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Friday 21 Jun 2024

DJs More Professional
dr george pollard

Over the last ten or fifteen years, a series of scholarly studies have attempted to assess the level of professional orientation of a variety of journalists and a small number of advertising and public relations people. Professionalism was then related to a plethora of other things, including job dissatisfaction, desire for implementation of professional norms, demand for professional education and so forth. These studies share a common heritage, having emerged from the application of occupational sociology theories by Prof. Jack McLeod, of the University of Wisconsin {Madison) and one of his former graduate students, Searle Hawley. McLeod and Hawley were the first to formally measure professionalism among media employees.

With just a couple of exceptions, these studies have used the McLeod-Hawley questionnaire or a modified version thereof. Employees have been categorized as High Professionals (HP) .Medium Professionals (MP) or low Professionals (LP), based on their responses to questionnaire items. Conceptualized as such, more professional media employees (i.e., journalists, advertising or PR workers) are generally more concerned with ethical standards (i.e., formal education, professional organizations), have more education and express more job dissatisfaction (i.e. critical of employer). They are more independent on-the-job, less likely to change jobs or line of work just for more money and are less concerned about money and prestige than are those who are less professional.

This theory tacitly assumes that professional orientation and job performance are positively related; the more profession- ally oriented a respondent, the better his or her job performance. Until an adequate and objective quantitative method for measuring performance is established and shows these two to be unrelated or even inversely related, the more professional a respondent, the better his or her job performance. Un an adequate and objective quantitative method for measuring performance is established and hows to two to be related, I, for one, will assume the positive relationship holds.

Canadian contributions to this literature genre have been limited to those of Don Wright, a former B.C. journalist and now a Professor at the University of Georgia (Athens), who studied both broadcast and print journalists in various sectors of the country. Briefly, Wright found HPs to be particularly discontent with their jobs and desirous of more and better educational facilities and opportunities, including re- fresher courses.

Radio announcers, jocks and talkers, are conspicuous by their absence from the literature, scholarly or otherwise. Until this study was conducted, no consideration of the professional orientation of jocks was available. Not only is this study a watershed of sorts, but it lacks the comparative capabilities so readily available in the established literature. This study, therefore, tends to raise more questions than it answers. In fact, it answers only one question: Can the McLeod-Hawley questionnaire be adequately adapted for use among radio announcers. The answer is, unequivocally, yes.

Sample This study was restricted to English-language announcers working in the private sector of the industry in Ontario. A list of jocks, stratified by market size (small, medium. large) was randomly generated and mailed questionnaires. The response rate was nothing short of phenomenal. Some 74% of the fifty sample members completed and returned questionnaires. Only one arrived late and was not used in the analysis. This response rate is the highest enjoyed by any study of professional orientation. If nothing else, this study uncovered a tremendous amount of interest in and dedication to radio by its workhorses.

A sample size of fifty may appear a bit small. But be assured it's only relatively small. First, it represents 9.2% of the qualified announcers in Ontario. A public opinion poll typically queries less than 1% of the population. Second, the potential error range is from approximately 1.65% to 8.22%, which isn't bad for an exploratory- descriptive pilot study such as this. Third, the sample is stratified by market size, and responses didn't deviate significantly from design stratification.

Because the study was restricted to Ontario announcers, generalizations to all Ontario announcers, from the sample, is valid. Generalization to non- Ontario based announcers is not valid.

Findings First, the modal or composite respondent was a male (the only female respondent filed her questionnaire too late for inclusion in the analysis); 30.5 years old and working in a medium sized market (i.e. 3 to 5 commercial stations). He had been in radio 9.5 years, a jock or talker 8.9 years and with his current station 59 years.

He had worked at 5.4 stations, spending an average of 20 months at each. If tenure at current station is removed from consideration, the composite respondent had worked 4.4 stations over 3 years, spending an average of nine months at each Until entering his current job, the typical respondent was, to say the least, transient. For the composite respondent, his early twenties were spent bouncing around from job to job, so to speak; gaining experience and paying his dues.

The composite jock and talker had at least a high school education. If he attended college or university, he probably graduated, and there's a 50-50 chance he was an R-TV major.

