JV: Well you have to love that. Owning the rock format in Philadelphia, that’s pretty good.
Lush: Yeah, I think we’re still pinching ourselves.
JV: Being a veteran prod god, you can probably easily remember the old analog days.
Lush: Oh yeah. I had a 4-track quarter-inch Otari tape machine that used to slow down towards the last 10 minutes of tape. You had to sit there and force the pinch roller up against the capstan. It was pretty bad.
JV: Do you remember when you said goodbye to analog and hello to digital?
Lush: We were on it pretty early. I think it was 1990 when we got a device that was made by a small company in New York called Digital Dynamics. It was the Pro Disk 464. The “464” meant it could be configured from 4 tracks up to 64 tracks. It was a big, huge box full of dedicated hardware and a 660 MB drive for every 4 tracks. These were big huge SCSI drives with two controller cards and a streaming tape backup. It used a Macintosh as the interface. The Mac was basically a remote control for the thing. This was a box full of computers, and it was expensive. I think they were about $50,000 to $60,000 for a 12-track version. They were kind of in a development stage as the product was on the market; it was always changing and always being updated, but they were really good at tech support. I thought it was the best thing in the world. You could edit digitally, slip tracks, save sounds in a sound library and drag them into a session. You could nudge things, but that was about it. There was no DSP in the early versions, no EQ, no compression, no time stretching, none of that. It was just like a big tape recorder that had editing capabilities that you couldn’t do on tape.
But Pro Tools came along shortly thereafter. I think I dove into that in ’95, when it was just to the point where you could get it for about $700 or $800. I think it was called Power Mix. You’d get an Audio Media 3 card for about the same, and you could have Pro Tools in a home computer. So I made the plunge and bought that for myself and loved it. Then I convinced the company that we needed it, and so we bought it for all our studios. We’re Pro Tools all the way.
JV: How many stations does Greater Media have there?
Lush: We have 4 stations that are clustered here, and all 4 are in the same building.
JV: And all the stations are running Pro Tools?
Lush: Yes, one in the main production room and one in the aux production room. There are two production rooms for each station for a total of 8 production rooms altogether. We have a really beautiful facility here.
JV: Eight production studios for 4 stations. That’s the way it should be.
Lush: That’s absolutely how it should be. We’re really lucky that Greater Media devotes a lot of resources to production, and it’s an important thing.
JV: Are all eight Pro Tools systems networked together?
Lush: Well, yes and no. They don’t share sound between them, but they’re all on the same network. So, I can move audio files between the various workstations if I need to.
JV: What are your official responsibilities at the four stations?
Lush: I’m responsible for imaging WMMR. And though it doesn’t say this in my job description, I’m also responsible for taking care of the Macs and the Pro Tools systems because I’m kind of the Mac guy and the Pro Tools guy around here. I’m comfortable with it. I know Macs pretty well. But I don’t know PCs nearly as well, so the IT department pretty much handles the PC based stuff. They have their hands full with that, so they kind of leave me to take care of the Macs, and so far I’ve been able to do that.
JV: An IT department…now that’s something you don’t have at every radio station.
Lush: Well, when you have 4 radio stations with a computer on every desk and two big huge Audio Vault systems... I mean these things are gigantic with double redundancy and offsite backup. It’s mind boggling how big these things are. So yeah, there are a lot of computers around here, and we have two IT guys on staff. We run our own websites, and we have a couple of different networks in the building. It’s a very Internet and computer intensive environment around here.
JV: How are the Audio Vault systems working for you?
Lush: They work really well, but there are things about carts, believe it or not, that I miss, like when I want a cart to change at 9:00 at night, you can just leave it for the jock and attach it to the log and say please change this cart at midnight. With the Audio Vault, you’ve got to get somebody to assign it a cart number and then you’ve got to put it in the system. But that’s about the worst thing I could say about it. Actually, I don’t miss carts that much. I love Audio Vault. We have a backup system so if it hiccups, we just automatically switch to the backup. The system is a real timesaver. You put stuff in quickly, it sounds great, and it’s easy to see what you have online.
JV: Who’s handling commercials for ‘MMR?
Lush: A guy named Kevin Gunn, and he’s been at the station on and off for almost 20 years. He’s left a couple of times to do some other projects, but he has been a part of ‘MMR for many, many years. He was actually a participant in the promo that won the RAP Award this year. In fact, he’s part of most of the promos around here. He’s kind of like my partner in crime.
JV: Do the other 3 stations each have their own production guys and imaging guys?