Steve Stone, Stone Creative Productions, Inc., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
By Jerry Vigil
Some very talented people have come and gone through the production room doors at K-Rock in New York. Steve Stone is no exception. K-Rock was his last stop before leaving to take a shot at making it on his own, and judging from his list of clients, Steve is doing exceptionally well. This month’s RAP Interview gets an up close look at Steve’s early career and how it formed the imaging and voice-over pro he quickly became. Steve offers some advice for anyone looking to land that “big gig” as well as those of you wanting to bust into the lucrative voice-over market. Steve also shares some mike processing “secrets” that aren’t secrets after this interview, as well as some things he’s found to be most important in the voice-over industry. Be sure to check out Steve’s demo on this month’s RAP CD.
JV: How did you get into the business?
Steve: I got into radio when I was nineteen. But before that, during my whole adolescence, I was really into comic books and illustration. That’s what I really wanted to do when I got out of school was draw comic books. But over the course of a summer I got kind of disillusioned with art and illustration. I don’t know why; I just kind of lost interest. So I was at a crossroads at a young age.
I always liked radio. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay area listening to great stations like KFRC and the original KMEL and the first stages of Live 105. Also at an early age I had done a lot of mimicking — voices and stuff, entertaining the family after dinner in the living room doing impressions and such. Then one day in 1990 I was on my way to a schlock job at a drug store, and I was listening to my Walkman radio. All of a sudden this commercial came on for a broadcasting school. I’d always seen these commercials with these guys, “Hi, I’m a graduate of the Broadcasting School of….” But it was the first time that I hadn’t really laughed at something like that because I was at a crossroads and was thinking I wanted to do something fun and creative. So I went down to this broadcasting school and they had these open tryouts. I gave it a shot and thought personally that I’d done horribly, but this was a brand new school looking for students. And lo and behold I had the proper “qualifications and aptitude” to become a broadcaster. The course was supposed to take like two years, but I did it in six months. I was so in to it. I was so jazzed about radio and everything that came along with it — developing my voice and commercials and being a DJ and everything.
I got an internship at a local radio station in my home town in the bay area in California at nineteen with a great Program Director, who’s still a very close friend of mine to this day. His name is Tim Watts. I think he saw something in me that reminded him of himself at my age, which was a lot of enthusiasm. This was at the end of ’90 or the beginning of ’91 right when deregulation really started effecting radio. Tim taught me all the ins and outs of how the business worked. He tried to burst my bubbles gently, but as quickly as possible, about the business not being all so glamorous. I really had to thank him for that because it got really nasty rather quickly after getting into radio, but it was a great initiation into the business. Tim was a great influence on me and he really opened up the door to the possibilities. He showed me that anything that I can think about doing in radio, I could do. If you wanted to be on the air, you just had to apply yourself.
So I was a jock at first and did overnights on the weekends and would fill in. I would get coffee for the morning show. I did everything. Three or four months later I got a real weekend shift on the station. Then some things changed and there was a mid-day opening. He gave a couple of people a shot at it including me, and I got the mid-day job at the station right after I turned twenty. I thought things were going great. I had just turned twenty and was working full-time in radio making a whopping $10,000 a year. Then literally a month or two after that, the station was sold, the format flipped, and everybody was fired. They kept me around because I could pretty much do all the different things that were required — production, promotions, on-air — and I didn’t cost them a hell of a lot. That was my first experience with radio, and that was all within the course of about six months.
It wasn’t too long after that I realized I liked being on the air, but I actually lived for getting off the air and going in the production room where the other jocks were. But for them it was different. Production for them was a necessity. They had to do it. It was part of their gig. I wanted to do it. I would much rather have given up my air shift to do production than the other way around. So I knew pretty early on that I wanted to do production. I learned a lot from the local guys at the stations. I was able to work with a guy named Lester Temple who’s actually still at Live 105 in San Francisco. He’s the Commercial Production Director there, and he’s always been and still is a big influence on me. He was like the first guy to show me how to do multi-track production when it was still tape machines. Then one day he said, “Hey, I’ve got this great job at Live 105, and I recommended you take over for me.” So he moved to Live 105 in San Francisco and I took over the production job for him at his station. I was barely twenty-one. So it was a pretty fast first couple of years for me, and that’s how I jumped into the world of production. And as soon as I started doing production full-time, I just knew that was what I wanted to do. I loved the fact that I could play different characters. I could do a car commercial, then I could do a drag-way ad and be Mr. Scream, and then do a flower shop and be very mellow. I was in hog heaven… the best time in my life.
