's job?  And if your favorite morning guy reads his own news, your station operates on a shoestring.  You're lucky they're still in business.

4)  If your favorite radio station changes format (the kind of music they play), it means they haven't been making enough money with the format they had.  Not many people listen to it, so advertisers won't buy it.  Changing format means a station thinks it can sell more ads if it plays something else.  No station ever plays a kind of music to "serve" the public.  They play what sells.

5)  If all the DJs on your favorite radio station seem to be different people all of a sudden, chances are very good that there's been a change in management or ownership.  This kind of change often causes a great exodus of employees.  Because the new guy has something to prove, he'll either scare subordinates away by demanding better product or replace them with someone who will work harder and cheaper.

6)  BONUS - Any station that promises you "more music, less talk" is promising you fewer commercials only because they aren't selling them.  Also, they are promising you that your favorite DJ is now automating his/her shift (see item #1) and going home early for less pay.  Look for these promises in January when you're finished Christmas shopping.


Beast said...

I have a question. One station I listen to has moments of dead air every now and then.(the one that had a commercial that ended "Where do you get your cremations at?" with nary a pause..."Indian head Golf Course!") What's a likely scenario to cause the dead air?

Thumper said...

Sheesh, I feel old. I remember when they played actual records on the air. It was annoying and amusing when records would skip and the DJ was obviously too occupied with something else to fix it...

Dani said...

So (and you do not need to answer this here) sounds like things are going well at your job. Or perhaps I'm just assuming every company is doing badly(and perhaps that's from experience).

Roses said...

Beast: First of all, kudos for knowing the term "dead air"!

Second, there are two reasons why there might be dead air. They are technical difficulty and operator error.

See item #2. With so many things run my machines, there are many opportunities for something to go wrong. A computer might hiccup, catch a virus, erase something, freeze up, or plain old die.

If it's a human error, could be the jock hit the wrong button or isn't paying attention.

Re. not paying attention: We *do* a lot of things when in the studio... like answering the phone, updating crap on the station's website, programming the computer to do the next half hour's worth of stuff, and sometimes running into the next studio to quickly record something that we found missing.

Thumper: There are really good jock stories about those skipping records. Like being in the bathroom when it happens and hearing it skip over and over on the speaker system. Or, putting on a long song and leaving the building to get a smoke and being locked out.
Maybe I can scrape together five of those some Friday...

Dani: We are living each quarter as it comes. Had a second round of furloughs this year. Hoping no lay-offs in the new year.

After I typed up this list, I realized how each entry was about money and operating on the cheap. Funny how I thought it was sad, but you thought it was positive. :)

Beast said...

I had been told the more an employee has to do at a station, the more likely they have a low salary and the smaller the station. I figured it was normal operating procedure.

Thank you for the answers. My brother was a DJ (late night) and I had a friend that did the same on the local FM radio. Very small town. This was back when Casey K. still put the Top 40 on LP's. (I've dated myself, oh dear!)