Q It Up: What people had the most influence on developing your skills, and what are a couple of the important things they taught you?
Bumper Morgan [production[at]boch broadcasting.com] Boch Broadcasting, Cape Cod, MA: Going all the way back to the “one thought per break” concept to “word economy” that has been drilled into our heads all these years, production and programmers have developed many great ideas together. I believe it was Napoleon Hill who first introduced me to the Board of Directors concept that was explained in his book “Think and Grow Rich.”
Here are a few of my favorites: Jack McCoy, Bobby Ocean, Michael Spears, Jeff Colson, Dave Wilmont, Jimi Foxx, Long John Ball, Real Don Steele, Robert W. Morgan, Charlie Van Dyke, Howard Stern, Tony Evans, Marc Chase, Scott Shannon, John “Records” Landecker, John Gehron, Gregg Cassidy, Ron Jacobs, Dan Vallie, Steve Kingston, Bill Drake, Dave Foxx, E. Alvin Davis, CC Mathews, Susan Kennedy... and the hits just keep on comin’.
Outside of radio, I would be nothing in this world without the love of my wife Kim and our 3 wonderful children. With them I learn something new everyday.
Sakis Korovessis [sakiskoro[at]netscape .net]: I’ve been really influenced from people like my brother (who’s also a sound engineer) and the man who taught him stuff. One of the biggest names in sound engineering in Greece who passed away two years ago, Pantelis Deligiannides (former member of ‘60s band “Olympians” and more). Listening to some great stuff since the ‘80s (I’m 26) has influenced me lots. When in Greece, you get lots of stuff from around the globe, from Eastern stuff to European to American. You get to listen from traditional music to really hard knockin’ industrial things and then, the pop stuff.
I learned about using some beats in the background building them up afterwards to the main mix, the VO. frequency “hole,” the Phil Collins effect, how to place correctly the dynamics in the mix, and how NOT to keep everything UP all the time—“What goes up, must come down.” “You have to keep it down, if you want to have them listen to it when it comes up!” Stuff like that.
Ian Seggie [ian[at]q94fm.com]: My first Program Director was always very good in critiquing, challenging and encouraging me to try new things. After just one-year in the business, I sent a demo to The Fox in Vancouver thinking I was ready for the “Big Leagues.” The PD there called me back the next day and told me I wasn’t ready for Vancouver, but he did extend and arm and said, “Keep in touch.” Seven years later, Bob Mills, for 8 years PD of The Fox, has been the guy that’s critiqued, guided and supported my moves every step of the way.
What are a couple of the important things they taught me? Keep challenging yourself; when you produce something you think is great, bounce it off a few others to get some feedback. One thing I learned with anything your produce, you always have to back away from a project because you can “get to close to it.” Walk away, and come back to it because it always sounds different the second time around.
Larry “Kiwi” Boulet [kiwi[at]choi fm.com]: When I started in production 6 years ago, the only experience I had was being a DJ in a local bar. At that point you think you know how radio production should be done. I used to mix everything with the speakers loud enough so they would jump around in the control room. At some point the technician even put some fuses in the back of the speakers because he was tired of changing the speakers. Being a rock radio station, we produce with many different voices, SFX, punches—you know how it is. The best advice I ever had was from my PD at the moment. He told me to lower the sound and think of it as someone in their car on the highway with the heater on or the window rolled down and barely hearing the radio instead of listening to it. And then if you hear everything, it is mixed correctly. Then play it on the 2 or 3-inch speaker there was on our Studer B-67 ¼-inch reel-to-reel, and then and only then, if you still hear everything, put it on the air. I have learned many things since that time like always try to learn and use new technology available. (I have a PD for whom this is very important—the on air playback system as well as prod equipment. ) I smile whenever I tell newcomers in production that same advice. Cheers.