JV: What was the next stop?
Steve: I basically realized the fact that you really have to pack up your crap and move if you want to move up. So, I packed up my four or five boxes of crap and drove across country to Ohio and got a job doing mornings and production for a start up alternative station in 1993, and that station lasted six months. Luckily I was able to stay on for a while because I did all the spots and stuff. That’s what really saved me, and that’s always been something I’m glad I learned early — try to be as multi-faceted as possible.
After that I packed and moved down to North Carolina and actually worked with the same Program Director that I did in Ohio. His name is Randy Scovil. We went down to Winston-Salem-Greensboro in ’94 and flipped on the first alternative station down there. I think in our first book we went from a two to a seven share. It was very good times and a lot of fun. Again, being on the air wasn’t really a blast for me as much as doing the imaging and stuff for the station, so after about six months of being on the air I was lucky enough to get off of mornings and do nights and imaging. Then a production position opened up full-time, and after about three or four months of doing nights and imaging I got to be the Production Director full-time. This was at WXRA, which no longer exists. And once that switch happened and I got of the air and started doing production I told myself, you know what, as long as I stay in radio I’m not going to be on the air again. It’s not that I was a horrible disk jockey. I was average at best. It just didn’t do anything for me.
So after doing production there for a solid year it was crazy. There were three stations. I was doing spots and imaging. I was so overworked, and it was nuts. I was making imaging demos on the weekends and sending them out. This is like the mid-90s when the term Imaging Director first started coming about. I sent all these demos out and got a couple of calls back. They led nowhere and I was really getting disillusioned.
Then I got a call from my friend Lester Temple at Live 105. I sent him a demo, and he’s like, “Listen, we’ve got an alternative station that’s signing on in Pittsburgh, and they’re going to need a Creative Director. I’ve passed your stuff on to Richard Sands.” Richard Sands was and still is a very big influence to me as well. I was lucky enough to get flown out for an interview with Phil Manning here in Pittsburgh, the Program Director of The Revolution, and I met with him and Richard Sands and was able to get the imaging job at Revolution. This was the early part of ’96, and that changed my life. That was the best move I’d ever made, even though after being there for a month, the station was sold and everybody got fired. That seems to follow me around, doesn’t it? I was still in boxes when they sold the station to another company. There were two alternative stations here in town. They sold off to the company of the other one and merged and a lot of jocks were displaced. Luckily I was kept on. Gene Romano, who is the head of rock programming for Clear Channel, hired me to stay on at the newly formed X which was the competition for the Revolution before they merged. So I took over imaging for the X and had a blast of a time. I spent four years at the X in Pittsburgh as the Imaging Director, and at the end of 1999 I got a call from Steve Kingston at K-Rock in New York. I was happy in Pittsburgh. I didn’t have any plans on leaving but you know, when New York calls you listen, and I did. You don’t get those calls very often. My wife, Leslie and our son, Jacob moved to New York at the end of ’99. I spent three years at K-Rock in New York to the end of 2002, and I did my best work ever — writing, voices and producing creative for K-Rock with Steve Kingston.
JV: Tell us a little about your imaging style there at K-Rock. What was it that made the hair stand up on the back of your neck when you cut a promo or an ID there?
Steve: What was nice about that time was saying the words “New York.” That unto itself was an amazing feeling. When you did a promo and you’re doing an ID and you were like, “This is K-Rock, New York,” that made my hair go up on the back of my neck. But I’ve always loved mimicry, and I’ve loved parodies. And somebody who does an amazing job of that is Ned Spindle in Chicago. John Frost, the same thing. Will Morgan, Eric Chase. These people are amazing mimickers and they love to have fun with pop culture. And that’s what I love when it comes to a promo.
What really makes my juices flow with promos is great writing. It all starts with that. You can have all the bells and whistles in the world, but if there’s no good script, it just doesn’t go anywhere. And I learned a lot about writing just from listening to works from people like John Frost and Ned Spindle and Eric Chase. They write these stories that sound like novels but they’re 35 seconds long. These guys can take you through a story in 30 seconds, and that’s what's amazing.
