tv production blog




Blog #5


Radio vs. TV Announcing

>>At different times in my broadcast career I did on-air work in both radio and TV.  I spent a number of years working in each medium.

I'm often asked which I preferred -- radio or TV.

If you discount the relative pay (TV paid much more) and the relative "fame" generated by each, I would have to say radio.

>>I'm not sure young people aspiring to on-camera work realize how much of their personal lives they are going to have to give up. 

>>Where I worked in TV I was considered part of the station's "image." The brass at the TV station didn't want me to reflect negatively on that image by dashing to a local store in a ratty t-shirt and jeans -- or, even arriving in some beat up old jalopy. (I had an old VW beetle that I loved!)

Women who worked there felt they couldn't be seen anywhere without makeup and stylish clothes. (At least I didn't have to put on make-up to get a loaf of bread!)

Even so, wherever I went I was being observed. People would want to stop and talk, just for the sake of talking to a "TV person."  I was even stopped in a foreign country by someone who started out saying, "Aren't you...."

Often, people would confuse me with another TV person and call me by their name. (They know they recognize you, but....)

No matter how much of a hurry I might be in, I felt a professional obligation to maintain the image of a friendly, charitable, representative of my TV station -- even to the people who started out calling me by someone else's name. 

>>It was quite different in radio. 

For some time I did a morning radio show in a metropolitan area of Florida.  They call it "morning drive time." In terms of commercial content it was the most lucrative time of the day. 

When I started work at 4 a.m., I had the whole station to myself.  Without people around and with the total run of the station, I could really get a lot done!

In radio it didn't matter what I wore to work, or to the local supermarket. No one knew who I was.

And about the time I was wrapping up my radio shift to go home each morning, others were stumbling into work blurry-eyed, with their whole workday ahead of them!

In radio I also had total control over the on-air effect. In contrast to TV, I didn't have to just hope that a couple dozen people were doing what I was expecting -- and leave me on camera with egg on my face if they didn't. (People tend to assume that the on-camera person was responsible for everything.)

When you are on camera the workings of show to a large extent are out of your hands. You are just one cog in the production gears.

>>True, I did finally settle into TV.  But I soon gave up on-camera work (where I mostly read copy created by others) and moved up to producing and directing.

This is where I felt the real creative control was. As a producer-director I was responsible for everything -- even the announcers.

But, as I've mentioned, people outside of television don't understand this. When my mother found out that I was no longer in front of the camera, she said, "If you work hard, I'm sure they'll put you back on the air."

>>As a producer-director the better you understand everyone's job -- ideally from personal experience -- the more your coworkers will respect you, and the better your production can be. 

 -Ron Whittaker

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