Q It Up Logo 4Q It Up: What do you do when you turn off the DAW and the lights and leave the building? Hobbies? BASE jumping? Volunteer firefighter? DIY freak? Do any of your hobbies or outside activities relate to or compliment your career as a producer/VO talent, and if so, how? What advice or suggestions would you offer others about outside activities?

Rafe Sampson, Sampson Media, Inc: Hobbies? HA! For the past 21 years I have, because of my “job” as a VOA, been fortunate to be able to be a part of all of the sports my two sons were involved in as they grew up. I also have a daughter currently in sixth grade. She has interests/activities other than sports, but I still get to be involved. It’s a fringe benefit of working for oneself that is impossible to put a monetary value on.

I do a lot of hiking (thanks to the dog) through the woods we live in. And there’s golf, which is very similar to hiking, though it involves looking for a small white ball usually amongst trees.

Other than that, I seem to end up back in the studio trying to learn more about video editing, enjoying music, and of course dusting and vacuuming.

Thank Ja for kids!

Kevin Eugene Boucher, WSIU/Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL: In my "downtime" I am often outside hiking in the woods taking photographs. (Even though I have been in radio production since 1981 my other creative passion is photography, and I am often taking photos as I visit nature)

However, an interesting note about my "downtime" pursuits. Even though I am a general assignment reporter at WSIU radio in Carbondale, Illinois, on a regular basis I often produce radio features about the magic of nature, and as a result, even on my "downtime" in the woods, I often bring my Marantz PMD661 so I can record long-form ambient nature soundtracks -- and I often listen to these sounds of nature when I am at my office writing and producing other radio stuff! Radio producing and editing is just something I can't turn off!

Brendan Seeley, KG Country/Newcap: After work it's always nice to stop thinking about work in general. Big fan of getting out and exploring, taking trails and just really unwind. Music is a huge importance to me, so I try to sit down with a guitar or listen to artists I might not have heard before just to really expand my music catalog. The best thing I can suggest is do something that makes you happy, whatever it is, as long as you are able to not take your job home with you, and you can just enjoy your nights. That's what really counts!

DJ Mike, Chris-Mar Studios: After all my work is done I go to the movies once a week and read a good book to get away from everything. I feel to keep "fresh" and not get burned out, time away from work and home helps out.

Brian “BC” Casey, Alpha Media, Dayton, OH: After a long creative week in the studio, I enjoy getting out and hitting the record stores. I'm a huge music collector from vinyl to CDs. My collection has taken over an entire room in my house. I have anything from smooth jazz to country, rock and roll to classical. Music is a big passion of mine. I also enjoy getting out and riding my bicycle on our state’s bike paths. Ohio has bike paths that cross the entire state, and I'm hoping to ride all of them someday.

Dave Savage, iHeartMedia Creative Studio: If your outside activities don’t have at least some impact on your job as a creative, you’re not doing it right. I’m a dad, a Cub Scout leader, a homeowner, a church member, and a husband, among other things. When I need to write a spot that relates to a parent or car owner etc., I tap into those experiences so I can connect with the listener on a personal or emotional level. Same with VO. I’ve tapped into the fear I had driving my son to the emergency room to get the right feel for a read. Or if I’m supposed to be speaking to my wife, I imagine she’s in the recording booth with me and I’m speaking directly to her. The more experiences you have in life the better creative person you’ll be.

Ron Tarrant, SiriusXM Radio, New York, NY: I'm sure most of you never really "leave the studio" at night either. I feel bad for my gf who I constantly brainstorm new ideas and promos with when she's visiting, or over facetime as she's back in Canada still. Some days it's easier to turn off if I'm playing hockey or soccer, but if it's not radio I'm buried in, it's producing and creating music. I'd write and record an album a year on average a few years ago, but like anything, the more responsibility you take on in your main role, the more challenging it is to do anything else at the end of a long day in radioland. I'm sure there is an entire group of us with Pro Tools screens burnt into our heads when you go to sleep at night. Nonetheless, I still try to make this a weekly occurrence in my home studio. New York City never has a dull moment, so it's a nice refresher to get some sunlight and enjoy the vast amounts of sights and events going on nightly -- also hanging out with other industry professionals who share the same passion for radio & music.

