Q It Up: Where Do You Shop For Production Supplies?

Q-It-Up-Logo-sep95Q It Up: Are you in charge of budgeting for and/or ordering production supplies for your studios—CDRs, cassettes, DATs, labels, etc? Where do you shop for supplies? Do you use a local company? Do you shop online? Who do you use and why do you use them—convenience, price, service? Please feel free to add any other helpful comments you might have about stocking and maintaining supplies at your studios.

Pete Jensen [PETEJ[at]kxly.com], KXLY Broadcast Group, Spokane, Washington: I’ve been buying supplies from Polyline for a number of years. I think their prices and selection are pretty good. I go to Comp USA for CD-Rs. I’ve had good luck with their bulk CD-Rs and the price is unbeatable.

Dave Green [DaveGreen[at]CC ORLANDO.com], Clear Channel Communications, Orlando, Florida: Yes, I am the one who’s gotta keep our seven stations supplied with all assortment of recording media...and we go through quite a bunch every month. I’d say we order the most cassettes for specs and air checks, and MiniDiscs for archiving shows and production. More and more CD-Rs are being scarfed up around here lately, so that’s becoming a popular medium of choice.

I order everything but the MiniDiscs from one place that I highly recommend, Airwaves in Ormond Beach, Fl. Owner Russ Novak is a great guy who puts service first, always going that extra mile to find something I’m looking for, add something to his inventory for me, comparing prices to get me the best deal, and then, he’s been honest about it if and when he can’t beat a price. Best of all, his turnaround time is usually very fast. It does help that Airwaves is located fairly close to Orlando, but he ships UPS in a day or two and that works for us. Russ at Airwaves can be reached at 904-439-1802. Call him and tell him I referred you. He’ll take good care of you. He’s first rate.

As for the MiniDiscs, we have an account with www.minidisco.com. They’re in California. And because I buy in large quantity, they  always treat me right by discounting my order and the shipping costs.

I try not to let my stock of cassettes, DAT and video tapes, MDs and CD-Rs get too low before ordering more, ‘cause you never know when someone’s gonna hit you with some big project requiring a load of media.

Now if we can just get rid of reel-to-reel and DAT recorders, we’d be all set.

James Stodd [James.Stodd[at]Red DragonFM.co.uk], Red Dragon FM, Cardiff, United Kingdom: It’s amazing how much digital stock we now go through in this digital age. We send out all client ROTs on CD, and our commercial production department sends out all commercials on them, too. Prices for CDRs are now so cheap, we don’t even bother with cassettes any more. We’ve had some CD inlays, etc. printed to tie in with our current bus/poster marketing. I guess if this was beyond budgets, you could knock up some similar stuff on a DTP program. We always personalize the CD labels for the client/campaign title, etc.

We use a London based company for all our media supplies. You can find them at www.first4media.co.uk. They do deliver internationally, but I’d guess there are some more suitable local companies in local markets.

Don Elliot [voiceovers[at]earthlink.net], KFI, Los Angeles, CA: I use Global in LA for our CDRs. APDC is our supplier for DATs [at] $2.10 each for 32-minute; $2.30 for 62-minute DATs.

For the best buy on GEAR, I go to a guy named Dominic Joe Wang at B&H Photo in NYC. The customer service is what it’s all about. It’s great, the prices are the best, and the personal service is a bonus. Ask for him and use me as a referral. Tell him you’re in radio. (888) 221-8180 ext. 1053.

Craig Debolt [cdebolt[at]wroq-wtpt.com], WROQ/WTPT, Greenville, South Carolina: I use Hahn And Meyers Nationwide Audio. My contact there is CJ, and she is by far better to deal with than anyone else I’ve run across in my career. They have anything you could want, and CJ makes it an easy experience. And she knows my budget and will work with me. I don’t have time to fool around with “cheaprices dot stupid.” Just get me what I need, thanks.

Richard Stroobant [bigdick[at]cjay 92.com], CJAY/CKMX, Calgary, Alberta, Canada: We buy our supplies from a variety of local businesses. Cassettes, DATs (not many), tape (not very much either) from a place called Axe Music. They deliver to us, usually same or next day, and they are pretty reasonable. As for CD-Rs, we buy them from Costco (we go through a shit-load of these). I have found Maxell and Kodak to be the most reliable. For labels (we don’t use much anymore except cassette labels for clients) we use our local printer who does our business cards as well.

To be honest, in the last few years, our budget for supplies has gone down considerably. With the advent of MP3-ing spots via email to other stations, use of Pro-Tools to assemble, produce and archive stuff, we don’t use much of anything. Even clients want to hear their spots via mp3 now—faster than getting a cassette from a rep.

Donnie Marion [dmarion[at]104 krbe.com], 104 KRBE, Houston, Texas: I use an Austin company with a local office, Pro Tape. That’s the first plus. When I found them, they were cheaper than the other company I used, which also was local. Sometimes they have to ship items from Austin, but that’s no more than a 1-day delay. Pro Tape will send it over, even if I’m only buying a box of CDs for me, as opposed to CDs for station use. I buy all the things we record on from them.

