The Producer Page: August 1997


  • I Can't Believe He/She Said That On The Air!
  • Producer Asks for Advice
  • Winning Producers
  • More Response from Last Month
  • Input Requested
  • Job Openings
  • Hire Me
  • For Next Month...


    From the discrepancy sheet: "18:04 - After entering third package, microphone was not shut off, and the mother of all explicatives was uttered by news anchor. Mic was shut off quickly, talent was warned, appologized on air after package. TD went to get gun." The staff was concerned about an FCC fine, but somehow, after Howard Stern, Mancow, and The Greaseman, is there such a thing as getting fined for profanity?

    In Utah -- a mostly-white and very conservative state -- a station teased stories with "cut-lines" (a few words about each story that ran across the bottom of the video). A story was being "teased" about a clean up effort at a hispanic cultural center in town (likely the only one in town). And the hurried producer quickly wrote the cutline "Spic and Span" --- referring to the clean-up effort -- not realizing the other implication.


    Dear Alice,

    Could you please ask other producers to chime in on how to survive getting canned? While I am over the initial shock, grief, and indignation (how could they do that to me after all those unpaid ot hours I put in???) I'd like advice on how to handle it with prospective employers.

    Thanks for your help.

    (Please respond with GETTING CANNED in the subject line to for publication next month)


    In most of the newsrooms I've been in, there has been a give and take between the news assignment editors/producers and the reporters. Sometimes the conversation gets hot and heavy, passionate and argumentative. It's been my contention that this is a healthy atmosphere...a vibrant long as both parties respect one another. Is this usual in newsroom culture? (please respond with CULTURE in the subject line to for publication next month)


    Quoting a response from last month: "In the future, I would suggest that the producer TALK to the anchor after the show, complement the anchor on taking editoral interest in the program, and suggest that script changes should be DISCUSSED between the two of them before the newscast. However, in the end THE FINAL CALL BELONGS TO THE PRODUCER." (emphasis added) That last sentence is incorrect. Even if the producer is supposed to have that authority, an anchor uncomfortable with the script can simply ad-lib around or omit the offending words. And at many stations an anchor will hold what sounds like the meaningless title of Managing Editor. What it does mean is that the anchor has the final say over what he or she reads on the air.

    In a dispute over something in the script, it's not enough to win the debate, you have to win the anchor over to your side of it or you probably still won't achieve what you want: to get the most informative and clearly written story on the air.

    John McQuiston


    A belated response from Juneau, Alaska to your request for awards brags. I won best feature reporting for my region (Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, Idaho etc (?)) small markets from the Radio and Television News

    Directors Association. The award was for a piece that explored high school gangs in our community. The piece also won a first place award from the regional Society of Professional Journalists. I host and produce local newscasts for Morning Edition on NPR member station KTOO-FM Juneau. Katie Heldt

    HIRE ME!

    Attention News Directors in Texas!!! I'm a producer with three and a half years experience stuck in Oklahoma. I want to get back home to the Lone Star State. I got my start in Lubbock, then moved up Interstate 27 to Amarillo. I'm currently producing a 90 minute morning show in Tulsa. I prefer a regular schedule, as regular as the business will allow, that is, but I will consider morning AP positions in larger markets. Please contact to get in touch with me!!!

    Hire me <please> in Portland or Salem Oregon, where I'm moving in August! I have skills, talent and 20 years' experience in print, radio, television and online news writing, reporting, announcing and production. That includes ten years as a correspondent/editor at a national news agency (wire service). I write! I edit! I report! I talk! I announce! I do voice overs! I even teach journalists about Internet resources and computer-assisted reporting! And I smile :) For further details, please visit my web site at or send email to

    HIRE ME Award-winning print journalist/editor for two decades (writing credits include The New York Times); have also produced, written, directed, shot, and edited documentary videos; seeking position as a tv newswriter leading to field producer, East Coast preferred. If you have any leads or tips for me, please e-mail or call:
    Judy Pokras (212-475-8396)


    The Commandments of Producing

    I figure there'll be more than ten. I'm specifically requesting responses from managers here, but seasoned producers are welcome to chime in. All responses should follow this form: Thou Shalt Not___________________________________ or Thou Shalt_______________________________________

    The 11 oclock producer at my station offered this idea, so please send him your responses at (Ted Wilson). Please sign your submissions, unless you want to be anonymous. And if you want to be anonymous, please say so. For publication in the September issue.