R.A.P. Interview: Anthony McNutt

Anthony McNutt, NewCap Radio, Atlantic Media, Halifax, NS, Canada

Anthony-McNuttBy Jerry Vigil

Radio producers getting into video. It’s a trend. Get used to it. Get ready. You may never need video skills on your résumé, but it’s already as much a plus as being able to write or voice, as well as produce. And if video skills aren’t that important yet, they probably will be. This month’s RAP Interview travels to small market Canada where Anthony McNutt works the familiar full-time radio gig/ freelance biz combo in the beautiful town of Halifax, a market of nearly 400,000. He is a commercial producer and imager for Q104 and Kool FM (NewCap Radio’s Halifax cluster), and partner in Atlantic Media. One aspect of this new trend toward video is that it appears to work in any market size -- no matter where you are, video production is in demand, and  radio producers are in a perfect position to get their piece of the action. We find out how Anthony is doing in this venture, as well as with the challenge of balancing the two jobs. Check out a great sample of audio from Anthony on this month’s RAP CD.

JV: Where did it all start for you and how did you wind up in Halifax?
Anthony: I actually started when I was in grade eleven, here where I live, in Kentville, Nova Scotia on the east coast -- it’s beautiful here of course. I did a co-op program in my high school and hung out at the local radio station for probably six or seven months. After I graduated, I tried to get into the Radio and Television Arts program here in Kingstec, and they screwed up my application and I got accepted for funeral services.

JV: For what?
Anthony: Funeral services.

JV: Okay...
Anthony: Yeah... embalm bodies and makeup and all that stuff. Apparently that’s when you had to write essays and stuff in order to get into the radio course, and apparently mine was so boring that they thought I should go into funeral services.

So, I didn’t do that, and I took business for a year and then got into the Radio and Television Arts program and took that for two years. From there I started doing overnights at what was Magic 97 at the time. It’s now Magic 94.9. This was in Kentville. That’s about an hour and 15 minutes away from Halifax. It’s the local heritage station. There’s Magic and there’s AVR, the Country station. I started on overnights at Magic, and this eventually became afternoons on one station and evenings on the other, so I’d do basically a 12-hour shift -- noon to 6:00 and then 6:00 to midnight.

Then I got into doing cruiser stuff at that station because they needed a cruiser person. So I jumped in and did some creative things, then got into production from there basically starting out loading things off reel-to-reel onto the carts. Then production got a little busy, they needed a second full-time producer, and I got that job there. So I plodded away for six or seven years at that station, and then one day I went down to Q104 Halifax because a buddy of mine worked down there and had talked to the Production Director, which was Trevor Wallworth, and still is. He’s my boss now. I dropped off a demo to him, and he called me the next day and said, “Hey, you want to come down and work at Halifax?” I said, “Sure.” He said, “Here’s what we’re going to pay.” I said, “I don’t really care. I would rather get into a bigger market and a different station, different environment.”

So I went down there and it was really cool. When I started there four years ago, there was Q104, C100, Kool FM, CJCH and 780 Kick. There were five stations owned by three companies in one building. Essentially, NewCap owned two, CHUM owned two, and then they formed Metro Radio Group which owned the third. So we had four full-time producers during the day, and there were three or four producers at night. There were lots and lots of people around to do production.

JV: All these producers for all five stations?
Anthony: For all five, yeah. There were about nine producers for five stations. Just recently we moved out. We took our AM station and sold it to Rogers, and they now operate Light 92.3 in Halifax, and I currently work for Q104 and Kool FM, where I’m Commercial Producer, but I also do all of the Q104 imaging. That takes up my day because they’re seriously busy and heavy into promo work on Q104. The promotions guy there is really, really good -- the creative guy, J. Calnan -- an incredible, incredible writer. I love working with him. He spits out some really creative scripts and lets me run free with them, which is awesome.

