Mitch Todd, Director of Production - Music Channels, Sirius Satellite Radio, New York, NY
By Jerry Vigil
It’s time to check in with that “other” competition… up in the sky. Sirius Satellite Radio began broadcasting just over 3 years ago. They project to have 3 million subscribers by year’s end. Over 120 channels of commercial and commercial free radio, each needing its daily infusion of imaging, promos, commercials, etc. That’s a lot of production! At Sirius, there are two Directors of Production. Mitch Todd oversees the 65 commercial free music channels, and his counterpart, Todd Stack, oversees the others. We hope to visit with Todd Stack in a future issue, but this month we check in with Mitch and get a look at his side of the task. Be sure and check out the production sample from Mitch and his crew on this month’s RAP CD!
Mitch originally hailed from Cleveland Ohio and from 1976 to 1985 he was an on-air personality/producer in Virginia and Atlanta, Georgia while still keeping his hand in music production at various recording studios. In 1986 he transitioned from air personality to Production Director in Atlanta. From 1987 to 2000 he worked as Production Director and Cluster Creative Services Director in San Antonio, San Jose, Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Detroit imaging Rock, Alternative, Oldies and Country. Mitch has been with Sirius Satellite Radio in New York since 2000 and still does voiceovers for radio and television.
JV: Let’s start off with a little story about how you got into the business.
Mitch: Way back in the day — and we won’t mention any exact year — Adrian Cronauer was actually my mentor, the man who inspired the movie Good Morning, Viet Nam. He’s probably best known for that. He was a friend of the family, and as a young boy I watched him and his career. He actually gave me my first break in radio in Roanoke, Virginia, letting me do the overnight weather on an automated FM on Sunday night. He also ran a UHF television station at the time. I was just fascinated with the whole thing. I was fascinated that in radio, as a one man band essentially, you can conceive and execute a concept all on your own. If you have the talent to do a couple of voices and run, at the time, an old Ampex 2-track, you could build a theatre of one, so to speak, and Adrian was very instrumental in that. In fact, in many later years we brought him up to Sirius and had him do a show for, I believe it was either Independence Day or Memorial Day, one of the two. He came up and did a live broadcast. But he really is the one who was instrumental in getting me in this business and giving me the ‘bug’, so to speak.
JV: You also did some music production in your early years. How did that influence you?
Mitch: I’d say that gave me a distinct advantage early on. I worked with actually one of the first 8-track road machines ever made. It was an old Teac 7070. And I did some studio work with eight and sixteen-track studios back in the late ’70s and early ’80s, and that also gave me a distinct advantage in radio production, certainly technically, because as you probably know, in that era radio production consisted of — if you’re lucky — two reel-to-reels and a microphone, and a spring reverb if you got real fancy.
JV: What are your responsibilities as Director of Production for the music channels at Sirius?
Mitch: I oversee thirteen producers, which includes one in-house composer. He’s also a producer, but he has a full MIDI studio, and he’s a musical composer and arranger. I also have an assistant. Essentially, I oversee all of the producers that produce the short form imaging elements, as well as longer form programs that air on the music channels.
JV: Are you getting much hands-on time in one of the studios, or is your day pretty much administrative duties?
Mitch: I actually make myself carve out probably about thirty percent of my day staying in the game. I think that’s vital to the position. Keeping my hands on the controls and on the creative process is vital to staying in touch with what we’re doing. And also, I enjoy it. I still enjoy it very much. I make it a point to make time for this, and in a company this big, of course that’s where the art of delegation comes in.