Average monthly earnings ran about $850 from radio, to which is added an average $290 from commercials, narrations, endorsements and so forth. Total average income, therefore, approaches $13,680 per year, which is a hair above the national average. But don't forget, to earn this, a respondent is working the equivalent of 1.5 to 2 jobs.

Politically, the composite respondent is a Liberal party supporter; religiously, he's a Roman Catholic; socially, he is upwardly mobile, having moved from a blue-collar family into a decidedly middle-class occupation.

Professionally, he ranks as an MP who has an equal probability of being dissatisfied, satisfied or very satisfied with his current job and an equal probability of being for or against the implementation of professional norms. He is demanding a more extensive and better quality of formal educational opportunities for broadcasters.

These, then, are the general descriptive characteristics of Ontario private sector jocks and talkers. I leave it to you to draw an conclusions you wish from the data.

Professional Orientation One-third of the respondents were categorized as HPs, two-thirds as MPs. There were no LPs (Low Professionalism) Overall, announcers appear to be more professional than are journalists. This is very encouraging, since the six major studies in the field identified 9.93% of their respondents as LPs. Enhancing this is the fact that journalists have a professional orientation tradition dating at least to Milton's Areopagitica (c. 1644) and a plethora of so-called professional organizations, which are always pushing professional values, norms, behavior and so forth.

HPs tended to be somewhat better educated than MPs, but that's where demo- graphic differences end. This, of course, suggests that professional orientation and education are somehow positively related. I f the professional orientation performance assumption holds, as assumed, and then there is a reasonable chance that education and performance are also positively linked. An intriguing possibility isn't it! Now, if we could just figure out how to measure performance.

As already mentioned, job dissatisfaction split three ways evenly. HPs, however, tended to be slightly more dissatisfied with their current jobs than MPs. Overall, both groups appeared relatively happy with their current jobs. This is supported, in part, by the average length of time in the current job; 5.9 years, vis-à-vis time spent in previous jobs -9 months. You would, I think, expect someone who has been with a station for almost six years to be relatively satisfied.

Interestingly, and probably predictably, income has a solid impact upon job dissatisfaction. The more one earned, the less dissatisfied or more satisfied) they were with their current job. Although not statistically significant in effect, age and education also appear to have some impact upon job dissatisfaction. Younger, more educated respondents, particularly if earning below average incomes, tended to be most dissatisfied with their current jobs. Older respondents, on the other hand, particularly if they had above average incomes and below modal education, tended to be very satisfied with their current jobs. In sum, then, age, income and education appear to affect job dissatisfaction levels which. in turn, have some impact upon professional orientation, transience and, Quite probably, performance. This imputation is less clear- cut in the journalism literature and may be unique to announcing. More research is needed to help clear this up.

Data dealing with implementation of professional norms was, for the most part, muddled and inconclusive. Now that I think about it, such topics rarely emerge in late-night bull sessions. The single exception to this was educational matters. There was an expressed demand for more and better educational opportunities and facilities for broadcasters. The unequal regional distribution of such programs was also criticized. Refresher courses were also demanded.

As noted earlier, Wright, in studying Canadian journalists, found similar demands for more and better educational opportunities and facilities.

Summary On the whole, Anglophone Ontario announcers working the private sector appear more professionally oriented than their peers in journalism. A high response rate indicated an interest in the industry not displayed by journalists and rarely predicted by most observers. Job dissatisfaction appeared to be influenced primarily by age, education and income. There was a particularly high demand for more and better education for broadcasters.

The generalizations emerging from this study paint a somewhat different picture of the announcer than that embodied in the traditional stereotype. Serious questions as to the veracity of the stereotyped jock - egomaniacal, irresponsible. immature and so forth, are raised by these data The jock has. if appears, been grossly underestimated, particularly in terms of dedication to and concern for the industry, and the ability to come to grips with certain essential issues, such as educational opportunities, sample respondents provided considerable encouragement and optimism for the future of the industry.

dr george pollard is a Sociometrician and Social Psychologist at Carleton University, in Ottawa, where he currently conducts research and seminars on "Media and Truth," Social Psychology of Pop Culture and Entertainment as well as umbrella repair.

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