Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Pay The Man

We all know that the radio business, particular talk radio is not usually very lucrative. However, the skills one acquires can be put to use in other more gainful endeavours as a story in today's WSJ explains:

Sitting in a small lavender room next to her kitchen, 48-year-old Donna McCarthy leans toward a microphone and says something nobody wants to hear: "Your account is currently past due."

"This is an attempt to collect a debt," she continues, "and any information obtained will be used for that purpose."

Given her soft voice, the voice teacher and former radio talk-show host hardly seems suited to persuading people to pay up. These days, however, business is booming for Mrs. McCarthy and others who record telephone messages that bill collectors use to pursue delinquent customers.

"We need more of them," says Cris Bjelajac, who regularly hires Mrs. McCarthy by the hour for SoundBite Communications Inc., a Bedford, Mass., concern that provides recorded messages to banks, debt-collection companies and cellphone providers. It is now using about a dozen reliable voices to meet the demand, up from just one or two five years ago. The talent is usually paid $100 to $300 an hour for a job that usually can be done in an hour.

The first recorded message to a delinquent customer often comes from what sounds like a young woman who cheerily reminds that a payment is several days overdue. The messages become harsher as customers fall deeper into delinquency, with the bubbly sounding woman often being replaced by a stern male who speaks in short, declarative sentences that are aimed at creating a sense of urgency. Research shows that following up sweet talk with hard knocks is an effective formula, debt-collection executives say.

Sounds like good work. And it pays well. Where does one apply? I need to know. Now.

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