R.A.P. Interview: Casey Van Allen

R.A.P.: When did you build this studio you're in now?
Casey: I guess I did it in 1988. Robert Hyland, who unfortunately passed away last year, will be really missed by all that worked with him. He was a real visionary. He was one of those people that saw a need, saw a way to make a buck on it, and did it. And it paid off for him. When you invest in equipment and people, the dividend is always greater profits. That is partly what is behind the success story of KMOX.

R.A.P.: It is quite a success story. The spring '92 Arbitron ratings show KMOX with a 19.0 share 12+. What did the station do in the summer book?
Casey: I think we went down just a little bit. But we're still two fold above the number two station, and that's the way it has been for the last twenty years or so.

R.A.P.: You attribute this success partly to investing in equipment and people. Elaborate a little on the people side of this.
Casey: People is radio; Radio is people -- bad English, but I think it works. If you've got a losing station, you've got the wrong people. I think we have probably the best group of radio broadcasters in this market. There are some very good broadcasters in this market at other stations; don't get me wrong. But I think collectively...we have some extremely good talent -- Bob Hardy, Jack Buck, Bob Costas. We have Dan Dierdorf! Big people have come out of this radio station, and I'm not just speaking of Dan Dierdorf. Bob Costas does a regular show on the station. Dan Dierdorf is not on as much as he used to be, but he'll make an appearance every once in awhile. Jack Buck is on staff here, and he is here everyday.

R.A.P.: Are we talking about shows that are networked throughout CBS Radio?
Casey: No, these are just local shows. We don't do a whole lot of networking for the CBS Radio Network other than news things like a news feed. However, I believe we are the only radio station in St. Louis that has three satellite uplinks, so we're sort of like the telephone company for radio in town. If anybody wants an audio feed out of this town, it generally gets routed to the telephone company and then to us. Then we put it up on a bird. We do an awful lot of that, especially for NPR and other networks.

R.A.P.: Do you work closely with Bob Costas and Dan Dierdorf?
Casey: I produced the shows when Bob Costas and Dierdorf were here on a regular basis. Bob still lives here, but he commutes an awful lot to New York now. When he was on staff working here everyday, I did all of his syndicated shows -- The Bob Costas Sports Flashback, the Inside Sports Magazine -- I put all of those shows together for Bob and they were on about 150 stations, I believe. I did that for a number of years, and I also put together the John Madden Sports Quiz. All those shows are marketed through Olympia Broadcasting.

R.A.P.: Getting back to the incredible success of KMOX, is there anything else you would attribute the enormous ratings edge to?
Casey: Well, consistency is probably another thing. We've been doing it for God knows how long. Kids have grown up with this radio station, and their kids have grown up with this station. The station has been the same for years with pretty much the same people on the air. Another thing is that we are so ingrained in this market when it comes to sports. We carry every one of our major teams. When the football team was here, the Cardinals, we carried them. We are a sports voice on anything that goes on in this market. We have a complete sports department staffed with a number of people that cover everything in sports. Plus, when you've got talent like Jack Buck, Dan Dierdorf, and Bob Costas in the sports department, how can you not be good? We have the consistency and the talent.

R.A.P.: What about the programming side of the station? How is the station programmed?
Casey: Everything is local. We don't take any network shows. We produce everything here. Every talk show we have on the air is produced here. Every talent has his own producer who helps book shows. And when you've got people, a number of people, all contributing, you're gonna have a better product. That's part of it. And our community involvement -- there's no other station in town that's involved in the community like this station. We take a very active role in every community effort here. You go to some of the shows -- the municipal opera is a big one here -- and you'll see our name plastered all over the programs. You see us everywhere. You'll see our call letters in any sports arena in town. I think visibility is another facet of the station's success.

R.A.P.: It sounds like there's a real magic combination of things working for KMOX.
Casey: There really is, and it's a team effort. I mean, everybody pulls on the rope the same way. If somebody gets sick around here, we all chip in and pull on his share of the rope. This is an unusual situation. At most of the other radio stations I've worked for, there always seemed to be a few people that didn't pull their equal share. Everybody here is hungry to win and stay on top. We very seldom look over our shoulders.

R.A.P.: You mentioned earlier how enjoyable it was working at a number one rock station because of the team effort. Is the atmosphere at KMOX a lot like that?
Casey: Oh yeah, it is, very much so. And we have a lot more employees. I think KMOX employs about two hundred people. You've got a much bigger team here, but it's very much the same. Everybody is given the opportunity to contribute, and I think that's a great testament to the entire CBS Radio division. They are really talent intensive. They really support talent and try to get them to perform to the best of their abilities without giving them any restrictions. I'm sure that anybody that works at a CBS station can say that.

R.A.P.: The studio you are in now is the result of your second wish list. How is it equipped?
Casey: I've got an MCI 8-track, and two quarter-inch Studer reel-to-reels. I've got a -- don't laugh -- Technics reel-to-reel. That particular tape recorder I probably use more than most because it is an isolated loop tape recorder. It's got an incredible start up time. You hit the start button, and it doesn't ask any questions. That's the one I use to do most of the tape to cart stuff. Then I have a DAT recorder, and some cassette machines. That's all the tape recorders.

For processing I have an Aphex II Aural Exciter, a Howe Tech Phase Chaser, an A-Maze triggered compressor which I can digitally trigger, an Eventide broadcast delay, a Wheatstone notch filter, Wheatstone parametric EQ, and a 1/3-octave graphic equalizer that I use to equalize the monitors which I have a 600 watt amp for. I've got an Eventide H-3000B with the new software in it that has two minutes of sample time. I've got an Orban 424 compressor/limiter, a Yamaha SPX-900, a Dynafex noise reduction system, a Symetrix hybrid phone interface, and an Aphex Compellor -- the Phase Chaser and the Aphex Compellor are dedicated to the input of the cart machine. And then I've got Symetrix 528 voice processors for every microphone in here. I use a Neumann U47 mike in the studio. For monitors I'm using the 4425s. I've also got some Auratone nearfield monitors. I've got an SP6 console by Wheatstone. I don't use the meters on the board; I have a phase scope that I use for metering, and it's right in front of me. I also have a dbx spectrum analyzer with a built in full octave equalizer, and I've got a bunch of 99B cart machines. On my wish list for this year is a digital 8-track.

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