R.A.P. Interview: Bob Holmcrans

R.A.P.: Where would you say your greatest talents lie?
Bob: Definitely organization, and coaching. I am real good at coaching people. I'm real proud to say that I've coached people like Michelle Wright, who was one of our DJs. She started off as an overnight board-op, and I remember coaching her through doing commercials and things like that. Now she has gone to New York City to do mornings.

I remember what I was doing when I first started out and how intimidated and uncomfortable I would get in a production studio. I try to keep that in the back of my mind whenever anyone comes in and stands in front of the microphone, even if they are a very experienced pro that has been in the business for years. When you are on the production side of the board instead of on the mic, you're in a different role. I think you have to be able to put yourself in the place of the person behind the mic and realize where they are coming from, and then try to make them feel comfortable and not threaten them. And sometimes it's hard. If you get someone with a big ego, they don't want to be told how to read a line or read copy. If you can put yourself in their perspective and come across in a non-threatening way, you can coach them through. I think that is one of my big talents.

I also think I'm very clever with a script. I might not always be the best with coming up with the original written script, but once I have the script in my hand, I have a knack of being able to take that and make it work.

R.A.P.: Many times we'll interview a Production Director who has an incredible voice making an extra $75,000 a year on the side, or someone who is cranking out a lot of superb bells and whistles type of production. You sound more like the perfectly well rounded Production Director.
Bob: Exactly. Once in a while it's kind of fun to blow out and do a little bit with the bells and whistles, but it is not appropriate for our station. We keep a low profile on that. I get as much satisfaction out of running the department as I do out of doing a good promo.

R.A.P.: Managerial skills and people skills are real important in this position, and those skills are probably a big part of the reason why you have been able to stay there for seven years. Would you agree?
Bob: Yes. Definitely, yes. Since I made that pledge seven years ago that we wouldn't miss spots, I don't think we have missed a single spot. We've made a mistake here and there, but, once a production order gets on my desk, it gets on the air. And I will do everything I can to make sure that it runs. A lot of being successful at that has to do with management of your time and the people working with you. Another thing I'm good at is teaching new people the basics of production. I'm teaching a course at the local community college in audio production, and there is a recording studio in town that has a course in the business of music. I go to the studio and speak on the radio business and how that relates to the music industry.

R.A.P.: What kinds of things do you teach in the class at the community college?
Bob: It's basic theory and basic skills like mic technique. They have three or four lab projects where they have to produce radio shows, mixing music with their voice. I get them right at the lowest common denominator.

I found out that teaching is also an excellent way to find interns. I took one of the students that got an "A" in the course and brought him to the station. He just started this summer as an intern with me. He's real sharp and already has the values down. That is an excellent way to bring someone into the station for assistance.

R.A.P.: What is one of the most common mistakes people make when stepping up to a microphone, and how do you help people with this in your class?
Bob: One of the most common things you find when someone steps up to the mic is that they tense up and the pitch of their voice gets high. One of the things I teach them to do when getting on mic is to keep their voice down low. Another thing is popping Ps. I work with them on how they are using explosives and help them angle their mouth to the microphone without going off mic. That's a pretty tough trick. A lot of people just can't stay on mic.

R.A.P.: Is it just the FM station there, or is there a sister AM down the hall?
Bob: We have an AM also.

R.A.P.: Are you doing all the spots and promos for that station also?
Bob: Not anymore. When we originally changed format several years ago, we were simulcasting on our AM station. Shortly thereafter, we went all talk with a business format. I would say for the first year and a half or so, I had to do all the work for that station as well. You can imagine how crazy that must have been. But once they started generating some revenue and getting more talented people on their staff, they were able to finally take over the production themselves. Now the AM staff does all their own production. I help them out once in a blue moon, and they help me sometimes, too. They are a great source for voices.

R.A.P.: Do you have spots that you have to produce that run on both stations, spots that run on "combo" schedules?
Bob: Not that many. They just hired a few people and are trying to sell combo schedules. At this point, there are a few national buys that come through that way, but it hasn't been much of an issue so far.

R.A.P.: How many commercials would you say you are producing a week?
Bob: I would say from scratch, probably about eight to twelve.

R.A.P.: How many promos?
Bob: Well, every week we do two New Music promos. We do a weekend promo, and, depending on what kind of contest we have going on, it might be two promos for the weekend. Sometimes we do morning show promos. I'd say, in all, five or six promos a week.

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