And something I learned when I was in New York working with Steve Kingston was writing in sound bites and a thought. If you write a promo that says, “Coming this weekend to Giant Stadium, it’s Metalica.” He would look at that sentence and say, “You can take a bunch of words out of that sentence and still have that sentence make sense.” So instead of saying, “This Saturday at Giant Stadium, it’s Metallica,” it was, “Saturday, Giant Stadium, Metallica.”
My style is humorous. I can have a lot of dry humor. I love self-deprecating humor as well. I love musicality with my production. I love things to have a musical feel to them, whether it’s a beat mixing component in the promo or just a constant forward movement. Using outtakes is one of my trademarks. I used a lot of different voices. When I was in New York I didn’t have the luxury of having a cast of thousands to do voices for me, so I did everything myself. I’d even grab somebody from the hallway, or if I needed a female voice, I was the female voice. I had to teach myself and force myself to become certain characters and certain people, which was a great thing because now I’ve got this great little repertoire of characters that I can rely on for voice-overs and for promos and things.
JV: How did your departure from K-Rock unfold?
Steve: At the end of 2002, my wife and I had a second child, I was working long hours, and it was very hard on my wife being at home by herself with the kids. I really had to come to a decision about what was really important, career or my family. And I really had thoughts, even when I was in Pittsburgh, that I wanted to be in business for myself eventually. So with the encouragement of friends and with Steve Kingston’s blessing, I ventured out on my own at the end of 2002. We moved back to the Pittsburgh area and made roots here, and since the beginning of 2003 I’ve been on my own, working from the basement of my house, my studio at home.
JV: Did you have a number of stations already set up so that you had some sort of cushion when you got out on your own?
Steve: Well, in radio one of the best things I was told early on was to always have a savings account, just in case. My wife and I did a real good job at saving as best as we could. We realized the first six months of the year on our own wasn’t going to be easy, so we tried to be conservative and pull our resources together. I also had some freelance work. When I got to New York I was very fortunate to sign with an agent at the beginning of 2000. His name is Hoss, and he has the Atlas Talent Agency in New York. He’s been a great advocate of my services.
The first six months I was really stressed. I really didn’t understand a lot of the business things. You’ve really got to smarten up when you work for yourself. There was a great article in a past RAP Magazine featuring Mike Carta, who I’ve got a lot of respect for. He was right on the ball when he said, “When you work for yourself you’ve got to be a businessman.” You can’t sit around and watch TV all day because you’re self-employed. You’ve really got to be on the ball because there are other people out there that are doing just what you’re doing and have a head start. And I’m lucky that my wife has a great head on her shoulders. She keeps me in line and also handles the kids. We have three kids now, so she keeps those kids lassoed during the day while daddy’s downstairs sweating behind the mike at the workstation.
But it’s amazing how much learning you do the first year you’re on your own — I mean, things you never realized. What do you mean I’ve got to pay taxes? Don’t you take it out of my… oh yeah, I don’t work for anybody anymore. It’s not that easy, but I find it’s very gratifying because you get out exactly what you put in. You are the business. You’re investing in yourself, and I find that really rewarding.
JV: Did you acquire Hoss, your agent, to help you market your imaging production or voice-overs?
Steve: Hoss markets my voice-overs. I do imaging voice-overs for radio stations. I do voice-overs for television as well – promos for ESPN, CNN, NBC, Discovery Network. I’m doing narration for Discovery Network and National Geographic now. I also do in-flight programming for United Airlines and their new low-fare carrier Ted Airlines.
I’m very focused on radio. That’s my love and that’s my bread and butter, but there are so many other things out there for voice guys to get themselves into. The TV stuff is a huge thing, and I’ve really been blessed this last year to get a lot of TV experience. And it’s a completely different animal because the one thing TV people don’t want is anybody that’s sounds like they’re from the radio circle. You’ve got to really be able to switch it on and off, your different reads. You have to become well versed in different kinds of styles.
JV: How did you learn to do that?
