JV: What are your responsibilities as Director of Creative?
Steve: I write a lot of demos and I cast and control all the commercial inventory for this six station cluster. We’ve got four FMs and two AMs consisting of CHR, a New Country, Classic Rock, Light Rock, and then we’ve got a News/Talk and an ESPN station. While I’m not doing imaging for any of these stations, I am doing some promos. But mainly it’s a lot of commercial demos, trying to get new clients on, and I’ve got a pretty good success record of getting new clients on the station with these demos that I’ve produced.

JV: Do you have some help?
Steve: Yes, I do have a helper in my department, and he does a lot of writing. He’s a stand-up comedian who’s turned radio ad writer, and he’s proving to be a very good asset. Steve Franzman is his name, an incredibly talented writer/producer/air talent who’s a pleasure to work with and has a very bright future in radio.

JV: Unlike a lot of the people we interview, you got into radio later in life, around the age of 40. So radio must be like a second career for you.
Steve: Yes. I was basically a musician/carpenter. I had aspirations to make it big in music my whole life, but with a family and the need to put food on the table I was forced to pound some nails during the day, and hit the stage at night.

I actually started playing on stage when I was 14 in my dad’s band. My dad was an unbelievable musician. By the time I was 18 or 19, I was out on the road for several years. Then I came back in off the road when I was probably 22 or 23, settled down and got married and just played local gigs. One of my downfalls in music was I could never decide on what style I wanted to play because I love to play jazz and I love to play rock and I love to play country, which back then was a curse because I could never focus long enough to make it anywhere in one category in music. But now it’s turned out to be a blessing for these jingles that I write. If a car dealership wants a real rocking jingle, I can provide that, or I can do a polka.

JV: Well, you’ve done well, just four years into the business. You mentioned one mentor you’ve had. Has there been anybody else that’s influenced your radio career?
Steve: Yes, a friend of mine that I’ve known since high school, Pete Bunch. He’s president of Spoken Word Images in Greensboro, North Carolina. That’s actually how I found out about Radio and Production Magazine; Pete turned me on to it. He’s a great guy, and he’s offered me a lot of real good insight and good direction in my career and it’s really helped. So if I fail I’m going to go look for him! Yeah, Randall Gower and Pete Bunch have been very instrumental in the progress of my career.

JV: You won two RAP trophies this year, the Best Promo and Best Commercial in the Small Market category. Where do you get your creative inspiration for award winning pieces like these?
Steve: Well, ever since the alien abduction it’s been… no, actually I think inspiration’s everywhere. It’s all around you. I get a lot of inspiration from my kids because nothing in my world is more important than hearing my kids laugh. So I’m constantly trying to be a cut up at home, whether it’s singing a polka or talking in some funny voices. But I see things and I automatically try to make a commercial out of it. One thing I’ve learned in this business is that it’s a delicate balance trying to  make a commercial that the client will like while at the same time making something that will be effective over the air, and third, making sure that the listener doesn’t push the button during the spot break. That’s the balance that I wrestle with, and some of my work will be rejected because it’s a little too over the top – “…come on, reel it in, Steve.”

But I like listeners to want to hear my commercial again. As a matter of fact, that “Eccentrics” commercial that won first place this year actually gets requests. They call in and say, “Hey, play that commercial for me will you?” I don’t know if that’s common or not, but it was flattering. If I can be entertaining and deliver the message and provide the client with results, then I think I’m winning.

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  • The R.A.P. CD - June 2002

    Promos, Imaging and Commercial production from Steve Schippanoski, 100.3 The Q, Victoria, BC; Brian Wilson, KLIF-AM, Dallas, TX; Daryl Bolton, CJSD-FM,...