My mind is a dangerous place. Make sure you wear a cup.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Not quite WKRP, but...

WGOG. Out of Walhalla, South Carolina.

In response to a post I made the other day, Billy suggested I write about my time as a radio station account executive. I was actually working on a post about all the jobs I've had, but this is a better idea. The other post was getting way too long. And if I'm going to write about one job, this is as good a choice as any, for one very different reason.

I sucked at it. It was the only job I ever failed at.

When we moved to South Carolina, and I had the opportunity to go to work for a radio station, I was thrilled. I had been a big radio fan my whole life, and having spent so many years in retail, I was a huge believer in the power of advertising. It was a perfect fit. Or so I thought.

It was a disaster.

First of all, the FM was easy listening music, and the AM was gospel. So I didn't even like to listen to my own station.

Second, you can't take a lifelong yankee from Massachusetts and plunk him down in the middle of Twiddle-Your-Ball-Sack, South Carolina and expect him to be embraced by the general population. I talked too fast for a lot of people. And what was considered hip and clever in Massachusetts was just considered weird in Walhalla. In Massachusetts I had developed the habit of calling people, male or female, "Babe".

That doesn't fly in rural South Carolina.

Third, they already had three salespeople. I was not replacing someone, my position was new. So, of course, all the good accounts were taken. I was left trying to sign new accounts. With people who, quite obviously, didn't "get" me.

Fourth, it was a small county and it was only a ten thousand watt station, so it's not like there was a lot of opportunity anyway.

Fifth, everyone who worked there was a Born Again Christian. Do you know how hard it is for me to watch what I say every minute of the day at work? It's brutal. No cursing, no taking the Lord's name in vain...

What a drag.

It was depressing. I hated going to work. I never, ever felt comfortable there. And I didn't make many sales. It wasn't long before I realized part of my problem was that I no longer believed what I was selling. A rinky dink station like that--we likely weren't doing anyone any good. It's tough to do a job like that if you really have no faith in the product.

And I am not a salesperson. I am not a hustler. If I had to sell cars, or real estate, or anything else for a living, I would starve. People always tell me they think I would be a great salesman because I have an easy, breezy, way with people that doesn't seem fake, and I am quick with a quip. But the fact of the matter is, I am absolutely no good at asking people for money. I have no problem asking a person to give blood, or a radio station to do a remote, or a merchant to supply some coupons for donors, or a company to hold a blood drive. But I can't ask people for money.

Except, of course, when I got in the loan business. But then I wasn't asking for money. I was asking for money back. Big difference.

The only cool part of it was the writing and recording of the commercials. I love anything that allows me to be creative. But it was the only consolation, and a scant one compared to everything else.

Oh, I almost forgot. We got paid once a month. How do you figure out a budget like that?

I quit. Marvin, the sales manager, wanted me to stick it out because he thought I was getting better. But I couldn't stay. It was only a matter of time before my head exploded.

I still love radio. I work remotes whenever I get a chance, and I'm stopping by the new studios of Sunshine Broadcasting on Monday for a tour. I like to be on the radio. I had a blast at the Media Appreciation Luncheon we had last month. But I won't ever work in it again.

Unless I could host my own show. That would rock! Pointless Drivel during morning drive time!


Blogger The Wrath of Dawn said...

I have the same problem with Southerners. I talk way too fast for them to follow. It's cold here. Ya gotta talk fast before your teeth freeze!

11:15 AM  
Blogger Billy said...

So, as I thought, it could be a cool job as long as the station you're pushing is something you can listen to.

Hate to hear you had such a hard time at it, but I imagine I would have hated it too from what you had to say about the conditions.

Thanks for the essay Mr. Fab.

12:36 PM  
Blogger Mr. Fabulous said...

Dawn--Canadians talk fast? Doesn't all the back bacon and Molsen make you logey?

Billy--Yeah, give me a major market top 40 station and I'd kick ass.

Still would rather have my own show though.

7:20 PM  
Blogger Billy said...

Did a show on WFIB 800 am on your dial, that is as long as you lived in the UC dorms or had a place on campus - we had no wattage... It was a blast even without much of an audience.

I think my favorite parts were remotes cuz we had beer trucks and herb; and the music library, it was huge.

7:44 PM  

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