And my boss, Trevor, is awesome as well. He lets me pretty much work my own hours. I usually go in 8:00 to 4:00 and get my work done, then when I come home from work I do my freelance stuff, which is crazy busy, and then on the weekends I work for my dad and do his accounting. I’m pretty much working seven days a week.

JV: Tell us a little bit about the Halifax radio market. How’s the competition?
Anthony: The Halifax market is expanding a lot actually. Now there’s Q and Kool for NewCap. There’s the Bounce, that’s a top 40 station, and C100 for CHUM. There’s Evanov; they have Z103 and they just got approved for a second license. Rogers has Light 92.9 and News 95.7. MBS has Hal, another classic rock station and a country station, CHFX. Then there’s a Christian station and a local community station, SC5 FM. So there’s tons and tons of competition in the market. Q104, the station that I do most of the work for, we’ve managed to be like number 1 or 2 -- it’s been us and C100 -- for quite some time which is cool because you don’t often see a classic rock station being really high up in the books. But the Program Director there, JC Douglas, he really, really pushes us and pushes himself too because he clearly wants to succeed well with the station. There’s specialty programming pretty much every weekend. There’s always something different going on, whether it’s a Block Party long weekend or an A to Z weekend. There’s just tons and tons of stuff that he does all the time which keeps me busy with the imaging.

JV: What gave you the idea to get into video? When did that start happening?
Anthony: Well, when I was in Kingstec, the two years that I took the program, we weren’t allowed to specialize in one field, which was good actually because it gave me a good background in both TV and video.  So me and a producer at the time, Jeff DeEll – he’s now a graphic designer at a website company here in the valley -- we decided to start our own company just because there were a lot of clients coming in when we were recording them, and they would always ask us, “Hey, do you know where we can get this done? Do you know where we can get that?” So we said, “Hey, why don’t we just kind of put our minds together and start a company,” which we did: Atlantic Media. This was probably seven or eight years ago.

So we started doing videos. I shot some commercials actually for Q104, and we also do websites and we do imaging. I’m also a producer for David Kaye in LA and Vancouver. He sends me a lot of stuff as well and that’s through Atlantic Media.

We also just started recently getting into more promotional things for the radio stations. There seems to be a demand for stations that want prepackaged ratings contests and different things like that, so we have been developing those as well along with the video.

So essentially, we are your one-stop shop for everything you need, be it imaging with the radio stations or anything like website design, renting out flat screen monitors, creating video information that a store could put up in their store so people could come in and stop by and see a display of something. For example, we do Holland Home Leisure -- it’s a pool and hot tub place here in the valley, and we do their radio creative. We get a guy from BioGuard, a chemical company, to come in. We film these seminars. We put those to DVD. We take those and cut them up into a little sort of PowerPoint video type presentation. Then when they have big sales, they rent the screens from us and put them in their store, and then customers can come in and have a look.

So we basically serve them any way possible with their creative from start to finish, and it seems to be going over well. They know they’re going to get a good product and they don’t have to go through 10 or 15 different people to get all their work done.

JV: It sounds like Atlantic Media is on the right track at a good pace.
Anthony: We started slowly. We started with web design and commercial production, and then we’ve just recently expanded into more. We both have daily jobs. Like I said, he’s a graphic designer and I’m a producer; so it takes up a whole lot of our time, and now it seems to be getting more and more busy as time goes on, which is good.

JV: Are you involved with the video production?
Anthony: Yes. I shoot the video and edit the video; we both do the video. He does all the web stuff, I do pretty much all the audio, and we both share the video. We use Vegas Video to edit, and it’s pretty user friendly. We use Adobe for all of our audio; they’re pretty similar.

JV: Why wouldn’t you just use Vegas for the audio?
Anthony: I started with Cool Edit then switched to Adobe. I find it has absolutely everything I need. I still like 1.5. At work we use 3.0 and there are some cool features in 3., but 1.5 is really, really fast and it does absolutely everything I need to do. At home I still use 1.5 and can zip through audio pretty quickly. I haven’t used the video aspect of Adobe, and I might try that someday, but Vegas seems to be pretty slick as well.