CJ Goodearl: I love to SCUBA dive, and play drums (Rush, Van Halen, ya know, OLD  MUSIC.). Both potentially dangerous to critical listening, ie, MY EARS!) I always use hearing protection when playing drums, and make sure I equalize early and often when diving... although as a new diver in 2006 I did puncture my left eardrum, (my fault, tried to force a dive when I couldn't clear, thought I had) fortunately, healed up 100% and now I know better. Annoying for about 6 weeks though! And no, I ain't scared of sharks! Unless we're talking about the "land sharks" that circle the sales dept. floor. (SHOTS FIRED!)

Great distractions and therapy for unplugging the mind and body… I highly recommend both.

Edgar Gomez, Univision Radio, San Francisco, CA: I personally help my church. Part of the congregation is a Radio Internet ministry, which I help them image, program, and produce (this is volunteer work).

I think is very important that we contribute to Society somehow, this could be volunteering for anything from feeding the homeless to visiting elders, any type of volunteering activity is good.

Don Elliot: Levine/Schwab Broadcasting, 1500 AM, Los Angeles, CA: Flying. Only really fun thing that I would add to that is training squirrels and photography trips shooting wild Mustangs in the wilderness -- northern New Mexico is a favorite.

Don Elliot at the cockpit controls

Kate Day, Bell Media, Calgary, AB: Outside of work what do I do?!? When I was getting my toes wet and applying to Radio stations across the country, I would research a band and piece together an audio biography of the selected artist. It helped me hone my skills and keep them fresh before I got my first job.

Q It Up Kate Day1 webOver the years, my interests have swayed from being locked to a computer and a desk, and into the wild world of Roller Derby. When I first started, I tried my hand at skating in a league. I learned the basics, but I’m not player material. I’m now an Announcer for the Local Roller Derby league. I’ve been calling games and tournaments for over 4 years now under the name of Broad Crasher all across the country. I’m using my skills from my trade to entertain and teach the crowd. I’ve called on boutcasts for tournaments and sometimes (for those smaller leagues) I’m the DJ while calling the game. It’s not all that different from radio in my opinion. Plus, I’m proud to say that I’ve won a couple after-parties.

Q It Up Kate Day2 webAt the end of the day, you need to turn it all off and leave it behind. We’ve all had those days where the first 2 times you produce something, they client still wants something different. It’s frustrating because they don’t know what they want; they just know that what you’ve made them isn’t it. Leave all of that behind and find something fun, something you love! My weekends in the summer are full of Roller Derby action or just hanging out with a book and my husband in the sun! Leave the work on your desk and enjoy LIFE! PS the Roller Derby Community is incredibly fun and welcoming. If you’ve never been, find your local league and go to a game!

George Davis, KBXB/KRHW101, Sikeston, MO: I am such a workaholic, it is sometimes hard to just walk away. I have a new home studio that I am constantly working on to improve. When I have down time I am usually at a local craft beer pub taste testing the latest new beer, at softball games watching my bonus daughter, on the golf course, catching a St. Louis Cardinals game on TV, radio or at Busch Stadium, playing with the dog or chilling on the couch.

Nilo Gomes, Maxi Studio, São Luis, Brazil: When I turn off my DAW I try to listen to radio, watch TV, read some information about my professional activities and dedicate myself to time with family. I love going to the beach with my children, taking care of the garden with my wife, and playing soccer with my son. I have a habit of taking a few minutes of the day to research and try to improve my work in the studio.

