Thursday, October 29, 2009

Proposition W-9

Radio sales people are almost all across-the-board stupid. They will sell anything to anyone who will buy, even if it so obvious that the promotion ultimately won't work. Even if it is obvious that the audience you're targeting for an event doesn't listen to your station, and the audience you already have doesn't give a shit for what you're pushing on them and will be pissed when you try. All sales people see is the check in front of them. They can't see anything else. This was the case with Festival Latino.

We, as the pop-country morning show, got forced by the higher-ups to dedicating the entire show to Festival Latino - a get together in the park for Mexicans and whoever else wants to come out. That's fine. But those people didn't listen to our station. Us on-air people knew that because we fielded phone calls from our listeners and shook their hands at every damn event in town. And our listeners were generally two things: 1. Not Mexican. And 2. Not interested in Mexican festival. Forgive us for knowing our crowd, but we did. Our sales department didn't.

So to make things fun, since we had to promote Festival Latino that morning, we decided we would over-promote it. We played fiesta music in the background all day and it was my job to intro each segment with a high-pitched "FestivallllllllllllllllllLLLLLLatinooooooooo!" That wasn't the part that was going to get us in trouble. We would get in trouble for keeping it too real.

We said on the air to anybody listening: "Hey! Since it's Festival Latino day, we've decided we are only taking calls from Latinos. Real, live, actual Latinos. If you're one of our regular callers who isn't Latino, call us tomorrow. But for today, it's "Latinos Only" on our phone lines. We want to learn about you. But most of all, we want to see if any of you listen to this station, because none of us here think you do. So call us, Latinos. Call us now."

Nobody called. Nobody called for the first two hours. So to make it fun, we'd answer the phone and say "I think we've got a Latino!" And then we would play the sound of crickets chirping. Then we would remain postive on the mic and say, "We're sure we have SOME Latino listeners. You're probably just being shy. Call us, we'll give you a prize."

Then the phones lit up. But every damn caller was a cacausian listener (most of whom we knew by voice - it's small town radio, you have no idea how many people we knew by the first syllable they spoke.) So as soon as they would speak, we'd interrupt them and yell, "No white people! We said Latinos only!" And we'd hang up on them. Sure, we were pissing them off. But we were pissing them off to prove a point. We actually wanted them to be pissed off because we felt for them. Why should we be forced to alienate the supportive listeners who keep our lights on and our gas tanks full, just to appeal to a group of people who weren't even there? We didn't feel they deserved that, so we gave them that, so our management would see how stupid they were to force that bullshit on us and our listeners. Look, I didn't even really like country music, but I would fight for that audience when they were getting fucked, because they were for the most part really good people who took enough beatings by the world, they didn't need their only radio station doing that to them, too.

So, finally during our third hour we got a call from a guy who said he was a Mexican. We asked him what his favorite country song was, and he said, "Honestly, I've never heard of your station. I'm here on the job sight and some country boys told me the DJ's were begging for a Mexican to call. Here I am!"

Our first question was "Are you legal?"

Him: Nope. I snuck in when I was a kid. That's why I don't sound Mexican.

Us: What's your name? Nevermind. Don't tell us. We don't want you to get deported on our account. We're just glad you called.

Him: It's okay. I'll say my whole name and where I live. They won't come get me. They don't care.

Us: Do you want to become a citizen?

Him: I thought about it, but that means I'd have to drive 4 hours to Charlotte. I really get nothing out of it, and no ones gonna deport me anyway, so I'll stay illegal to save myself a drive. ---------------------------------

But boy did trouble come. Not for the illegal guy. For us radio guys who dared ask questions. We were put through hell by our management and the Festival organizers for daring open up the phone lines to their people and asking a few questions that they didn't have to answer. And of course, we had to make an appearance at the festival, and not one station listener was there. It was all Mexicans and us three guys who the Mexicans had never heard of, nor cared to know. That whole event (at least our involvment) was a waste of everybody's time.

I think they should all be deported and forced to live among the hell that is each other's company. Oh. What? I'm not talking about Mexicans. I'm talking about salespeople.

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