JV: What was the learning curve like for you when you started editing video?
Anthony: It wasn’t too bad just because it’s set in the multi-track the same as audio. In radio and television school we used Avid, which was different, and we used analog editing. We used SAW Pro and SAW Classic for audio. So when I switched over to Vegas it was just a matter of just messing around with it and trying to figure things out.

I’m not a huge technical producer. I don’t read manuals. I would rather just get in there and say, “Okay, how do I do this?” and figure out how to do it. That’s essentially what I do with Vegas. I just shot some video of my own and went and messed around with it and created some different elements.

And the same with Adobe Edition -- I just get some audio and chunk away at it and see what I can come up with, see if I can make it do basically what I want it to do.

JV: What radio skills do you see carrying over into the video production side?
Anthony: Attention to detail for sure. Video is really, really meticulous. I actually sort of transferred the meticulousness from video back to audio. I think a lot of things that I put into my audio production a lot of producers would pick up on and realize how long it took to produce a piece with these layered effects or different elements I’ve incorporated into it.

So attention to detail would be one thing that crossed over from my audio side. Other than that, they’re quite similar, I guess. You sort of tell a story with video the same as you do with audio, so it’s very similar in that sense.

JV: Does it seem that there’s plenty of work out there for a company like yours?
Anthony: Absolutely. The majority of our work is audio and audio keeps me tremendously busy. I mentioned the editing I do with David Kaye. I also do a Christian station in Ontario and Power 97 in Winnipeg and a bunch of different stations across Canada. I do some in Japan and other countries as well, and video. It’s slowly picking up. In this market here, more and more people are realizing that video is a huge, huge tool that they can use on their websites, especially with radio stations. So a lot of radio stations are actually picking up on the video train and they’re filming absolutely everything that they do.

At Q in Halifax, we do Q Tube. Every promotions event we do we’ll go out and film it, and we’ll get it up on our website. After hearing the audio piece live on the air, they can go to the website the next day and they can see the video piece. So stations are picking up on that trend, and that keeps us busy, which is awesome.

And non-radio clients seem to be picking up on it as well, seeing the value in video stories on websites. It just gives the customer a little extra when you go onto the site and click on an installation video of a pool and you can watch it. Or you can go on and find out how you close down your hot tub in the wintertime. The quantity seems to be increasing with time, which is pretty cool for us.

JV: I would guess there’s probably a lot of competition for what you do, particularly with the video side, now that there is more of a demand for video work. Are you finding that you have to really cut your rates, not unlike the voiceover business once everybody got into it; are you finding there’s this glut of video production people out there doing stuff from their bedroom?
Anthony: There are and you’re right. They’re doing it from their bedroom. There are a lot of places that anyone can go to and buy a really good camera now. You can get a really good video editing program and you can say, “Hey, I can do this.” But we have a lot of experience, and we have a lot of work that we can show and say, “Hey, this is what we can do for you.” And if you want to go with someone else, fine.

But it hasn’t really come to that because we sort of bring out the video later in the conversation while we’re doing something else for the client. It never starts out with video. It usually starts out with audio or starts out with a really cool website. Then we add to it.

So video is still sort of an after-the-fact in our business, but it’s always something else we pitch and they’re like, “Oh, really? Well, geez. I never thought about that. I always thought video was so expensive.” And in the grand scheme of things it’s a little more pricy to edit and to shoot than it is audio because it’s a lot more time consuming, but when you look at the product you’re getting and how many ways you can utilize it, then it sort of weighs out and you get your money’s worth I think.

JV: You have a variety of types of videos online on your website -- not just commercials but videos of performances, corporate videos, instructional videos. How do you find these clients outside of the usual radio and TV commercial realm?
Anthony: The majority will hop on the website and see what we can do, and they’ll have an idea that they’ll bring to us and say, “Hey, we’re thinking of doing a type of video like this. Can you do it for us?” And it’s like, “Sure.”

