R.A.P. Interview: Bob Holmcrans

R.A.P.: Your radio background before WPGC's urban format was rock and roll. How did you make the transition from one format to the other, especially with the formats being so different?
Bob: I don't really know a hell of a lot about what is going on in my own format, but I don't think that is a negative. Ken Shelton taught me years ago at 'BCN that a radio person will beat a music person every time. That was a real eye opening thing for me at the time because I thought that if you were going to be on the radio you had to be a music guru. What I've learned is that he is a hundred percent right. It is a business. You have to understand how the business works, how radio works. And it doesn't matter what format you are working in. I'm living testimony to that. It is almost a joke around here. If we're playing a song and I like it, they say, "Gosh, we better pull it off the air because Bob doesn't know what the hell is going on in this format!"

What you need to know, you ask. You ask the Music Director or the Program Director if you feel you need a little guidance in what music to use in a certain promo or commercial. What hit song should I use if so and so is coming to town?

My knowledge is rock and roll, and I've always wanted to be a Production Director in a rock station. But the knowledge of the music doesn't really matter. What matters is that you do your job in a professional way and understand how radio works. I would encourage other Production Directors -- especially if they are just starting out or want to get into different markets -- to not shy away because of the format. I would like to work in a country format. There was even a time quite a while ago, when the all sports stations started coming out, when I was saying, "Gee, I would like to produce a sports station." I don't know anything about sports. I've never liked sports. But that doesn't matter. I think it would be a real challenge to be able to produce a sports station.

Most people I have come in contact with tend to really be into the format of the station they're working at -- really into the lifestyle of the music. That was the case when I was at 'BCN. I experienced that part of it. But it's not necessary. You will still have a lot of fun even though it is not the same format you're into.

R.A.P.: Back to interns for a moment. What do you look for in an intern, and how do you use them?
Bob: I very rarely hire an intern. I would almost rather go without one unless I find one that is incredibly dedicated. I find them more of a hinderance than a help unless I find someone that has the where-with-all to put all they have into it. I basically look for someone that has the same type of drive I did when I was an intern. I would intern at the station, then go and work as a waiter; and at one o'clock in the morning, when the restaurant and the bar closed, I would hop into a taxi, go over to 'BCN's production studio, and practice everything until six o'clock in the morning. That is what I want to find in an intern.

They are hard to find that dedicated, but once I find one, I'll give them everything I can in terms of my time and training. Basically, I take them slowly, one step at a time, and teach them to be incredibly meticulous. Then I gradually have them do dubbing.

I felt really good about my intern today. I had the day off to go to jury duty. Christina, who was my right hand, was on vacation today. So she wasn't there to run the department. But I felt very confident that my intern could do it.

I like to get them doing dubs, but only after I am totally satisfied that they understand all the basic concepts of carting up spots -- making sure they're tight, making sure they're in phase, making sure all the levels are balanced properly. And I make sure that they are meticulous in double checking and literally triple checking all the serial numbers on the production orders and the billboards on the tapes. They get the full organizational aspect of it, and I make sure they understand the larger picture that they are not just in a little room putting a tape together, but that they are putting something together that is conceivably worth thousands of dollars in revenue for the station, and that is important. The sound quality of the spot also has to be up to the station's standards so people don't tune out. And if they have any questions, then they should call me at home if they are working late at night or on the weekends, and we will figure out what to do from there.

R.A.P.: Did you find it difficult to delegate some of your responsibilities to an intern?
Bob: Yes. One of the things I learned the hard way is to delegate. But you have to learn to delegate responsibly. When I first got the gig as Production Director, I was so concerned that everything would go right that I literally did every single piece of production myself. I did every dub. I produced every spot, every promo. I was there till one o'clock in the morning every day. I did that for about a year, and finally I couldn't do anymore. I was starting to burn out, and my boss said, "Hey, you've got to learn to delegate." That was hard for me to do. But if you train people properly, and they understand their responsibilities and how important their responsibilities are, things will be okay. Keep communication with them and don't make them feel like they can't make a mistake. If they make a mistake, that's okay. Just fix it and keep going on. If you can create an environment like that, then you can learn to delegate and feel confident in your delegation and run a much more efficient department because it frees you up to do the more important stuff, things that use your strengths as opposed to sitting around doing dubs all day.

R.A.P.: What production libraries are you using?
Bob: I have Maximum Impact from FirstCom. Actually, I have discs from two of their libraries, Maximum Impact and Sound Designer. The company was really great. They sent me both complete libraries for thirty days and let me pick and choose what I wanted.

Some of the libraries out there just sounded like Muzak. They didn't reflect the sound of my station at all. I just had one of the major companies send me a demo the other day, and it's a shame -- they put so much time and energy into it, but they don't have a clue. Most of these libraries that I have auditioned just make your radio station sound like any other radio station in the country. And there is something about our sound -- we don't sound like any other radio station in the country. We have a very unique sound. I am very particular in what beds I choose and the way that I put stuff together. That's part of my contribution to the station, to keep it unique. So I was real picky in finding something that worked and was glad to be able to pick and choose those FirstCom discs. They gave me a nice strong bunch of stuff to work with that doesn't sound like generic music. Actually, some of it is very, very catchy.

R.A.P.: What are you using for sound effects libraries?
Bob: Nothing that great. I have the Dimensions library and the Sony library. But I'm kind of gearing up, I think, to get The General from Sound Ideas. That's something I'd like to shoot for. As a matter of fact, their demo was so good that I brought it to the class I taught at the college to play for the students so they could get an idea of what a good sound effects library can do.

Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet

Leave your comments

  1. Posting comment as a guest. Your post will be moderated. Your email address will not be shown or linked. (If you have an account, log in for real time posting and other options.)
0 Characters
Attachments (0 / 3)
Share Your Location