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Radio Account Exec “Throws In” Announcer’s On-Hold Messaging For Free

radio account executivesRecently a member of David Tyler’s Radio Imaging & Production group on Facebbook posted this question.

I’m reprinting it here with permission of the person who posted it as well as with David’s permission.

Scenario: A regular client at the station wants to use the announcer that voices their spots, to also voice their “on hold message and telephone navigation system”. They also want you to produce it. The sales rep has promised all this to them at no cost and no compensation to the producer or the announcer (but still collecting his commission of course)… Do you risk your job fighting it?

Although most of the group members’ comments reflected my own outrage at that scenario, I was surprised that some people didn’t see anything wrong with it.

The common defense was, “Hey, they’re paying the bills, so…”

My Response

The sales rep’s behavior easily is one of the most unprofessional actions I’ve ever heard of in the radio industry.

If the account exec is a new salesperson, he should be strongly “re-educated” by station management.

If the account exec has been working at the station long enough to be considered a “veteran,” the AE should be warned that if he ever does something like that again, he’ll be looking new employment.

Yes, I understand that, unfortunately, commercial radio long has been poisoned from the inside by some managers and owners whose attitude is, “If someone offers us money, we’ll do it.”

Hence, frequently airing spots that violate the copyright of a song and/or recording.

Less frequently — but often enough that those managers should consider not violating the law — spots that result in the station’s owner paying large financial settlements to the aggrieved copywriting holders.

Hence, occasionally paying large FCC fines for airing advertisements in which the identity of the advertiser wasn’t divulged.

The Sales Rep Has No Authority to Offer Your Outside Services for Free.

The announcer’s (either a production guy or a jock) job includes recording radio commercials for the station’s clients.

It doesn’t including doing whatever else the client wants…

…or whatever else the salesperson decides to “throw in” to get the buy.

If the jock also does a lot of mobile DJ work for large parties, does the account executive think he has the right to “throw that in” as well?

Can the AE decide you’ll emcee their kid’s bar mitzvah party?

Can the AE unilaterally offer to have you host a charity auction?

What if the client wants the announcer to narrate an industrial video or a sales video for them — “thrown in as part of the deal”?

Can the AE unilaterally offer to have you mow the client’s lawn? Sweep their warehouse?

While many radio jocks continue the long tradition of being underpaid and under-appreciated, they are not indentured servants.


What if it’s a business the announcer never would want to associate with?

Let’s say you’re the announcer…and you’re a staunch political conservative. Do you want to be the guy whose voice everyone hears when they call a far left-wing organization — without your having a choice?

If you’re a staunch iiberal, do you want to be the guy whose voice everyone hears when they call a far right-wing organization — without your having a choice?

What if you do have an on-hold/IVR business on the side and one of the advertiser’s competitors has paid you a premium to have an exclusive on your phone voice in that particular niche?

Who will handle any problems that develop with that client?

What if the client insist upon multiple reads of each recording, so he “can pick the best one”?

What if the client’s brother-in-law criticizes the company’s on-hold messages, prompting the client to demand they all be redone?

Is the announcer expected to keep giving and giving, all because an unprofessional sales rep greedily agreed to give away practically anything in order to book the commission?

Is it forever? Is the announcer expected to maintain that free account forever?

How will the client feel when a year from now they ask for updated recordings, the jock tells them how much it will cost them, and the client starts screaming at the A.E.?

What if that account exec no longer works at the station and the client still is on the air? Does his replacement tell the client, “Sorry, that deal was made by the other guy. He doesn’t work here any more”?

The Announcer Deserves Full Compensation for Any Outside Work…Assuming He Agrees to It in the First Place.

A few people suggested — perhaps in earnest, perhaps sarcastically — that the jock should share in the salesperson’s commission.


In the case we’re referencing, the jock’s standard, non-discounted fee for IVR work should be deducted from the entire buy.

Someone has to pay for the jock’s additional professional services.

That someone may be the account exec; it may be the radio station.

But “being a team player” (managers love to throw that at jocks and production people when trying to get them to do something for nothing) does not mean giving away — or even discounting — your professional services.

It’s Worse than Bad Business.
It’s Stupid Business.

“Throwing in anything for free” to close the sale reduces the station’s product to a commodity rather than to a valuable, specialized service.

When you’re positioned as a commodity, your customer base unhesitatingly will leave you for an advertising schedule at a competing station that offers a lower price and more “value added” — y’know, “We’ll also throw in this and this and this…”

And it devalues the announcer’s outside business interests…all the way to zero.

(I don’t know about you, but I know that I don’t want to be something that can be “thrown in for free.”)

“But the client pays our bills,” protests the sales manager/manager/owner. “We give them what they want.”

There’s a word for the type of person who will do anything for money.

If the Radio Station’s Management Were Smart…

…they would launch a separate, wholly owned business that provides recorded voice prompts and on-hold messages as a standalone product.

They could employ a small stable of voices who are contracted and paid specifically for that work.

If they were smart, they could build enough margin into their business model that — if they wanted — they could afford to be somewhat “flexible” on the rates they offer their advertisers without reducing the fees paid to the talent who do the actual work.

Is that likely to happen?

No comment.

What I Would Say to that Radio Station Account Executive

If a salesperson told me he’d “thrown in” my business voice messaging services for free, this would be my response:

“I’m sorry you told the client I would record their phone messages for free; I cannot do that.

“My fee for doing what you described is $XXX.

“If the client wants me to do that for them, please have them send me the contact information of the company’s decision maker, and I’ll send them my standard contract.

“No, it will not be at a discounted rate.

“No, not just this one time.

“No, you don’t get a commission on that contract.”

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