Steve: I’ve taken a lot of one on one instruction from people that I respect. I just recently took a voice-over seminar from a guy named Jeff Bergman. He does a lot of the Looney Tunes voices – Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck. He’s the voice of Charlie Tuna. I also do a lot of correspondence with a lot of people that I find particularly influential for me. I just pick up the phone and talk to a lot of voice guys. I don’t try to bug them or sit there all geeky and ask them silly questions, I just basically ask people if they have the time to listen to some of my work and give feedback. You’d be surprised; people are generally really cool and will listen to stuff. One guy who was very cool to me a long time ago is Joe Cipriano, the voice of Fox and CBS primetime. I sent him a demo and he sent me back this long email, very cool, very positive. Those are the things that I personally get a lot out of, somebody giving you some sort of feedback, letting you know that you’re going in the right direction.
I’ve also gotten really good feedback from people like Howard Parker who is the king of movie trailers now. When I was in New York, Howard was in New York. He and I would have lunch every so often, and it was always great talking to him. I find him really a great inspiration as far as types of reads and that kind of stuff. And another person I find very influential is Ashton Smith who does a lot of the NBC primetime stuff or the NBC drama stuff like ER or West Wing, that very deep, breathy kind of voice.
JV: I keep thinking pretty soon the market is going to get saturated with voice talent, but I keep hearing that there is so much work out there that there’s plenty of room for everybody. Do you agree?
Steve: I was really nervous about getting into it full-time, but a guy that really turned me on to some great thinking was Rich VanSlyke. You want to talk about Mr. Positivity? You call Rich VanSlyke. You’re feeling down and you need a pep talk? You call Rich VanSlyke. This guy is great. I would call when I was in New York. I’d say, yeah, I’m thinking about doing this. He was on his own a year or two ahead of me, and he was always saying, “Listen to me, man, don’t believe the myth. There’s plenty of work, brother. Come on; make the jump. Do it.” And he was right. It’s true. There is work out there. You just really have to hustle and find it. There are people out there who need quality production and voice-overs. Anywhere. It doesn’t matter if it’s the smallest little station in the world or the biggest market in the world. Every client I have I treat the same, and I’m grateful for every client that I have. If they’re in a market that has no ratings and somebody is willing to pay me money to do what I do, that’s fabulous.
But Rich is a really cool guy. He was somebody who kept telling me to stop worrying. It’s going to be okay. He said, “You know what? Six months after you make the jump, you’re going to call me and say, ‘Rich, you were right,’” and I did. And now with the proliferation of satellite radio and Internet radio, there’s a lot of stuff out there — multimedia applications too. A really big thing that I’d love to get my hands into is video game stuff. There are guys doing voice-overs for video games. Joe Kelly, one of the greats, did some voice-over stuff for Grand Theft Auto or one of those games. That’s the fun stuff. You’ve got some eight-year-old kid playing a video game, and it’s your voice annoying the hell out of his parents.
JV: Is voice work pretty much all you’re doing, or are you still doing production?
Steve: 90% of what I’m doing now is just voice. The last six to eight months I’ve really just concentrated on doing voice-overs, but I still do production for a handful of stations. And voice-overs is not something that’s just another skill you can have in your repertoire. You’ve really got to concentrate on it. Just like imaging, you’ve really got to work on it. You have to work on your delivery and your diction and your speech and every aspect of doing voice-over, and it takes a long time. It takes a long time for people to get to know who you are. I left New York after being there for three years, and I sent out demos, demos, demos, and I’d make follow-up calls. I’ll tell you what, man, it’s really humbling when you’ve called a hundred or two hundred stations and you maybe get to talk to two or three people live on the phone. And maybe you get one or two callbacks. It’s very hard. Marketing is a big thing. That’s the hustle. That’s being on the phone for part of your day, sending demos out and keeping up to date with all the consultants. When you get a new demo pressed, you send all the consultants your stuff and make the rounds. It’s a job, but I love it.
JV: Do you use a lot of processing on the imaging voice tracks you send out to radio stations?
