PRODUCTION DIRECTOR "CARES TOO MUCH?"
QUESTION FOR DAN O’DAY:
How do you maintain the integrity you've worked so hard to achieve when the client insists on something so incredibly boneheaded that it drags your station, as well as the good name of my production department, right down into a cesspool just because they've prepaid for it and insist on doing it their way?
Today, I had my ass handed to me for the umpteenth time in six months of employment because I give a damn. I don't respond particularly well to being handed dumbed-down pap "because the client wants it AND we have a $1500 check in hand," and management knows it because I go from being a really nice guy to a grumbling, morose, nasty guy.
Is there a way to win out against those 1500 really good reasons, do I care too much, or am I simply tilting at windmills?
Your problem is not that you care too much.
Your problem is two-fold:
1. You don't want to recognize Reality.
2. You haven't yet learned to pick your battles.
Reality: The situation you describe is the situation that exists at most U.S. radio stations. (Before I offend every person who reads this, please note I said "most," not "all.") That is why you can sit through countless locally produced commercials without hearing anything that is worth listening to or that is producing results for the client. (A whole lot of national commercials waste the clients' money, too....But that's another story.)
But the problem is not with your weak salespeople and/or dumb clients. The problem is with our industry's long-established shortsightedness and lack of respect for its own product.
And you're not going to change that. If you can't be happy working where you work, work somewhere else. Leave. Find another job at a station with professionals on staff (even the salespeople), pride in its product, and a genuine commitment to produce results for its clients.
Those stations are rare (even every station manager in the world will insist that his/her station certainly fits that description), but they do exist. You've just got to find them.
Picking Your Battles: As simplistic as this might sound to you, regularly fighting losing battles isn't noble; it's stupid. It wears you out and wastes your time and shortens your life.
If you know you have no chance of convincing your sales manager not to run the laundry-list sale commercial or the spot insisting that "it's our people who make the difference," why bother arguing about it? Look, that kind of garbage commercial doesn't deserve any of your time or energy. Save both for the clients who are interested in making money with their radio advertising and who are open to input from a qualified, concerned professional.
And take the money you'll save by not buying so much aspirin and Maalox and use it to come to our annual INTERNATIONAL RADIO CREATIVE & PRODUCTION SUMMIT!