The Producer Page: February 1997

IN THIS ISSUE...

  • Salary Survey
  • Can You Help?
  • Funny Typo
  • The Antenna (TV-Related Website)

  • PRODUCER SALARY SURVEY
    by Alice Main, Editor

    Note to everyone who contributed: Thank you for trusting me with this information. I know it's weird to tell me how much money you make. I hope this is a useful tool for everyone who's curious about the range of salaries out there!

    I put some information into ranges to help conceal the producers' identities. Under 'Newscast' you'll find the following codes:

    Morning: anything from 5am through noon, (weekend mornings included.)
    Evening: anything from 4pm through 11pm.
    Weekend: anything from 4pm through 11pm on weekends.

    The individual titles for the other types of producers are so specialized that I'm afraid labeling each would give away the identities of the producers. They include the following titles: pkg producer, commercial producer, segment producer, entertainment producer, documentary producer, special projects producer, investigative producer, live remote producer, promotions producer, series producer, and online producer. In some of those categories, there is only one contributor. For our purposes I'm calling all of the above "specials."

    Years of experience have been turned into groups: 1-2 years; 3-5 years; 6-10 years; >10 years. Keep in mind that I asked for years of experience PRODUCING. A producer with one year of experience in a large market with a large salary might have spent 10 years as a reporter before making the switch, but you won't be able to tell from this table. Also, if you see a question mark, it means the information wasn't provided.

    mkt       yrs       title    salary
    
    1         1-2       AP          40K
    1         3-5       writer      52K
    1         3-5       specials    80K
    2         3-5       specials    70K
    2         3-5       specials    90K
    2         1-2       morning    102K
    3           ?       ?           55K
    3         1-2       morning     63K
    3         1-2       morning     29K
    5         3-5       morning     43K
    5         3-5       morning     43K
    6         3-5       specials    29K
    8         >10       specials    86K
    8         6-10      evening     60K
    8         >10       specials    65K
    8         1-2       specials    54K
    8         6-10      evening     57K
    12        6-10      weekend     41K
    13        >10       morning     43K
    14        >10       specials    65K
    15        3-5       morning     31K
    15        3-5       evening     45K
    15        3-5       weekend     37K
    15        6-10      evening     55K
    17        1-2       morning     27K
    17        3-5       evening     50K
    18        ?         specials    39K
    20        >10       morning     41K
    20        3-5       specials    38K
    21        6-10      weekend     35K
    23        6-10      morning     40K
    23        3-5       evening     30K
    25        3-5       evening     37K
    25        >10       morning     44K
    26        ?         morning     36K
    27        3-5       evening     38K
    27        6-10      evening     35K
    29        6-10      specials    45K
    29        1-2       weekend     28K
    29        1-2       weekend     30K
    30        6-10      specials    38K
    30        3-5       evening     36K
    30        6-10      specials    30K
    31        >10       evening     44K
    32        3-5       evening     40K
    32        10        evening     51K
    34        3-5       evening     32K  
    35        3-5       weekend     40K
    36        3-5       morning     39K
    36        >10       evening     41K
    43        3-5       evening     32K
    45        5-10      evening     24K
    45        1-2       morning     26K
    48        3-5       evening     37K
    49        1-2       morning     25K
    49        6-10      evening     35K
    ~50       1-2       specials    18K
    62        1-2       noon        20K
    62        1-2       evening     19K
    62        1-2       evening     23K
    63        3-5       evening     35K
    64        1-2       evening     25K
    64        3-5       evening     23K
    64        1-2       evening     27K
    64        1-2       evening     27K
    67        3-5       evening     30K
    67        1-2       special     20K
    74        1-2       evening     22K
    77        >10       ?           36K
    79        1-2       evening     30K
    79        3-5       evening     37K
    83        3-5       specials    30K
    85        1-2       evening     23K
    90        ??        evening     16K
    98        6-10      evening     36K
    100       1-2       specials    25K
    101       3-5       specials    29K
    101       ??        specials    34K
    101       ??        specials    52K
    102       1-2       weekends    17K
    103       >10       specials    34K
    106       1-2       evening     19K
    115       3-5       evening     22K
    116       1-2       evening     19K
    125       1-2       morning     20K
    129       1-2       morning     30K
    130       6-10      evening     36K
    152       1-2       evening     19K
    155       3-5       evening     27K
    191       2         evening     14K
    ===========================================
    nat'l cable     3-5     special         45K
    syndicator      6-10    special         37K
    nat'l cable     >10     special         59K
    synd tv mag     >10     special         95K
    nat'l cable     3-5     special         34K
    nat'l cable     6-10    special         72K
    nat'l cable     >10     special         75K
    
    

    For related information on producer salaries as of 1994, go to http://www.missouri.edu/~jourvs/index.html

    It's Vernon Stone's national survey. The information there is presented in averages and medians.


    CAN YOU HELP?

    Subscribers ask for advice, often anonymously. If you'd like to offer some help, send it to me and I'll print it in the next issue.

    *Note: unusual circumstances prevent me from running responses to the producer's letter that ran last month.**

    Alice:

    I'm having a problem with my anchors, actually with one of my anchors. It's a problem that I've talked to both of them about, and so far, it doesn't look like there is a solution. Here's the situation:

    I produce the 90 minute morning show in X-city and I am at work by one in the morning. When the problem anchor gets in at 4, he asks if I have a certain story in my newscast. For example, when the woman who accused Michael Irvin and Erik Williams was charged, he wanted to know if it was in the newscast. When I told him it was in the sports package, he insisted that I have it later in the show. He began his protest at the time I print scripts.

