Very few in Broadcasting can truly appreciate what it takes to be a Traffic Manager. You won't find a course about Traffic or Revenue Management at any University or College, even those that profess to be among the top 5 or 10 bastions of Communication training. If, in fact, you find any curriculum that offers more than a passing reference to developing, designing or creating a Program Log, and you have found the exception (rather than the rule). OJT, or On The Job training is the primary foundation or starting point for the best of these incredibly creative, detail-conscious, experienced professionals. The best of these artisans tend to remain focused on what lies ahead and seldom are found taking more than an occasional glance in their rear-view mirror.
Keeping aware of what lies in the "windshield" of the evolving digital media requires an understanding of constantly updated software, content delivery options that encompass Radio, Television, the Internet, Mobile technology as well as WiFi, satellite and Networks. What was mastered a decade ago may serve as a very modest foundation to apply to the demands of today and tomorrow.
This month brings our eighth in a series of articles to explore a cross-section of these exceptional men and women, as we interview them in search of "outside-the-
box" thinkers, innovative, or leading the way of working in the new Traffic environment. We all need new heights to aspire to and examples to emulate.
Hello Rebecca, how did you become a Traffic Manager?
"I was about to graduate from SDSU with a degree in Communication/Media Management and was looking for positions in the media industry. I found a continuity position opening at Clear Channel SD so I applied for it. I must have impressed them in the interview as I was hired less than a week after graduating. I started off in continuity for three stations and then moved to Traffic Manager and then Continuity Director. From there I went to an independent company and became the Traffic Director for three very prominent stations in San Diego (XTRA, XHRM and XHTZ) I honestly thought my first job in traffic would be for about a year and then I’d move on to something else, but I’ve been working in traffic for over 11 years now.
Describe a little about your day to day duties?
"I always laugh when I get asked what my day to day job is because unless you are in the industry, so many people don’t know what a traffic manager is. If I only had a dollar for every time someone asked me if I report the 805 freeway. What I tell them is that I place commercials and work on large puzzles every day. Yes, I manage inventory for the three active stations, work with programming, promotions and sales to ensure accuracy of our advertisers campaigns. I oversee the streaming for the three stations and maintain the program logs. But I love to tell people that I just play with puzzles everyday and do everything possible to maximize the revenue for each station while trying to keep the integrity of inventory and the station."
What aspect of being a Traffic Manager do you you enjoy most?
"There are so many things that I enjoy. When I see my bump lists at zero dollars, knowing I managed to place every necessary spot. When I get an email from a sales person that the client is ecstatic with their campaign and it’s working. I’m a people person, so I enjoy working with every department on a daily basis and hearing about all the great things going on with these stations. Co-workers tell me all the time, they could never do my job and not sure how I do it every day and I just smile. I enjoy working these logs and I’m good at it."
What makes you a "outside-the-box" thinker? Does creativity begin on individual or company level? How has adopting new ways of thinking benefited your career?
"I think what makes me an “outside-the-box” thinker is that I’m always reviewing my daily activities and trying to see what can be done more efficiently. I ask myself “What do I think that others in traffic would appreciate seeing?” It definitely starts on an individual level. I knew I was good at this job when after my first three months at Clear Channel, I asked to learn everything. Not just continuity but everything that traffic entailed. My manager was a bit thrown back as she hadn’t had anyone so enthusiastic to learn so much so quickly in a while. To this day, she tells me I was a challenging employee but in the best way possible. She is still one of my biggest supporters and has helped advance my career. Being able to work ahead and be creative has promoted me throughout the years."
What new ideas or procedures (ie: paperless / hubbing / digital) have you developed and what has been the result? Did the changes lead to workflow efficiencies? Challenges? Rewards?
"I’m constantly trying to come up with new ideas that lead to better workflow. We utilize Marketron with our stations, so the new upgrades that we just participated in have been a huge help. Being able to import orders electronically and Network Connect have been a great addition to the program."
Do you feel held back by current software technology? Anything on your wish list?
"My wish list consists of items that would make my job more efficient (things in Marketron, for example that I could see improvements on). Working for an independent company, I’m constantly trying to think and look for ways to improve workflow that is in the realm of our possibilities."
How do you see our jobs as Traffic Managers changing/evolving in the future?
"That’s a tough question…everyone talks about streamlining everything in radio which to me means less people. But no matter what, I think each station needs talented, proactive Traffic Managers to ensure the completion of active campaigns and individuals that are able to handle those last minute crazies! "
Any interesting projects that you are currently working on that you can share?
"My main project lately has been working with Mexico for our required PSA’s. Our Mexico licenses require us to air a specific amount of spots per hour per day and right now Mexico is in the middle of their political window. I’m constantly having to adjust clocks and spots to accommodate these requirements. It’s an even larger more complicated puzzle than normal but I’ve got it down."
Rebecca, How about something that you've dine that was different than the routine or personally just for fun?
"I love to do fun short runs. I have run the Camp Pendleton Mud Run three times and just recently ran the ROC (Ridiculous Obstacle Challenge) Race. My team and I ran it in ballerina tutus, with leopard print pants and shirts that read “I Love SD”. I’m looking into a few more 5k to 10k races that aren’t meant to win medals just have tons of fun and sometimes dress in crazy costumes.
Can't Top a Mud Run... or racing in tu-tus. Thanks Rebecca. Very nice meeting you... and onbehalf of your colleagues in TDGA, thanks for sharing the time with us.