JV: You mentioned imaging guys. Who’s doing the imaging for all four stations?
Ed: Each station has its own Imaging Director.
JV: Wow, that’s a well-staffed facility!
Ed: It really is. And these are all top guys. Rob Naughton images KSHE. Mike Doran images K-Hits, but Mike also is the host and board op for the Bob and Tom Show which is syndicated in the morning on KSHE. Mike does 6 A.M. to 9 A.M. with Bob and Tom and then images K-Hits the rest of the time he’s here. He’s here till about noon or sometimes a little later. Then Rob will come in at noon, because they use the same studio, and Rob images KSHE in the afternoon until he leaves in the evening. Rob also works from home where he has a studio set up.
And then the Point is imaged by Jeff Frisse, and Jeff’s been doing the Point for quite a while. He took over the Point imaging I think shortly after we bought it. He was imaging another station for us, started as an intern actually, and wound up helping out the Imaging Director as an intern and then became the Imaging Director when that guy left. And then there’s Jim Modglin who is imaging the talk station.
JV: Are any of these guys voicing the imaging as well, or are the station voices outsourced?
Ed: Rob voices promos on KSHE, but we have a voice for the sweepers. Jim voices some of the stuff on the talk station, but we have a voice guy for that, too. Jim also has his own company, and he does imaging for stations outside, and on those I believe he does the voice, too. And like I said, all these guys are great. You could take any one of these guys and say, “We’re going to put you in a five-station cluster, and you’re going to image three stations,” and they could do it and sound fabulous. They’ve all got great chops. The stuff they turn out is just fantastic. I’d put it up there with anything anybody’s doing right now. We’re just fortunate enough that at least Rick Balis, who’s our market Program Director, has always felt that each station needs its own image person to create its own identity. When we had five stations, Jim Modglin did image two stations, but that was more because he wanted to do that.
JV: You made the move from mostly imaging to just commercials now. Most production people might want to go the opposite way. Why did you make this transition?
Ed: When we took on the extra signals maybe four or five years ago, we needed to do some restructuring. We needed to do some consolidation in the commercial arena. But we needed to make it better. We needed to do a better job for the clients. We wanted to raise the overall quality and offer more support for the sales staff. I’m not a big proponent of salespeople writing copy.
When I first came to KSHE, the first week I was here, I sat down in a sales meeting and told the sales staff, “From today forward, you won’t write any more copy.” And that worked good for one station, but then of course, as we got other stations, their salespeople were used to writing and so, consequently, I wrote some, they wrote some. But typically, with a salesperson, that’s not what they do and their copy tends to be your typical radio ad copy: “Bob’s furniture is having a sale this weekend. It’s the biggest sale of the year at Bob’s furniture!” So right away you violate the first rule: you don’t lead the spot with the client name.
But anyway, that’s just salespeople jargon. They don’t know. They just take a bunch of information and put it all in what seems to be 60 seconds of copy and there it is; “Let’s put it on the air and we’re all good to go.” I really wanted to get away from that. I wanted to make our group of stations be more responsive in that regard and do a better job for the clients. I just felt that the way for us to maximize our revenue was to try to keep our clients happy, if possible make them happier than any place else that they would advertise, and have them coming back and spending more money. That had been successful for me in my own business of Innovative Productions, working with companies directly on the side and with some small agencies.
If you pay attention and work closely with the client and do a good job for them and help them increase their revenue, then chances are, most of the time, they’re going to turn around and spend a little more. And they get loyal to you because they feel like you’re partnering with them and you’re part of their success.
So that was the idea, to try to create a commercial department that partnered with the clients and contributed to their success, which today is called ROI – return on investment – and really help them get results so that it endears them to the company and makes them want to continue to advertise with us and spend more money the next year.
That was the goal. Then it was time to look at who we have here now. Who can we keep? Who has what strengths and who offers what? Basically, Drew Johnson was here as the Production Director already for K-Hits, and I had worked with Drew before. From a commercial standpoint, Drew’s very strong as a producer and a talent. He has a fabulous commercial read — very national. He also voice tracks the six to midnight shift on K-Hits. The beauty of having somebody of that caliber to do that stuff I thought was really exciting.
With the Point, we kept the person that was already in place. He’s since left but we had that end covered with somebody who could target that audience. Then it was just a matter of each of us concentrating on making sure that we’re taking care of those clients. I’m also a liaison for the sales staff, and I try to encourage the salespeople whenever possible to follow in our philosophy. So, when salespeople come in and say, “Hey. I need this at seven o’clock tonight. Please write something and produce it,” it’s like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Who’s getting served by this?”
Originally, I wanted to centralize everything. I didn’t want to have individuals responsible for different stations. I wanted us to all work as a team. But the team concept is just too hard to pull off when you have separate sales staffs and when you have different formats that have different requirements. It turned out that it was much easier and really more fair to these guys because you’re talking about people who were Production Directors, and now all of a sudden, in a team, they kind of lose that identity, and I didn’t want that to happen. So instead, we basically have Production Directors for each of the stations, and then I head up the department as the Creative Services Director.