R.A.P. Interview: Ray Avila

JV: KFI is doing an incredible job in the ratings. What do you attribute this success to?
Ray: I think a lot of it is the vision of David G. Hall, the Program Director. He is always striving for KFI to be better. In the meetings I’ve gone to, he’s always wanting to make KFI, the product, that much better. He wants us to be unique. He wants the station to stand out. If you listen to us, we’re not your normal news/talk station. We’re geared toward a younger audience, and I would consider our staff to be a pretty young staff.

JV: What are some things you do to stand out on the radio, to be different?
Ray: Well, we are very promo intensive. We go through promos up here like crazy. Imaging is everything in my opinion, and we’re always striving to get that edgier sound or that unique promo to make the station different. We’re out there trying to be in your ear. That’s the best way I can describe it.

JV: It sounds like you can get just about as crazy as you want.
Ray: Yeah, and that’s where I love David Hall’s vision because he has given me the opportunity to expand and to push the envelope of every promo that I do. You can’t get any more creative freedom than that. Having that type of freedom to be able to do stuff like that is great.

JV: And once you’ve done something a little off the wall and take it to him, does he usually accept it?
Ray: Yeah, pretty much so. On a rare occasion, with something I’ve done that’s really obscure, he’ll say, “You know, that’s really not what I was looking for.” But I would say that close to ninety percent of the promos I do are accepted by KFI.

JV: Does KFI do some wild promotions to give you some unique material to work with? Are you giving away any breast implants?
Ray: A lot of the promotions we do are pretty straightforward. We don’t get too crazy with that. A lot of our stuff is simply inviting listeners to come out and meet the hosts of our shows.

JV: Do you have giveaways like cash or car giveaways?
Ray: No, none at all.

JV: Sounds like you’re not buying the audience.
Ray: Not at all. Our audience is really hooked on our hosts and the station.

JV: You mentioned that you produce jingles. Are you a musician?
Ray: Not per se, but I have some musical background. A lot of the jingle stuff is just coming up with the idea, finding the right music, writing out some lyrics, and asking the guys with the morning show to help me out. They’re the ones who can sing. I might be a background singer.

JV: Are you doing any voice work other than the occasional background vocal or character stuff?
Ray: No, that’s pretty much it.

JV: Are you writing the promos for KFI as well as producing?
Ray: Yes.

JV: About how many would you say you’re doing in a week?
Ray: I’m probably writing close to six or seven a week. But, I also handle a lot of the show promos too, like for Rush and Dr. Laura. There’s not much writing there. It’s pretty much just a quick voice track then throw in a bit from Dr. Laura or Rush. But those take time also. So, including those promos also, I’d say I’m doing about twenty, twenty-five promos a week. That’s on top of the other work such as the commercials and IDs and things like that.

JV: What are your hours like at the station?
Ray: I roll in about eight o’clock and leave about five.

JV: Tell us about your production rooms.
Ray: We have three production rooms. They just refurbished Mark Drummond’s room at KACE, and now all the production rooms have ABX 26 PR&E consoles. Every room has an Akai DD1000. That’s really our workhorse for voice tracking. It’s a 2-track. For multi-tracking, in two of the three studios, we have SAWplus. We’re in the process of upgrading to the 32-bit version. Our beefed-up studio also has the Tascam DA-88 and the Sonic Solutions CD burner. We burn CDs for KOST, all the music and jingles. For special effects, we have Eventide Harmonizers, the H4000, I think. We also have the Alesis MiniVerb 2 in all the rooms, and two of the three rooms have the Yamaha SPX 90.

JV: How do you like SAWplus?
Ray: I love it to death. It has made my promo life a lot easier. I’ve seen ProTools, but since I’m not a Mac person, it doesn’t do anything for me. Same thing with Sonic Solutions. The one we have is a 2-track recorder, a workstation, and it’s too slow. I don’t recall which one it is, but it must be one of the older ones.

JV: Are you still using carts?
Ray: Yeah. We’re using Tomcats. We archive everything to DAT, and we are starting to use MiniDiscs to archive. Then we dub it from the DAT or the MiniDisc onto cart.

JV: When you sit down to write and produce a killer promo for KFI, what’s your creative approach?
Ray: I generally try to envision what I want first. I come up with an idea, then I try to build around it. My creative process is really weird. Let’s say I have a great bit from a host I want to use. I’ll start with that then start building around it, adding sound effects and such. Then I’ll start writing things around that. I guess it’s almost like producing backwards. The music is also a big part of the promo. I’ve found that without the right music, the promo is not going to work.

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