George Johnson: I came from the other direction to doing R & P. My primary career was in Law-Enforcement. I used a secondary radio & production career to offset the stresses of what a Law-Enforcement Officer (LEO) experiences on a daily basis. When you're a Cop, your five-senses becomes a sponge, and you soak up so much BS that you eventually have to wring it out. And that's when you get into trouble with those bully pulpit medias and politicians. Being a DJ, and enjoying the creative stimulus of writing and producing, gave me an outlet to relieve that stress. I retired in 1994 after a 27 year LEO career. I recommend to all my peers in radio & production to volunteer some of their time to their local Police Depts. I guarantee your insights, and imagination, will grow when you've observed life out the windshield of a gold fish bowl.

My Motto: "Remember!!!! To Make A COP Come; Call Nine-One-One...".

Matt Innes, Southern Cross Austereo, Broadbeach, QLD, Australia: Great question. There was a time I would go home and listen to all the stations in the world to see what they were doing and how they sounded. I realised after a period of time I was burning myself out by doing this, being consumed by radio is tiring!!!

I now turn it all off, and exercise/sport has become my release after work. Before Radio came into my life, I was a nationally ranked Tennis player, so I’ve gone back to that recently.

My wife and I have also bought a house, so fixing up the garden has become a hobby as well (I’m 28 – but I sound like I’m 60 years old saying that!! Haha)

I have these outlets, and now when I return to the station each morning I’m completely ready to take on any challenge with a fresh mind, which I find helps a lot in the production studio.

Chadd Pierce, PierceVoice.com: Well, you've caught me. I don't "do" free time. Okay, that's not 100% true. I like to go into a coma-like state for an hour in front of a movie I've seen a hundred times -- it reboots me. But that's about as far as I'll venture.

Ya know, it's just now hitting me. You've touched on a subject we could all do a little better. I mean, we're not even leaving work anymore. Us computer people can access work from practically anywhere, right? I go home to a studio computer, tablet, laptop. I leave, my trusty email & text will be right there on my phone. Maybe it's time I look at it as work accessing me, instead of the other way around. Maybe it's time to create healthy boundaries and respect taking a break without the pressure of staying up on emails, social media and calls! [slight pause for effect]

Nah! It's all cylinders, baby!! BASE jump one for me, will ya?

Austin Michael, NRG Media, Lincoln, NE: Ha! Base jumping... We should get you a tourist ticket to Nebraska.

This might sound pathetic, but one thing I do is turn on my Xbox 1 and play a couple games with the clan I’m a part of. Laugh if you’d like, but it gives me an opening into the likes, dislikes, and psychology of a younger demo, a better understanding of their culture, from all around the country. Ergo, it helps me write better spots when trying to reach them. And before you laugh, one of our clan members is 64 years old, and another is in his 40s and a budget advisor to the Governor.

I do a lot of cooking and experimenting with recipes and unique food combinations. I’m friends with some of the local chefs, so they help out time to time. I do what I can to support my wife’s insane running regimen of a 5k race almost every week as well as the odd marathon and all the running in between. But I do it from my touring bicycle. Which leads me to another big time killer, cycling. I try to get out a few times every week and put on 20 miles or more each ride. And working on the lawn, landscaping, and re-landscaping when Mother Nature thwarts my best laid plans and best planted shrubs. That’s been a never ending, if not cathartic, job that I lose myself in for hours at a time.

Besides that, remixing music, figuring out new ways to custom create toys and cages for our guinea pigs, and a whole lot of reading. The wife and I both read like a couple of librarians.

Most of all, I try my best to leave work back in the studio. If you can’t do that, you’re not free to be yourself.

Dave Cockram, Indie88, Toronto, ON: I love cult cinema. Obscure movies made outside the Hollywood archetype. I love being surprised and shocked.

I have a new found love for BBQ right now. I have BBQ’d every night for the past 2 months! It’s becoming an obsession.

I’ve also hopped back on the vinyl wagon. Starting to buy records again, which can be a real time/money sucker.

Herrn Chris Speda, Kreatives für Funk & Medien, Germany: After turning the DAW down, I start my BMW F800R and go down the road. When I can get a couple days off, I'm away. Life is too short, to sit at home.