    I feel I have very good news judgment, and his co-anchor said I have good news judgment too. When I talked with the problem anchor, he said that he's done it with every producer that he's ever had, and that he will continue to do so. Sarcastically, I even asked him if I should call him at 1:30 in the morning to see what he thinks I should have in the newscast. What should I do, and are other anchors like this?


    HERE IS A LETTER FROM AN ANCHOR.
    (NOT THE ANCHOR FROM THE ABOVE LETTER!!)

    I am a local tv news anchor with extensive producing experience. I currently oversee the producers (many of whom are right out of college with ZERO experience) and try to guide them along. My early morning broadcast is usually where all the rookies start. So instead of focusing on being an anchor, I'm finding I must be a teacher (if I want to feel confident what I'm broadcasting is factually correct, well written, etc.)

    One of the things that disturbs me greatly is the fact that many of these "kids" have less than competent writing skills. I'm constantly trying to explain the difference between active and passive writing, conversational writing, subject-verb agreement, etc. It would be great to see producing -- and even writing in general -- as areas broadcast schools/universities could place greater emphasis. Too often, the facts get lost, the proper initial and followup questions are never asked (gee, I never thought to ask that!!!) and the news judgment is just not there. I'm constantly trying to explain the difference between a state representative and a member of congress; jail vs. prison; pleaded NOT guilty as opposed to "pled innocent."..the list goes on and on. And then, once I get one trained, they're "promoted" to a better shift and I start all over again.

    Because of the shortage of producers, we're seeing on the local level people who have no desire whatsoever to produce who will take a producing job hoping it will lead to reporting or anchoring. The result: we get producers who aren't at all interested in actually producing, don't care if they mess up, have no "ownership" in their product and an on-air product that is substandard.

    Thanks for letting me vent.


    A LINE PRODUCER WANTS SOMETHING A LITTLE DIFFERENT.

    Hi Alice,

    First I want to say that I love this newsletter. It makes me feel that I am not so alone in the crazy world of producing.

    I am asking for some advice. I produce the 5-6 pm newscast for the number station in ___________. I love line producing, but I really think I want to get out into field or special projects producing.

    At my current job, there is no way I can do that. Before I make my next move, I am wondering if anyone out there has some advice about where I should go, or what I should do?

    If there are any field or special projects producers out there, maybe they could give me some advice.

    I would really apreciate the help!


    RESPONSE TO LAST MONTH'S QUESTION ABOUT MOVING FROM RADIO TO TV.

    Alice,

    Just a quick note after reading Darren Reynolds' query in your latest "Producer Newsletter":

    I don't know that there's a guaranteed answer as to how you convince people that your experience on one side of the radio-TV canyon applies on the other.

    I spent 17 years as a radio news anchor and reporter, 13 of them in top-10 markets. Most of my editor/producer colleagues from those years probably thought I did a little TOO much producing from the anchor chair!

    A little over two years ago, I crossed the canyon to television, and realized that while there was much to learn about the mechanics and "feel" of television, a good story is still a good story, and a good newscast is still a good newscast, whatever the medium.

    So my advice to Darren would be to make exactly that point to the television managers he approaches. Deal from a position of confidence: "Not only have I produced television newscasts, but I've mastered a separate medium, and I'll bring an added perspective to your newsroom."

    And don't forget, there are a fair number of companies left where the ability to cross over from radio to TV could come in handy.

    By the way, Alice, I enjoy your newsletter. Although I work as a segment producer on a 3-times-a-week show rather than a daily newscast, it's great to have a place to pick up ideas and see people work out their problems.

    Stan Bunger
    "New Media News"
    KRON-TV/San Francisco


    FUNNY TYPOS
    Anonymous Contributor from the Vast & Snowy Midwest

    Our station recently purchased equipment that allows for fast display of school/business closings at bottom of screen.. without tying up our main Chyron.

    During a recent snowstorm, we had interns help enter the business closings... and entries were coming in fast and furious. Apparently, one of the interns had something else on her mind because this is what showed up on TV:

    "Southside Blowing Center"
    "No Blowing Tonight"

    Obviously.. it was supposed to read "bowling "... but she really messed it up.. twice in the same entry.


    theAntenna: NEWS RELEASE

    The Broadcast Industry's premiere Internet how-to guide, theAntenna, (http://www.theAntenna.com) announces the creation of the "Academy of Internet Broadcasters" and makes a call for Internet/Broadcasting professionals to join.

    CINCINNATI - With the release of its February issue, theAntenna encourages all interested Internet /Broadcasting professionals to join the newly formed "Academy of Internet Broadcasters." "The Academy will function as an appraisal group, reviewing, rating, and ranking television station Websites," said Co-Editor Rick Wessels. Wessels goes on to say, "we have even bigger plans in the future for the Academy, but for now we will get started by having Academy members vote on the sites that have been developed by their peers." Those interested in being members should email Rick at rwessels@theSwirl.com.

    In this month's issue, theAntenna interviews CNN Interactive Vice President and Editor-in-Chief, Scott Woelfel. Scott tells of the challenges of producing Web content for a news giant. The Cybersalesman continues on his pursuit of Web sales dominance. And John Katich gives us a glimpse of how different methods of delivering your station's content may effect your on-line operations in the future. Plus, theAntenna has extended its free job posting area. Email (dnaden@theSwirl.com) or fax (513-241-2440) your job posting to us and we will post them on the site for free. The people you want working for you frequent theAntenna.

    theAntenna, the TV professional's premiere source of Internet-related information is building an environment where TV professionals can learn about the Internet, exchange on-line ideas, and discover Website profitability. Be sure to check out the February issue at http://www.theAntenna.com.