R.A.P. Interview: George Robinson

R.A.P.: Does Roger handle some of the commercial production?
George: No. He's got his hands full with the Grease Man. From time to time, when things get kind of hectic, we all pitch in to get the job done, but his primary concern is making the Grease Man a good presentation every single morning. He's probably on the verge of being overworked because he does that, and then he does some promos positioning the Grease Man as well. Sometimes, before he comes in, he may stop at the Falcons' training camp to get some of the players to say some basic endorsement things around the Grease Man. He stays busy.

R.A.P.: You mentioned some interns going into the production rooms to play. Are they actually producing anything?
George: Not really. We have interns come in from time to time, and we've been very fortunate with the ones we've had. Bill Allen, our Continuity Director, has just been wonderful at picking really good interns. And, he's a heck of a guy. He will bring interns into the station and give them an overview of radio. They hit every department, and they work pretty hard in every department. I imagine if you asked any intern after their internship, "Hey, do you want to be in radio?" the answer would be, "Hell, no." They probably have their fill of it because we really work them hard. They help us out in a lot of ways, and I try to bring them in to the production studio when I'm producing promos and stuff. I try to get them involved in small character parts. They've been a great help. and they seem to take an interest in being able to look over your shoulder and kind of get a bird's eye view of some of the other things that go on in radio stations.

R.A.P.: Do any of the jocks do production?
George: Just about all of the jocks have a production schedule where they produce or dub. They're not overwhelmed. The overnight guy is the one who gets inundated with dubs, but pretty much all day parts handle somewhat of a production load. I know that our mid-day guy handles his fair share, and our afternoon guy handles his. Everybody really pulls their own weight and then some. There's an amazing synergy around the station. It's like an ant mound inside there. Everybody is scurrying about really working their abdomens off.

R.A.P.: Who assigns production to the jocks?
George: Bill King, the Continuity Director, is in charge of assigning production to the jocks and following up on that. He also writes ads and gives them to the announcers to produce. I kind of consider him Production Director, even though he says, "No, I'm not." I don't know if he's trying to be kind, but I consider him more of a Production Director than myself because basically what I do is meet with the Program Director every morning and hash out the daily assignments and what kind of strategy and little tricks we may want to put into the promos to make them memorable. I think management would consider the Production Director title severed in half with half of it in Bill's lap, and half of it in mine.

R.A.P.: Are there any particular creative techniques you like to use when producing a promo?
George: That's a hard one to answer because it really depends on what we're doing. I may really dig deep into some bizarre writing technique, or I may depend on sound effects to carry the load. I've always believed the old saying, "a picture is worth a thousand words." I've always believed a sound effect is worth a thousand words, as well, because of the emotion it can evoke. The same goes for music. There are so many different avenues of creativity. It just really depends on what it is you want to accomplish and how you want the listener to remember what it is you're trying to get across to them.

As far as reaching down into your creative soul and finding what vehicle you want to use to get your idea across, basically you just really have to pull from life. I mean, you could have a terrible incident happen to you on your way to work. Later, you're sitting there at your desk pulling your eyebrows out trying to decide what the hell you're going to do with this promo, not realizing that the idea is right there in your own back yard. You can take from what happened to you on your way to work. You can play off things from everyday life. Everybody meets strange and interesting people every day that they can pull characters from and make them interesting enough to be used in a promo.

R.A.P.: Are you a formally trained musician?
George: No, not really. I play by ear, although I find myself developing more and more of an interest in the formalities behind it. Before, I would just fly by the seat of my pants. Well, that sounds fine, but now I'm saying, "Why does that work? Why does that go with that?" My son says, "I want to take guitar lessons." And I say, "Okay. If you want to take guitar lessons, that's great. But you're going to learn the theory first. Then, if you have a feel for it, you'll develop the rest naturally."

R.A.P.: You sound like a well rounded Creative Director, one with a lot of strength in a lot of different areas.
George: Well, when I first started getting into radio, I bounced around. First I worked on the air, and it seems like every station where I worked on the air had a General Manager who said, "Son, you've got an honest face. You need to be out there on the streets telling the story. You need to be selling this product." So here I was working morning drive. Then I'd get off the air to go selling all day. Then I'd come back and produce the spots I sold in the afternoon. Then I'd go to a damn nightclub and spin records just so I could pay for that Toyota Corolla!

Then, lo and behold, one night when I'm coming home from that gig, I fell asleep at the wheel and careened off a telephone pole. Fortunately, the only thing that was damaged was the quarter panel and the telephone pole. But I said to myself, "You need to focus on what you want to do here; you can't run the entire radio station or be everything." But, then you have to make yourself as valuable as you can. You have to develop your interest. If you have an interest as a writer, develop that. If you have an interest as a voice talent, listen to every voice talent that you hear nationally on radio and television and pick up the characteristics that you like about them and use that to develop your own skill. I think one of the most important things is not to try to be somebody else though. You have to develop your own style.

It's good to wear a variety of hats if you can. Although, it takes me from six a.m. to nine p.m. to wear my hats, and then I go upstairs and say, "Honey, what are those kids' names? Who are those kids?"

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