Years ago I did some NLP courses and I found out how my mind really works, staying creative. I need overstimulation. (Some people need a cold shower, or a quiet room.)

Changing the environment as often as I can makes new impressions for me. That's how my mind works. It is very important to understand how to come into a creative flow. For me it's riding down the road ... :-)

Q It Up Chris Speda web

Michael Shishido, 94.7 KUMU, Honolulu, HI: One of the best things I've done is take seriously the concept of rest. Call it a day off, stop day, Sabbath, whatever. It's important to completely step away from your work. What really works for me during that day off is dialing down the mental activity level. If I read, it's for pleasure, never work-related. Not even a book on productivity. I'll read magazines or novels. I also try to ratchet down the physical activity level. Watching movies helps there. Lately, I've added unplugging from social media because that can be a real mental drain that, for the most part, doesn't add to my rest.

Gord Williams: As a rule, I do yard work, fish, and travel a bit. I do the voiceover stuff like a hobby, but as Dick Smyth a reporter of some renown put it (CHUM/CFTR -Toronto) "we broadcasters often do not have time to live life, yet we think we can comment on it or give information about it." Something like that.

I have always felt that to be well rounded you need to go out and be part of whatever it is that you do. So mostly I wander around aimlessly without the tin cup (former profession) and try to be involved in as many things as I can be. Fishing interests me, so I will go hang down by the wharf and find out what people do. Eventually it gets to a state where they stop laughing at my dumb rookie questions and I ask a few good ones.

Similarly I talk to people in situations and sometimes that draws a conversation. I learn a lot from that and get outside of my head space I use in the studio. It can help in creating characters that go into situational things like accents. Accents for me are very situational. I can't just say I am 'doing Italian', I do Lorenzo from the market, etc.

So the more I get out there the more I can do.

Meeting people and finding commonalities is huge to refresh and to enjoy. It has to be sincere and not puffed up stuff that strokes your ego. Okay, it used to for me way back, but I am long gone from the radio scene. I do get stuff particularly on the phone that I should be in it. I then confess, but seldom do I promote myself that way like I used to.

Maybe I delude myself but I feel when the lights are off in the studio, and the equipment is off I am gaining something to draw from when I get back in. Recently I was in France, Holland, my Mom's country Belgium and England. I didn't have much face time with people, but learned more situational stuff. Not sure the value of it for what I do, but experience has taught me it will bubble up to the surface somehow.

Highly recommended to literally get outside of your walls and yourself.

Ken Martin: I restore mono copies of old American Top 40 programs with Casey Kasem to stereo. From 1970 to early 1973 AT40 was produced in mono. With Premiere playing back classic episodes I always wondered why they didn't convert them to stereo. I'm doing that for them now in my spare time. Not just simple edits, my methodology removes the music from Casey's original breaks and it gets replaced with fresh stereo copies of the songs. I was always an American Top 40 fan and finally I get my name attached to the program credits!

Corey Cruise, KLPX, KFMA, KCMT, KTKT, Tucson AZ: A variety of endeavors, hobbies and interests have captured my time outside of work since entering this industry in '88. While my body still allowed, I participated in football and roller hockey leagues for about 15 years. Enjoyed riding street motorcycles in my 30s. Became a global archaeology/history enthusiast in the late '90s and continue to study literature on the subject and have participated in several digs here in the Southwest. Played bass guitar in rock bands through high school - mostly ending in college when it was time to "get serious" about life... by becoming a DJ... Ha! Resumed playing bass 5 years ago (nothing like a 25 year break!) because of an opportunity to play in an established local band. Have had a blast entertaining thousands of locals with our live shows, and even opening concerts for national acts touring through town... ultimately getting PAID for my "hobby".

