R.A.P. Interview: Jason Garrett

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R.A.P.: Is the rest of the station digital yet?
Jason: The station is looking to go totally digital by the end of the year. Our control room is still on cart, so to produce a masterpiece on the DSE and then dub it onto a cart is just heartbreaking. I can't wait for them to transfer everything over to digital. They've looked at several different systems, and I think they're getting ready to close on something by at least the end of the year, maybe a little later.

R.A.P.: Aside from your Saturday night show and doing nights for the summer, you basically took yourself off the air. What was it like to give up the air shift full-time?
Jason: It was tough. It was almost like quitting smoking. It was a very difficult thing to do. I loved the on-air thing, but I think it's something every jock has to face sooner or later. Do you want to be a talent for life, or do you want to do something else? Do you start on the management track, or do you just want to stay on the air? It's been my experience from knowing a lot of people in the business that most DJs, unless they're extremely lucky, get old and poor.

R.A.P.: What did you perceive as the upside of going into production, other than the sense of a more stable position?
Jason: The upside is obviously the hours. Coming off a night shift for so many years, I got my nights back. I actually got to see what the moon looks like. I also became more involved with the inner workings of the station. I felt more in the loop. As a night jock you tend to get very isolated from the station. You come in at night and nobody's there. You leave--still nobody's there. Since becoming a Production Director, I feel like it has put me into the management loop more. I feel there's more room for advancement. I'm hoping this might even lead to some sort of job where I could develop specialty shows for Nationwide or for other larger radio corporations doing what I'm doing now but on more of a national basis. And I'm certainly not going to limit myself to just the seventies. I'm only twenty-seven and during that time I certainly wasn't dancing in clubs or anything like that.

R.A.P.: What is it about the seventies music that you like? What does it do for you?
Jason: I identify with it because I think that music of the late seventies era just brings out the silliness in everyone. My show does not necessarily focus specifically on disco. It focuses more on how the listeners react to the disco music. When listeners call up, they're really genuinely themselves. The music strikes a certain chord with people, and I think that disco music of the seventies exposes everybody's unique humanness on a very weird level, a very polyester level.

R.A.P.: Does the station offer any other seventies programming other than the Saturday night show?
Jason:
No, not really. Variety 104.7 is an adult contemporary station. We play a lot of the current hits and some songs from the eighties, but our focus during the week is pretty much on contemporary music. I'll run a promo Thursdays, Fridays and Saturday afternoons plugging what's coming up on the seventies show, but we don't really focus on the seventies at all during the week.

R.A.P.: This is your first Production Director gig. Were there any surprises that came along with the job after you got it? What expectations did you have going in?
Jason: Well, going into the position I was really excited about it because, finally, here was a chance for me to be creative on a full-time basis without having to worry about going on the air and performing. I could take all day to produce sixty seconds of really good quality work. What I was pretty surprised about when I started the position was, of course, working with the sales department which comes as a shock to any first-time Production Director. We have a great staff at Variety and they're all very supportive, but the politics involved can bog down the creative flow. I try and rise above all the politics of the sales department and the office and try and concentrate on the product that I'm producing.

When I took over the position, the production department was very disorganized. I was surprised how disorganized it really was. It surprised me how much work was involved in just organizing the flow of commercials that come through, just small things like alphabetizing the reel-to-reel tapes of spots that come into the station. That was never done. Setting up a workable start-rack for spots that are going to start the next day or the next week--just basic things within the production department were not set up. So I had to break down the entire system and set up a whole new system that worked, not only with the talent, but the sales department. That was the most surprising element and that was the most work. Once that was out of the way and under my belt, the only surprise left was how much fun it was. I've really gotten into it now within the past year, and it's really taking off for me.

R.A.P.: So do you expect you'll stay a production man for the rest of the decade?
Jason: That's kind of hard to say. I'm interested in a lot of things. Right now I'm trying to get my voice-over career off the ground. I was really surprised to find that once you become a Production Director, it opens up many more doors in terms of getting into voice-over work, and that's something that has interested me for a long time. I do a lot of character voices. I do a lot of them on in-house spots, and I've also done a few agency spots here in Phoenix. But what I'm looking for now, really, is an agency or a manager for some representation and somebody who will really help me market that side of my career. So, to answer the question about staying a Production Director, yes, I would like to do that. But I would also like to branch off into voice work. I also do a lot of consulting for talent and would like to pursue that further. I do guest speaking and lectures at broadcast schools and at universities, helping to develop up and coming talent. I like that whole area of talent management and production combined.

R.A.P.: How were your ratings as a jock?
Jason: I was very successful as a top forty jock from San Diego to Phoenix. I've always been either number one or number two at night at every station I've worked at. Seventies Saturday Night, which is the name of the program I'm doing right now, has always fluttered between number one and number two in the market for that time spot on Saturday night. So I've had a lot of success as an on-air person, and I'm hoping I can carry that over into production as well.

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