Back when Ampex was Ampex, corporate had some factory connection, and we bought reel pancakes from the factory, but not any more.

I don’t do much shopping on-line, for two reasons: 1) you have to be in front of the computer, 2) and this one is more important—if you shop on-line, they want you to use a credit card to pay. I haven’t been given a corporate credit card, so that would leave me with using mine. I like the people who only need purchase order numbers.

Darren Marlar [marlar[at]marlar house.com], Marlar House Productions: I wish I could say that someone else was in charge of ordering supplies because then I wouldn’t see how much money I need to fork out every month to keep Marlar House Productions (www.marlarhouse.com) running. Of course, there is always the newest gadget or toy that I’d like to have, but I won’t bother telling you about that—after all, we’re all production freaks and can relate. If I just look at operation expenses, it’s enough. I never thought owning my own business would be so difficult. CDRs, labels, inkjet cartridges, paying my web guy, electricity, gas, phone bills, cable bills, blah, blah, blah.

Along with Marlar House Productions, which images quite a few Christian radio stations across the country (over a hundred and fifty if you count the networks), I still have my own radio gig from 3p-7p every day and am also in the process of creating a good clean show prep service for Christian radio. Why am I telling you all of this? Because I want to promote my business! Duh! I NEED THE MONEY!!! Well, that and to also to say that I DO NOT have time to shop. It may be a bit more expensive, but I’ve discovered that shopping online is so much more convenient and stress free. It’s actually worth the shipping costs just to keep my piece of mind.

I do almost all of my office supply shopping (CDRs, labels, inkjet cartridges, etc.) at OfficeDepot.com. They have a section on their website where you can create your own list of items that you purchase on a fairly regular basis. Whenever I need supplies, I go to my own page, I select those items that I need, and purchase them. Three or four days later, the Office Depot guy is knocking on my door with my delivery. It’s great, and if I could get the guy to stop by the store and pick up bread and milk on the way over, I’d consider it perfect. In most areas, any purchase of over $50 is delivered for free (I can’t imagine NOT spending at least $50, can you?!?!) I happen to be in an area where that doesn’t apply, so I still have to pay about $10 extra per delivery, but I still think it’s worth it. I don’t have to spend time driving to the store, walking up and down the aisles looking for each individual item. I don’t have to ask the clerk if they’re out of a certain product, and I don’t have to stand in line for 20 minutes while some bozo at the front tries to use a credit card in the “Cash Only” lane. I log on, purchase, and forget about it.

Maintaining stock and supplies is fairly simple in my case. I order one more of each item than I need. That way, when I’m down to my last item in any category, I know it’s time to reorder. It’s not the best system in the world, but it works for me. I can’t imagine life without the Internet nowadays—I’m planning on becoming a recluse. I even do all of my mailing from home using Pitney Bowes software for printing my own postage from the net. Very cool!

Almost all of my labels are from Avery (available at OfficeDepot.com). I love the ease of use more than anything else, along with the free software that makes my life easier. I’ve been very impressed with the Avery Media Software. It gives me the opportunity to look as professional as possible without hiring my own graphic artist and paying tremendous printer costs just to look good to prospective and/or current clients. In this business, image is everything, and even though you may have an incredible sounding product (such as imaging for Christian radio stations!), if it arrives to your client in a shoddy package, it ruins the effect. The idea is to make your entire presentation look and sound as good as possible, and Avery has allowed me to do that.

I found some CDRs not too long ago that are completely blank (white) on the top. They’re from Maxell and are made specifically for people who have inkjet printers. It’s a small thing, but CDs such as these keep the printing from showing through the label that you just printed for it. Again, image, image, image...

Mark Planiden [mark[at]chet radio.com], CHET FM, Chetwynd, BC, Canada: You know, with everything being produced digitally these days, we barely need to buy production supplies. Everything is recorded to the computer, transferred to the on-air drives through our network, and if it needs to be distributed elsewhere in the world, it’s usually through the net (like for the RAP CD). CD-Rs are about all I’ve ever needed to buy (and videotape for our TV station, but since this is RAP magazine, I’ll leave that out). I buy from Western Imperial Magnetics, or WIM Media (www.wimmedia.com) based in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Not sure how much US business they do, but here in Canada they have great prices, ship pretty quick, and they have a pretty good selection/variety. They sell most media, plus equipment, wires, and accessories as well. I could order online, but usually just call it in. We have an account, and it’s the easiest way for us (since we don’t have a station credit card). I deal with them because they’re about the only ones I know about that I don’t have to pay customs on. Like I said though, TV station aside, I don’t buy much in the way of production supplies. It’s all on the hard drive...and when that crashes, well, then I’m screwed.

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