JV: That’s sweet. This leaves you able to focus all your energy on imaging WMMR.
Lush: Yeah, it’s great. And we’re not that territorial. I mean, I’ve done things for the other stations from time to time, and they do things with us from time to time. It’s a pretty open and sharing group of stations here, which is great.
JV: You’ve had your share of doing commercial work somewhere along the line, didn’t you?
Lush: Oh yeah. I’ve done my share of commercial production here. When I came here in 1980, it was just me, and so I did all the imaging and promos and commercials, and that was a long day. It got to be too much. I was brought in to do more creative stuff, and there wasn’t the time. I just didn’t have the luxury of time to do the kind of stuff I was really good at. So, I finally convinced them I was wasting my time doing every commercial for every club in town, and I was able to start farming some of it out to the jocks. Then I got a part-time assistant, and over the years was able to make it a full-time position.
JV: How would you describe your production style?
Lush: Well there is a not a single good answer to that. I think my style is probably eclectic. I do a lot of different kinds of stuff. I like doing simple things. Perhaps a promo has one guy reading. There are a couple of sound bites and then maybe a little music clip under it. But it gels and it works. Other times I’ll do promos that may have music, lots of sound effects, lots of high tech whizzes and bangs and AV Deli kind of stuff. It just depends; the idea kind of drives whether it’s going to be a high tech, highly produced promo or something simple, and this station seems to accept all styles. We can do light hearted goofy stuff. We don’t have to be serious and growling and throwing 100 sound effects in a second to have an effective promo, but we can do that if we want to. So I think I’m really lucky in that way. With this station having been here for so long, people are comfortable with a lot of different sounds coming out of it. So, I have a blank canvas most of the time. I can do what I want.
JV: Sopranos Death Poll was the title of the promo that won the Large Market trophy. Tell us how that promo came about.
Lush: That was one of those last minute things. A lot of us around here are big fans of The Sopranos. It was coming down to the end of the season, there was one episode left, and the show had pretty much telegraphed that somebody was going to get whacked. One of our promotion guys, Ed Marshal, suggested we have a Sopranos death pool, and everybody thought it was a good idea. So we decided to make a weekend out of it. They brought the idea to Kevin and me and Kevin said, “Oh, I know where to go with this,” and started writing. I had the Sopranos on videotape, so I started pulling some sound bites. We all put our heads together and in a pretty short period of time we had the idea for that promo all laid out. Then we needed somebody to voice it. Well, we’ve got this guy in our sales department, Greg Sarotto, who is as authentic a Philly Italian as you can get. He sounds like a character on the Sopranos. If we had tried to do a gangster voice or a Sopranos voice ourselves, it would have sounded funny. But this guy’s the real thing. He’s not an announcer. I spent some time with him and coached him through it. Actually, he was pretty good from the start. He did a great job. So, we put it together and the whole thing just gelled. I listened to it and thought, “This is funny, entertaining, good to listen to,” and it doesn’t have a lot of high tech wizardry in it. It doesn’t need it.
JV: You mentioned AV Deli. Is their material your main source of production music and elements?
Lush: Yes. I have several of their libraries. I like Joe Kelly’s stuff. What can I tell you? The price is right. He seems to understand this kind of radio and other kinds of radio too, judging from what other people tell me. And you get a whole lot of stuff for your money, and most of it is good stuff.
JV: I assume you still have your Pro Tools system at home. Do you do freelance work out of the home studio or take work home from the station?
Lush: I do my freelance work at home, and I’ll take work from here home sometimes. I like the flexibility that working at home gives me. It’s amazing how I can take 8 hours of work home and spread it out over a weekend. You go down in the morning before everybody’s up, do an hour or two of work, get up and have breakfast, watch some TV, do a little half hour of work, have lunch, do a couple of hours of work and spread it out over the weekend. You hardly feel like you worked, and you can get a lot done. I do some freelance, and right now I’m working with Joe Bonadonna at KDKB doing some of their imaging. He was Program Director here at ‘MMR for many, many years. And up until September, I had a job working for Click Radio which is an Internet delivered radio thing, which was really very cool. Unfortunately, that job went away when September 11th kind of killed them financially. It was a shame. It was a good company, good people, good work, and I enjoyed it a lot.
JV: What does a man with 22 years at one station say when asked what his plans are for the future?
Lush: About 8 years ago, our General Manager was talking about the state of the business, and he asked, “Who expects to retire from this radio station?” And of course nobody put up their hands, including me. Now I’m thinking that may be a possibility, but I don’t know. I certainly don’t feel any need to leave here. After 22 years, it feels like home. I really like the people I work with. We have people that have been here almost as long as me. It’s not unusual for people to last 20, 22, 24 years here. I work with a real good group of people, and the station has good respect and good connections in the town. It’s a great place to work and I don’t feel any need to leave here. And if I do retire from here, that’s great. If something better comes along, I’ll look at that if it ever does, but I’m not pursuing it. I love the station, and I love this company.
JV: That sounds like a great place to work.
Lush: I pinch myself everyday. I consider myself very lucky. I know that the business has been a real roller coaster, especially since ’96. We all see the horror stories, but ‘MMR has been able to maintain. Greater Media bought us from Infinity CBS and has really nurtured this station, so my hat’s off to them.