By Dave Foxx
Once again, the fact that this column is written nearly a month before it is published, means that what I’m about to bore you with is dated material. However, it’s something that comes up every year for me, so it probably makes good sense anyway.
The Year-End Countdown. This is one of those projects that I dread and gladly anticipate at the same time. It’s an opportunity for me to really cut loose and do “my thing.” It’s also an opportunity for me to cut loose and do “my thing.” I’ll explain.
Most of you probably don’t produce the entire show like we do at Z100. My experience as a jock was more of a “here’s a stack of records – have a good show” kind of thing. I know many stations do their countdown, if they even have one, live. Well, here we produce the whole thing. Nine plus hours of nothing but produced magic, or so I hope. Of course, nine plus hours (we do the Top 100 of the year) equates to something like 90 man-hours of labor. That sounds like way too much work to me, but I still recommend it. It allows jocks to take some time off while some board ops get a chance to earn some extra cash, and if it’s done right, it packs a powerful programming punch to the holidays. More importantly to me, it’s a chance to really show off to the boss, because I produce the living daylights out of it.
On the CD, you will find a somewhat truncated ‘scoped segment from the show that demonstrates exactly what I mean. I’m beat-mixing, dropping in interviews we’ve had and, in the case of this segment, clips from the top ten grossing movies of the year. Other segments feature interactive polls from our web site that update every time the show airs, nine times over the course of two weeks, recaps of the best “Stupid News” stories and morning show stunts, as well as the top news stories of the year. It’s a jammin’ show, hosted by our afternoon drive jock, Paul “Cubby” Bryant and the ringmaster of our morning show, Elvis Duran, along with several ‘surprise’ appearances by other station jocks. (Carson Daly shows up in this segment.)
Doing it right means a lot of preparation. Save every interview you air through the year, get trailers for all the big movies (most are available on line now), keep every beat-mix intro and extended remix and get the cooperation of your MD, PD, News Director and Jocks. Plus, finding someone to write the whole thing, which is a major task, makes it a year-long endeavor.
If you’re a real glutton for punishment, I am posting the entire ‘scoped show on line. Those who are curious about the interactive polls, check out the end of Segment A, then email me for an explanation of how it works. You can get there on your browser at: http://220.127.116.11/countdown/ and click on any segment you want to hear. (The one on the CD is a shortened version of Segment I.)
So, what’s my point in writing this column? If you want to be a hero to your PD, not to mention the air staff, make the suggestion. It doesn’t have to be 100 songs. It could be 40, or even 25. Yeah, it’s a ton of work, but when you stagger out of your production room, you’ll have something to be really proud of and something management will remember when it comes time to talk about money again.