Steve: When I first started doing station imaging, voice-overs in the mid-90s, I was so uncomfortable with my voice, and I really hid behind the processing and the world famous Keith Eubanks filtered sound of the late ‘90s. I hid behind that for probably a good year or two until I started realizing that this is just a style. It’s not going to be around forever. And you have to really work and get comfortable with your natural voice because when all is said and done, that is who you are. So before I moved to New York, I really started working on my voice and started using the filter less and less, and I’m really glad that I developed a lot of different reads. I still do a very edgy read if people want that, and if people want a filter I have no problem giving it to them. But 99.9 percent of the stuff I give my clients is flat. I do a little processing on the mike but not much. I try to give my clients the vocal tracks as clean and as unprocessed as possible unless they request differently because most of the people I work with are amazing producers, and that’s their option to be able to do whatever they want to the voice. In fact, you’d be surprised, when you do work for television, they want nothing on your voice. Television is so anti-processing it’s amazing. In fact, I’ve got a separate vocal booth just for TV work because they don’t want any processing. They’ve actually complained when I’ve had some compression and stuff on the mike. Take it all off. Bypass, bypass, bypass. And talk about being self-conscious… when you’re talking on a mike with no processing at all, you’ve really got to have some confidence.
JV: Tell us about your studio in the basement at home.
Steve: Since ’99 I’ve had a Pro Tools rig. I started off with the Digi001 system, which was the real inexpensive Pro Tools, and it was awesome. I was so glad that I got it because it didn’t cost that much money, but it was just as powerful as any system I could have worked with. And it really lasted a long time. I still have it, but it’s unplugged now. Now I use a Pro Tools Digi002, which basically looks like a digital mixer. It’s got flying faders on it and connects through Firewire to the Mac G4. It is fast as lightening and actually turns into a stand-alone digital mixer with a touch of a button.
JV: You mentioned you had a different sound booth for television voice work?
Steve: Yeah. Actually it’s a converted closet that is all soundproofed out. It’s a vocal booth I can use for radio stuff too, but it’s mainly for TV work, and the mike doesn’t really go through much processing at all. It goes through a Focusrite pre-amp right straight to the ISDN box. The mike in there is the Sennheiser MKH416.
JV: And for the radio stuff, do you have a different booth for that?
Steve: No. My studio is not that big. I’ve got soundproofing in the room, and it’s also got a drop ceiling, which does a great job of soundproofing. So I’ve got a very quiet studio. The only thing that makes noise is, sometimes you’ll hear the kids running upstairs. But my clients are very cool. In fact, my client in Tucson has actually taken my outtakes of me yelling at my kids and has put them in the promos. “Quiet down up there!”
JV: What mike and processing are you using for your radio voice work?
Steve: If I told you the mike and processing chain I have set up for radio you’d probably laugh because it is quite inexpensive. It’s been one of those secrets I really haven’t said much to anybody about. But I don’t care. It’s such an awesome setup. Before I got this setup I was using the Focusrite Platinum Voicemaster Pro, which is what I use for the TV stuff now, but I just use the mike preamp. It’s got a lot of nice knobs and stuff that are lit but not engaged. I had a Neumann U87 at K-Rock, which was great, but I couldn’t afford a $3000 mike when I left. So I had a great tube mike, an Alesis GTAM61 tube mike which looks like a Neumann — silver, long, real nice — and it has a nice warm sound to it. I used that for a long time until I got the shotgun mike from Sennheiser, and I was using that for probably about six months with radio stuff. It’s got a nice mid-range kind of crispy sound to it. I got turned on to that mike from Will Morgan out of San Francisco. Will was using that for radio stuff, and I know that a lot of other people were using that for movie trailers and TV. So it’s got a pretty popular following, and I like it a lot.
But I remember when I was in New York somebody was telling me about these Neumann knockoff mikes, and I just wasn’t paying much attention to how good these mikes were. Somebody brought one in to K-Rock and said, “Hey, man, plug this in. Check it out and listen to it.” I did and I was like, wow. It sounded pretty awesome. And I didn’t think much about it until I was on my own and really needed to get another setup to split the TV and radio stuff. So I did some research and called some engineering friends, and they said look into that Neumann knockoff, the MXL. It’s a company called Marshall. They’re in southern California somewhere, and they make microphones called MXLs. I’ve got two different MXLs. I’ve got the MXL 2001, which I was using for radio, and now I’m using the MXL 2003. Now the 2003 lists for like $400, but you can get it from Sweetwater or Full Compass or BSW for like $150. That’s why you’re going to laugh because you’re thinking, oh my god, it must sound like a wet sock. It doesn’t. Let me tell you something. I challenge anybody to go out and just test the MXL 2003. Just go to the music store and A/B it. You’d be amazed how sweet that mike sounds. I’ve gotten so many complements from clients going, hey man, great setup. What do you have? I’m like, if I told you my setup you’d laugh because my mike processing and mike together are maybe $500.
