Thursday, April 26, 2012

Versatility is the new black

Way back when, before consultants told News Directors that no one cares about sports, stations had fully staffed sports departments. A weekday guy, a weekend anchor, maybe even a morning show person.

Anyway, true story: We had someone local about to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. And back then, the ND thought nothing of sending crews across the country for stories like this. But in this case, he was stuck. Due to people moving on, etc. he was out of sports people and needed the one guy he had left to cover the newscasts. So he drops by my desk and says, "You're the only one in the news department who really knows baseball. Wanna go to Cooperstown?"

Hell, yeah!

So, because of my versatility (I had been a weekend sports anchor at a previous station) I got to go on a cool trip and do some really fun stories. Ernie Banks even stole my microphone during a standup.

After that, I was occasionally pressed into service when the sports department was shorthanded. Even got to cover Brett Favre's last college game. (This was before he was a diva.)

Point is, you can make yourself more valuable to both your current and future employers by both letting management know you're interested in certain things, like sports or weather. There will always come a day when vacations and illnesses and people leaving will leave a ND shorthanded. Then he'll remember that he has someone who can step in and pinch hit.

And with staffs being stretched these days, an extra talent on your resume can be the difference between getting the job and not getting it. If I'm a News Director and have two candidates that are dead even, and one knows how to do weather, I'm going to pick the one who is more versatile. It's like a baseball manager having a utility player who can play all the infield and outfield positions. Versatility in your staff gives you more flexibility.

If you're interested in something, learn as much as you can and let people know you're interested. It might be something that saves your current job or gets you a new one.


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