Playing music again consumes a lot of my free time, is pure pleasure... and is a lot safer than riding motorcycles. It has even led to some closer friendships with a few co-workers, who are also musicians, as we have recently formed a station band capable of performing at station functions. That musical ability has always been a plus over the years in terms of mixing production elements. And conversely, my production experience was quite useful when the band put together a 5-song EP. Fan the embers of your old passions, and discover where the flames take you!


Danny Zamarrón, Video & Radio Production Manager, Atlanta, GA: Typically in an afternoon when I shut the lights off and head home I am big on DIY PROJECTS. I design different patterns and shapes in all types of things in the house from walls to garden and right up to paint choices. I guess that's the production side that I have since you have to choose music styles, voices and effects. I've been doing radio production since I was 18 and I'm in my mid-30s now. When I go to the movies I listen and capture some sounds and even visuals that I can incorporate into my own production because it also serves me as feedback on what kind of reaction people have in certain parts of the movies.

Earl Pilkington, Coast Radio, Australia: After the door to the studios have shut and I have left the building (usually running to the car as fast as I can) I am an afterhours caregiver for our 95 year old grandmother, so at the moment there’s not too much spare time for hobbies and outside activities. But I do indulge in writing in other mediums late at night (currently I am writing a Steampunk action adventure fiction book), and spend what little time I have working on Cosplay props and costumes in the Steampunk vein. And reading. A lot of reading. Not to mention catching the latest pop-culture convention when they are in town. But most of the time I find I am working after hours on the same stuff as I do during work hours, only for other clients here and around the world -- from writing scripts to copy for websites, to consulting with local business. I find that the creativity of working on outside projects helps to quiet the mind. But honestly, I am constantly writing notes to myself about script ideas, ad copy improvements and other notes. I don’t really stop.

My only advice to other copywriters would be to do something different, read everything you can out of hours, even stuff that doesn’t interest you. One line, one word, or idea could spark something that you can use at work and it may just blow your clients away.

Heikki Wichmann, NRJ, Helsinki, Finland: After I leave work, most likely I’ll go home and take care of my kids. But if I’ve time and it’s not winter (sea is not covered by ice) I might go out with some of our volunteer lifeboats.

As Dave Foxx said on some YouTube ITW, his hobby is flying because when you’re flying you can’t think anything else except flying. I think I get quite close to that feeling when I’m coxswain of a lifeboat. Depending on the size of the boat I’m commanding, I have a crew of 1-5 people under my command. Most likely we go out “patrolling” and training, something that’s on the current week’s training schedule. Nice weather is ok, but I like it most when it’s dark and windy, like in October.

So, when I leave my office, I go and rescue people!

Some links to Youtube videos which I‘ve taken or which I’m in:



Al Peterson, Radio America Network, Washington DC: The show isn't really over after the On-Air light goes out. Some of my free hours are eaten up by part-time teaching gigs. I am currently on the faculty roster at Montgomery College in Maryland.

 But when the day is finally done, my outside interests include astronomy, woodworking and luthierie, ham radio (I'm KJ4IVD), theater acting, electronic music and synthesis, writing, and messing around with the Linux operating system. I tried paddle boarding last fall and sucked at it, but I may try canoeing or kayaking this summer.

I also have an odd preference for loud and annoying musical instruments: I own and play a couple of really raucous banjos from the 1920s and took up the trombone last summer. All I need is a set of bagpipes and a theremin and I'll have the entire end of my block all to myself.

My general interests in sound and noise are an outgrowth of my younger passions -- recording technology was always on my scope even when I was a child, and somewhere in my basement is a reel of tape full of farts and burps recorded decades ago by my brother and I (say what you will, farts will always be funny). Even today, I can often be found messing with some kind of recording gear in my spare time.

 I just have to remember to erase the farts before I send it back.

Drake Donovan, Drake Donovan Creative Services: I have a 2011 Camaro convertible that I take to car shows. I’ve found that skills developed in radio like video production and graphic design as well as my promotional mindset have translated to the car hobby. I’ve helped car clubs promote their events by shooting video and designing T-Shirts, posters and flyers for them. I’ve also done radio spots for one club to help them raise awareness for the charity they support that have run as PSAs on a local station and between songs spun by the DJ at the event.