JV: Are you sending the MXL through a Focusrite?
Steve: No. I was at first, but I got a great tip from Ann DeWig. Ann was telling me that her husband is like an engineering guy, and he swears by the dbx 286As. It’s like the standard production room voice-over box. You can buy those things for like $199 bucks. They’re so inexpensive. And you know what’s great about them? They’re simple. You’ve got a compressor and a gate. You have very little EQ on it so you can’t really screw yourself up. But the compression is really nice, the gate is really good, and it’s a simple inexpensive box. And the point is, when I’m doing voice-overs I don’t want to send something to someone that is too polished. That microphone with that processing works for me. It may not work for everybody, but for me it works. Everybody’s voice is different when it comes to microphones. But I’m using it and I’m doing work for Q101 in Chicago, the Planet in San Diego, K-Rock in Seattle. I’m walking the walk with this thing and really believe in this microphone.
JV: The dreams of so many production guys and gals out there is to get to New York or some other major market, and from there to launch their own business doing what they love to do. What advice do you have for these people?
Steve: I don’t know how the hell getting to New York happened for me other than working my ass off. While my friends were going out getting sloshed at the bars, I was at the radio station till 2 or 3 in the morning working on demos, and that’s what it takes. You have to want it. And nowadays, it’s so much easier for a producer to have a place to do their work because you can buy Cool Edit for a couple of hundred dollars or whatever and do production on your home PC. When I was getting my start in radio, the only place you could do the work was at the station. So if you wanted to learn, to work on your skills, you had to be there. It’s different now, you still have to be there, but there’s a lot of learning you can do on your own. And I recommend anybody who’s got a desire, don’t go off and spend thousands of dollars on stuff. You just get a simple little multi-track software system and learn. It’s amazing how easy it is to really get some amazing skills from just goofing around on stuff.
And another thing, never burn bridges. I’m very fortunate. When I left New York, Steve Kingston was an amazing help to me. The first six months I was out on my own he was having me do some freelance stuff for K-Rock. He’s got his own company now, and I still work for him. I do work for his station in Maryland. That wouldn’t have been possible if, when I left there, I left on bad terms. It’s a very small world, this business. You’ll see people when you’re on your way up, and you will when you’re on the way down. You have to remember that. Treat people like you want to be treated, and you’ll be amazed the people that will call you up one day out of the blue, whom you haven’t talked to in ten years, and they’ll say, “Hey man, it’s your old buddy, how are you doing? Congratulations. Guess what? I run a radio station now. I hear you do voice-overs.” And it happens. You’d be amazed.
JV: And then once you’ve made the leap from the station, what advice do you have about doing it on your own?
Steve: Well you have to put into perspective what is important to you. For me it was different. I had a wife and kids. A lot of people don’t have other obligations, so they’re able to just kind of roll along which is fine. In different circumstances I could probably still be in New York. But everybody’s life situation is different. And you know, if I was going to succeed or fail, I had to take that chance. I had to make that leap. I was scared but I’m glad I did it. You really have to work on developing clientele, even if it’s just a couple of stations. You’ve got to really learn about servicing people. You’ve got to learn about how when you do work for somebody and they’re not satisfied, you have to say, “What can I do to make it better? How can I rectify this? How can I make you happy? Let me redo this for you.” There are situations today where I’d do work for somebody and they may not be 100 percent satisfied with it. I’ll redo it. And even if I was going to charge them for the original work, it’s on the house now. You know why? Listen, I need the money, but that person is going to remember that. That client who I’ve had for three or four years is going to understand that I’m servicing them. This client is important to me. I’m a big believer in that. I always tell my clients: You let me know. Don’t worry; I don’t have this big ego. You can call me up and say, “I don’t like this.” And I think clients respond to that. Customer service… number one. You know why? There are twenty other guys waiting in the wings to do it.
JV: What do you love most about what you’re doing?
Steve: I get to be creative. I get to play different characters. Sometimes I don’t even know who I am. Through the course of a given day I get to meet different challenges. I’m working with different people, different mediums — television, cable, Internet, radio. Being my own boss is a challenge. I find that rewarding and fun. Getting to spend time with my kids and my family everyday. I work from home but I get to be with them. I have breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday with them, and that means a lot to me. I get to put my boys to bed every night.