Craig Jackman [craigj[at]canada.com]: I have to start with an un-named guy in college who taught me how to count beats, and how most edits can be invisible if they are rhythmically correct. My former mentor, Jon Crowe, is a huge influence showing me that God is in the details, how to be a professional, how to mix a spot, and to stand up for what you think is right. The biggest influence has to be my Creative partner Renaud Timson. He’s such an amazing person to work with, from helping to take those first wobbly steps to better creative, to learning that the only rule is to break all the rules now and then, to living on the far side of your limits and having fun while jumping off the Creative cliff. Nick Michaels for each word matters, and not to settle for ordinary. Dr Mike Lee at Brown Bag for confirmation that what I was doing was right, and dammit production is important to someone. Joel Moss for proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that a great promo doesn’t necessarily mean 100,000 machine gun effects, explosions, and stuttering. Keith Eubanks (RIP) for filters, and that your main voice doesn’t have to have balls the size of Volkswagens while being swathed in reverb. And every RAP member whose ideas I’ve ... uh ... liberated over the years. Wow, now that I think about it, this list could be endless.
Johnny George [JG[at]johnnygeorge .com], Susquehanna Indianapolis: I learned how quick wit and timing for bits go a long way when I interned at WNTS-AM with David Letterman as the afternoon guy. (He called his show, The Neon Cornfield.) Eric Edwards showed me the best razor blade use when I was learning in the ‘70s at WNAP. (Yes, razor blades were used one time - long ago.) Several PD’s I worked with will go nameless for showing me what NOT to do in programming a station. I learned creative genius had a downside too often from some others whom should also not be publicly hung out to dry. (Geez...do we all work with that many strange people?) My current OM is a programming guru, David Wood. But it would sound too much like I’m blowing smoke to pat him on the back - (so don’t send him a copy please). Besides one I mentioned before, I learned some brilliant jocking over the years first hand from Bouncin’ Bill Baker/WIBC-AM, Buster Bodine/WNAP, Jammin’ John Trout/WZPL, Kevin Murphy/WKLR and some others I’m still learning from.
I consider myself a sponge. I doubt that I’ll ever stop learning. I work right now with two of the best production people in our market. I learn from them everyday. And I thought ‘I’ was the old fart. Keep listening.
Andrew Murdoch [andrew[at]silk.fm], Silk FM, Kelowna, BC: I was fortunate enough to do a practicum with the most down to earth producer on the planet. He was 64 years old and had thrown the switch to sign on his station, and now was only months away from retirement. He focused on being a levelheaded influence within the building, I saw many people daily running to him with their hair on fire, and he always handled everyone professionally and with respect. I felt that the station did take advantage of his good nature in some ways, but he always had a smile on his face and no stress on the job that I could see. Maybe he could see the golf course in his future; I don’t know. But he taught me to try and take the high road in conflict—a ridiculous last minute request from a salesperson, an all out temper tantrum from an announcer or whatever. It didn’t shake him up. And back then I thought he was getting pushed around, but in retrospect he was a clever man able to change a spot start date if it physically couldn’t get done, but he did it in a way that the rep felt good about it. Technical tricks weren’t his thing; others offered me those skills. But learning the fact that as a producer you are smack dab in the middle of station politics and you need to maintain the respect of General Managers, PDs, writers, announcers and even your receptionist to get your job done properly is something that a lot of producers fail to understand. If the meek shall inherit the earth, then Elroy should produce the collector CD.
Rich VanSlyke [richvs[at]bellsouth.net], Rich VanSlyke Productions, LLC, Suwanee, GA: I learned the most from listening to RAP cassettes in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s. They taught me that good promos and commercials can be done in many different styles.
Carlos Montoya [agmaprod[at]live radio.com], KYLZ, Albuquerque, NM: I started in radio volunteering at Christian KLYT. We were still on reel-to-reel at that time, and the Program Director, Peter Benson, showed me all the basics. I worked with a razor blade for a few months before we got an Orban DSE 7000. The switch was pretty easy and I fumbled around with the Orban on my own. I continued there for 5 years taking cues from Peter and the Production Director, Matt Gentry. Matt got me started in basic imaging and other assorted production. I hosted the weekly Top 20 show and had free creative reign over its production, which gave me an opportunity to grow and sharpen my skills. Most of what I learned there came from watching Peter and Matt do their thing in their own unique styles. The biggest thing I got from Peter was the importance of keeping a clear and simple message. Matt taught me how to think outside the box to grab people’s attention. After a few years, they offered me a part-time imaging gig. At that point, I had a huge hunger for all things radio. I was listening to all the local stations to see what they were doing, and that really opened my eyes to what was possible with station imaging.