Jordan Taz Lerman, Tazcreative.com, Entercom, Seattle, WA: I'm a car guy, dig driving, washing and working on my 2013 California Special Mustang GT. And animals. It's important to have that escape from the production studio.

Ralph Mitchell: When my day is over, I enjoy the drive home across the bay with my convertible top down. DIY projects with my family keep me busy during daylight hours, and freelance work in the home studio sometimes requires my attention once it’s too dark to enjoy the outdoors. Saturdays, if I’m not doing a remote, we try to make it to the beach to relax. And then up at 4:15 am Sunday morning to warm up to the mixing console at church. (We don’t have services that early, but band practice requires all hands on deck.) So my after-hours activities are a blend of getting away from mixing, but also mixing something totally different. Mixing at church is what started my audio work back in the ’70s. So now that you have an idea how OLD I am, I’ll turn off my typewriter -- uh, computer -- and go nap in the rocking chair in my office.

Steve Wein, KTRS, St. Louis, MO: When I leave the station, my unrelated to work activities include spending as much time as possible on my cruising sailboat, renovating the boat by making boat parts in my workshop, and working in my yard. All of those help me clear my mind and escape from writing, voicing, and producing the high volume spots and promos for KTRS that I have to deal with on a daily basis. 

But since I LOVE what I do, I have my own clients that I do production work for from my home audio and video studio. I branched out into the video and film world about six years ago and started out doing a series of short educational films with my grandchildren in mind. I then completed some documentary films. I discovered that video is just an extension of my audio world. After all, video is just audio with images added on from my point of view, and it keeps the creative juices flowing. We should always be open to learning new technology, new techniques, and new ways of approaching things. If not, we'd all still be working with multi-track reel to reels!

Todd Broady: When I’m not working my fingers to the bone for the MAN, I enjoy golf with my friends. Not very good, but I enjoy it. I like a green yard. To that end, dandelions are my sworn enemy. And I like to homebrew beer. I grow my own hops and try to make it as often as I can. Advice? Find something outside the studio. I find that I’m much fresher and my ears aren’t as tired by having a few hobbies.

Chris Beech, Southern Cross Austereo, Bunbury, WA, Australia: I’m a commercial/Imaging Producer at Bunbury, Australia. 100% sure I’m not the only one, but I play in a band! I’ll get out of the studio, go home and have a bit of a practise on the old guitar most nights, always learning new songs and listening to things in a bit of a different way than how I would making a promo or a commercial.

Then once a week I’ll have a band practise, righting new songs and working with other people figuring out what say the drummer is listening out for and trying to get a bit more perspective of how to listen to things in a different way.

Playing music instead of just listening and editing it is kind of essential to what I do. After writing my own songs, I come into work the next day and really get why it’s important to maintain time signatures instead of cutting things wherever I please and hoping for the best, and when producing commercials seeing the intro, main part (Chorus as I like to think of it), and the outro instead of just looping the same couple of bars for 30 sec (of course the VOs message is the most important part, but if the music works properly people will subconsciously tap there foot to it).

On top of all that it’s great to get work out of my mind entirely for a couple of hours once a week and just do my own thing! It’s too easy to keep work on my mind 24/7.

Ashley Bard: Being part of a leading CHR production team can at times hold a lot of stress. For me, dropping the headphones and leaving the studio is a very important thing. I have a hobby that distracts me from work and that’s cycling. I aim to ride 320km a week. Being locked away in a studio for so long starves me of fresh air, so getting on the bike lets me stock up, and whilst I’m out my mind becomes clear -- it’s just me, the bike and the open road. Therefore this leaves me free to either think up new creative ideas, become inspired by what I see whilst riding or to just take a moment to enjoy the fact I’m not busting a gut in the studio. Downtime is extremely important, make good use of it.