In the beginning we would approach people and say, “We’re new in the business and we want to go out and film this for you, if you’d like, and we won’t charge you for the filming of it and we won’t charge you for the editing of it. We’ll just charge you for the DVD copies.” We were able to do this because we went out and bought a bunch of duplicators and things like that; we have all that equipment as well.

So in the beginning, for lack of a better word, we took it. We pretty much said, “We’re going to do this for you pretty much free of charge,” and they didn’t lose any money because they were selling the DVDs for $25.00, and we were selling them to the client for $10.00. So everybody was making money, and parents had DVDs of their kids’ skating performances or something like that.

Now we’re to a point where we don’t have to do that and we can actually say, “If you want this, we will charge you X amount of dollars for shooting and X amount for editing and packaging and everything else.”

JV: What would it be that you would say Atlantic Media brings to the table that sets you apart from the pack?
Anthony: There are just two of us doing it right now, so you know you’re going to get one of the two of us with whatever you’re dealing with. You’re going to get a consistent product. You’re going to have two people that work in the radio industry and TV industry. I was in TV before I started in radio actually. So you get two people that actually know the industry and know what they’re doing, very professional. We’re going to do everything we can to make sure you are happy with the product you receive.

There’s many times… last night as a matter of fact, I was doing a promo for a station, and there were some small changes that the PD wanted to make, and it’s like, “Sure, no problem.” There’s not going to be a charge for anything like that. We want you to be happy with the product you get, so we’re going to bend over backwards to make sure you’re satisfied.

JV: How is the balancing act working out between the full-time radio job and your work with Atlantic Media? Do you find it overwhelming at any point, or do you feel like you have it pretty much under control?
Anthony: Right now it’s under control. I live in Kentville which is an hour to an hour and 15 minutes away from Halifax. I work in Halifax so I commute every day. I’m leaving the house at about 5:30, quarter to six every morning, so I’ll have an hour to sort of get my day organized in my head as I’m driving to work.

Then I’ll put in my eight hours and image away like crazy for Q, and then on the way home I kind of de-stress from the day and go through in my mind what I have to do for my freelance clients. Then I’ll come home, crack a beer and sit down and start plugging away.

At this point in time it’s busy, but it’s manageable. Like I said, I work for my dad on Saturdays but that’s only a few hours, so from 12:00 on I can do freelance work. Sundays I’ll do freelance work as well, so I get a lot of it done on the weekends and nights.

My studio is in my house so I can pretty much do it whenever I want to. I sort of make my own freelance schedule, and if I don’t feel like doing it, I’m not going to do it, unless it needs to get to the client right away. But for the majority, I guess I’m really good at putting my time to good use.

Right now I have two stations that I’m re-imaging, and that has to be done by next month, but I’ll probably have it done within the next week or so because I just love to image so much. I love to come up with new and unique ways to image. I’m always listening to demos and always listening to other people, trying to get new ideas. It’s almost like my work sort of consumes me at times, but I like it so it’s okay right now.

JV: We’ve seen your name on at least a couple of RAP Awards over the past couple of years. I take it you were the producer on those?
Anthony: Yeah, I was the producer on those. This past year I was a runner-up for a Q Jet promo I did for Q104. I couldn’t believe it. I got the plaque in the mail and I was just like, “seriously?” That was like a highlight for me in my radio career for sure because it’s judged upon by other producers. To have other producers listen to your work and like it is good because other producers actually get what you’re doing and they understand the work that goes into it.

JV: How would you say that Atlantic Media has helped you with what you’re doing for the station? They see that you have this other stuff going on and I’m assuming they’d like to feel that they’re getting their share of you.
Anthony: They are for sure. They’re getting an audio producer, and if they need professional photography done, we do that as well. If they need video, if they need commercials done for the station... boom! We’re in there. We’re doing it.

