There’s a weather bulletin board I sometimes check out. Today, someone asked about agents. Lots of people in TV use them. I have in the past, though I don’t have one now.

I can never figure out if that’s been a smart or stupid move on my part. Often your ‘value’ to a company is directly proportional to their fear you’ll go elsewhere.

Like all else in life, agents are both good and evil.

They can be good, because agents often hear of openings before you can and they gain entry in newsrooms where unsolicited tapes are seldom considered.

Sometimes they know who is going to get canned – and when. That’s scary, but true.

You are an unknown quantity to a hiring station. An agent brings his credibility and reputation to your name. Choosing an agent whose name you want associated with yours is important. Be repped by a sleazebag and you are considered a sleazebag!

Unfortunately, agents don’t always have your best interest as their best interest. In my case, I was up for a job (a long time ago)… a job I really wanted. Something gave the station cold feet (who knows what) and another of my agent’s clients got the job. I’ve always felt, instead of fighting hard for me, he said – “OK, in that case I have someone else.”

He made a sale for himself and got his commission. That it wasn’t me didn’t impact him. Most agents rep lots of weather people. His job is to make a sale – not necessarily make the sale for me.

An agent makes the bulk of his money on the original offer. If a station offers you $100k and you need $110k (hypothetical round numbers), that additional cash will only be worth $600-$1,000 to your agent. How hard will he fight for that? Most people I’ve spoken to say, “not very.”

This is even more true for non-monetary issues where the agent gains nothing at all. How hard will he fight for more vacation… if he even broaches the subject.

When an agent places you well, he’s worth every penny you pay. Often, however, it’s like making payments on a car you don’t get to drive.

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