R.A.P. Interview: Jason Garrett

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R.A.P.: How did you wind up at KVRY as a Production Director?
Jason: When I left XHRM, I went to Z90 and changed my on-air name from Jason Garrett to Kid Corona, like the beer. The reason we did that was because of the proximity to Tijuana and that hallmark. We needed something that sounded young and hip. We did a lot of tie-ins with Corona beer through club gigs and things of that sort. Kid Corona was my on-air name in the industry for the past six or seven years. I just recently went back to using Jason Garrett.

I got an offer to come to Phoenix in 1991 to do nights as Kid Corona at KOY-FM, and I was there until they switched formats. Then I spent the next two years doing the night shift at Power 92. Then they went to more of a rock lean, and I began looking to get out of CHR because it was just becoming very unstable. I wanted more of a management position because I was getting tired of jumping around from station to station doing nights. The Adult Contemporary format seemed more of a logical choice to go. KVRY used to be the old KZZP in Phoenix. They had already changed from the CHR format to adult, so I figured there might be more of a long-term future there.

I started at Variety 104.7 KVRY in January, 1994, and I was hired by the Program Director, Steve Elliott, because he was developing a seventies show on Saturday night. He had heard about my background in San Diego and hired me initially to develop that show from a one-hour show into a live four-hour show. I produced a lot of the elements I was using in that program myself. There were promos and other on-air elements. He liked them and he offered me the Production Director gig about a month after that.

My whole career has been as a Top 40 jock, and now it feels like I've come full circle. I'm back on the air doing the disco thing. When I came to Phoenix initially, I thought the Disco Stranger character was dead and buried, but I thought wrong.

R.A.P.: Have you thought about syndicating the seventies show?
Jason: I've been shopping around for some people to pick up the show. It's a very political thing, and right now it seems that a lot of stations all over the country are flooded with this type of show. What makes my show different from any other seventies shows that are out there right now is that it's not really a disco show per se. I do a lot of things on the air with production, like parodies of the disco era through fake commercials and false promos. For example, right now one of my shticks is that Lief Garrett is my half brother, and I'm going to be running for President in 1996. I chose him as my running mate, so the ticket is Garrett-Garrett '96. I also did a lot during the November congressional election with political advertising that I cooked up in the production room such as Proposition 500 which is a polyester tax. I urged listeners to vote no because it will cost thrift stores millions of dollars and that listeners in fact do have a right to wear polyester in public. The program broadcast on the pseudo PRN network, which is the Polyester Radio Network, a network many listeners throughout the Phoenix market actually think is real. And the way that the show is presented, through production and other elements, it sounds like a syndicated show, and a lot of people think that it is. So I'm hoping maybe to get the show national. I've talked to some people in New York and it's just a matter of timing for something like that.

R.A.P.: What are your responsibilities as Production Director?
Jason: I do a little bit of everything. Mainly, I do all the station promos. I'm in charge of all the commercial spots. I work on a daily basis with the sales department to make sure they're happy, and I assign more of the less creative work out to the disk jockeys to voice. I use air talent for tagging spots and things of that sort, but I handle most of the actual production work.

Right now I'm actually doing three jobs. I'm the full-time Production Director. I'm also doing the night shift from seven to midnight every night through the summer to kind of get the ratings going and build a base at night. Our station's always been a nine to five office listening station, and we're trying to do more at night. Then I've also got the seventies Saturday night show going. So I'm doing a juggling act right now with these three things.

R.A.P.: Does the station use any outside voices?
Jason: Our station voice is Randy Reeves out of Atlanta. He sends us raw voice tracks, and a lot of the things I use on my disco show, as well as in station promos, are some of his out takes. I think he's aware of it. A lot of voice-over artists screw things up and send their out takes along with the good takes. I'll actually use some of the out takes in our promos. It gives them kind of a comedic feel. It makes our promos stand out a little bit more.

R.A.P.: How would you describe your "style" of production?
Jason: Whatever I produce has to sound energetic. It has to cut through. And I'm a firm believer in doing production that entertains. Right now it has been real easy for me to do that. We just got some new equipment in at the station, the Orban DSE-7000 digital machine, which has made my life extremely easy. It has enabled me to not only experiment more, but it has also freed me up to just go in and play around more. There's a feature on there called "Undo" where if you do something you don't like, you can undo it. You could never do that with tape. Anyway, I like to make sure that the spots we produce cut through the other spots we get from agencies. I like to make our spots sound unique to our station.

R.A.P.: Did you check out some of the other workstations before you settled on the DSE-7000?
Jason: We looked at some of the others, but we got the DSE into the radio station on a trial basis. Our engineer brought it in so I could play with it, and when the company came to claim the machine, I actually blockaded the production room door and threatened them over my dead body to take it.

R.A.P.: Did you really?
Jason: Yeah, they came to get it because we only had it on a trial basis for thirty days. I guess the squeaky wheel gets the grease because I stormed into the GM's office and said, "You can't take this machine!" I was on my knees. It was terrible. It was pathetic.

R.A.P.: But it worked!
Jason: Yeah, it worked. They bought it and I have it. I would recommend that machine for any Production Director, new or seasoned. It's a user friendly machine. The people who designed it obviously had worked in production before. When you go through the owner's manual reading about the DSE-7000, they are very humorous about it. It's almost like they understand what Production Directors go through. The designers of this machine understand what production is about, and they have really produced a winning machine. I want another one. I want to get two or three of them.

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