It benefits them in the long run. I get a lot of creative ideas from other stations in other countries and I’ll say, “Hey, a station in this country was doing a neat promotion. Can we rework it and do it our way?” -- of course, only if it’s not a competing station and if it’s not anywhere near our market. But I get tons of ideas and generate lots of contacts as well for different things like voiceover artists. I’m working with a really, really cool voiceover artist right now on Kool, Jamie Watson. He would be for sure one of my top five to work with. He is phenomenal. And again those are contacts that you get through freelance work because he voices for Power 97 in Winnipeg. So it all comes back and it helps out Q and helps Kool, the stations that I work for. They don’t mind that I’m doing freelance for other stations, even if it’s close to our stations in Halifax. There are a couple of stations I do work for in a nearby town which is only 45 minutes away.

JV: As the Internet continues its growth year after year, and as its appetite for content also continues to grow, video is looking like it’s going to be king for a long time. What’s your sense of what’s coming for people like yourself on the Internet?
Anthony: I think if you’re not on the video wagon -- and I’m not just saying this because I am working on video -- but I think if radio stations and clients aren’t on the web and utilizing video in their website, then they’re going to miss out on a lot of opportunity. Just look at Twitter. Look at Facebook. You look at all of these different things. There are so many stations now that are jumping on the bandwagon. To have all that stuff that you do on air on a daily basis accessible as video that people can actually see is a huge plus. They can put a face to the name of your personalities, and they can say, “Wow! That event that they did was really, really cool.” I’m forever going to the Bears’ website and looking at their really tough contests and all the crazy wacky stunts they do. And I think that listeners are going there too. They have to be. They love the announcers that are on the air and the personalities, and you develop a bond with them through the videos.

JV: What’s in the home studio? Another Vegas studio?
Anthony: I have Vegas, yeah, for video. I have Cool Edit Pro 1.5 for audio. I haven’t upgraded that because I don’t need to. It’s everything I need. Other than that, the sound card, the board, stuff like that... everything a studio needs. I don’t do any voicing out of my studio. The majority of the people just send me the voice tracks, and I’ll whip it together and send it back to them as an MP3 or post it on an FTP site.

JV: How would you describe your style of imaging?
Anthony: I try to be unique to each station I image for and try to not get too predictable with my imaging. I’m a huge fan of Trevor Shand from KROQ in LA -- his style of imaging with quick edits and some character voices. I do a lot of character voices. I do a lot of parody songs and parody bits, just off-the-wall sort of bizarre type stuff that kind of catch people off guard. They’re into a tune and then a bit will play and they’re like, “Whoa! What did I just hear there?”

Of course there’s Dave Foxx. I listen to his tips and stuff on RAP Magazine every month. I listen to a lot of different producers, demos and sort of say, “How can I put my own spin on this?” There’s so many effects that people use and so many things that people do, but I don’t want to be the same as everyone else. I want to have my own style.

So I just sort of inflect my creativity and my own wackiness. I’m a pretty bizarre guy and like I say, I have a few beers at home, the juices start flowing and you get some really crazy ideas. On Q and Power 97 in Winnipeg, you can take your creativity and go to the nth degree with it, and both PDs are fine with it. JC at Q is always loving it. I sometimes wish he would challenge me more because I don’t want to be too stagnant, and I kind of like it when somebody says, “Well, wait a minute. I don’t like this.” I love it when somebody says that because that means I need to go a little above and beyond and make things a little different and make things a little more creative.

JV: Any final thoughts for our readers?
Anthony: I’d like to say how much I appreciate this magazine. It’s a great asset for producers out there. My teacher, David Bannerman from Kingstec, he’s the one that turned me onto it, and every month I’m looking forward to all the articles and Dave Foxx’s article in particular along with his audio pieces that he puts on the CD. And listening to all the producers and their take, how they take something and put it together as opposed to what I would do. It just feeds the whole industry and gives us a good creative outlet to listen to what others in other markets are doing. You hear things from New Zealand and Australia and parts of Canada and the States. It’s just super cool and I appreciate it for sure.

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