R.A.P. Again, this was just for your production only, not your voice, right?
Rick: Right. I have a pool of about 5 or 6 guys around the country that I use, or I'll use whatever voice they want to send me. I add the effects, the sampling, and things like that.
R.A.P. Describe the main production studio at WQHT.
Rick: We're running with a Trident board, which is a recording studio board. It's a full 24-track board: 28 inputs and 24 outputs, full patch panel, and 8 effects sends. We were 8-track, but we just upgraded to 200 tracks with the NED (Cont. next page)
Synclavier Direct-to-Disk system. It's a mutha! We got it about 3 months ago.
R.A.P. How has the transition from analog to digital gone?
Rick: For the last month and a half, I haven't turned on an analog multi-track tape deck at all.
R.A.P. Are you a musician?
Rick: A little bit, but not much. I call myself a "step musician" because I'm step programming on sequencers. I used to play the trumpet in high school, so I can play one note at a time, read music, and come up with a composition; but I'd starve as a musician.
R.A.P. Are you the only one using the Direct-To-Disk system?
Rick: Yes. We've got two production studios. The studio I'm describing, I have a key to, and that's it.
R.A.P. What else is in the studio?
Rick: We've got a couple of DBX-165 compressors, the old 949 Harmonizer, the Eventide 2016, a rack of the DBX 900 series, which are the noise gates and compressors, a couple of Technics turntables, a couple of Studer 2-tracks, and an SPX-90. I've got a couple of samplers that I own. One of them is a Prophet 2002 I keep here at work, and I also have the Prophet 2000 at home. That way I can do a lot of swapping between them.
R.A.P. What about the other studio?
Rick: The other production studio is a 4-track room, but it's designed to be an auxiliary on-air studio also. It's got the Auditronics board that is the same as the ones in the on-air studio. The toughest thing these days is designing a production studio that can work as a second air studio, without tying up the hands of the production guy by making it so simple that it can't do what you need it to do. Our second studio is a good compromise there. It's got the Studer 4-track, a couple of Studer 2-tracks, 2 cart machines, 2 turntables, etc.
R.A.P. How many people are helping you out with the day to day stuff?
Rick: I've got one full-time assistant and a part-timer. It's basically set up so that I deal with the sweepers, the ID's, the promos, and the presentations. Bill Schultz, my assistant, does a great job on commercials, and then he's got a guy that comes in 4 nights a week, 4 hours a night just to do dubs, clean up work, labeling, and things like that.
R.A.P. Who handles the copywriting?
Rick: There is no official copywriter on staff. A lot of it comes from agencies or the salespeople. We definitely help out and give ideas, but we don't do a lot of copywriting here. On the promos, I do all of that with the help of the PD. We usually sit down, go over ideas, and knock them out together; or I'll do them over a weekend.
R.A.P. Any deadlines on commercials?
Rick: We just released a new handbook! Copy should be in 24 hours in advance of the flight. I don't want to lose business for the radio station, so if it's possible to get it done, we'll get it done. The other day there was a dub, probably $2000 worth of business, that came in literally 5 minutes before the flight. Well, for me to turn down $2000 worth of business because it came in past a deadline and I didn't have a minute to dub a spot, is a little crazy. Those exceptions are always going to happen. I have a Station Manager and a General Sales Manager who are great at doing the balancing act between sales and programming. There isn't a fight here, which is nice.
R.A.P. You've got a studio at home. Tell us about it.
Rick: I've got a lot of old analog synthesizer gear. The earlier work I did was before the digital synths came out, so I still have a lot of that stuff. Over the past 5 years, I've spent $30,000 on gear. Most of the synthesizer gear I'm buying these days are the rack mount synths without a keyboard, because I use the Prophet 2000 as my master keyboard. I run everything else off of MIDI. I'm very, very into MIDI at home. I use one computer program and the Roland MC-500, a real easy, dedicated sequencer to use. For multi-track, I'm using the Fostex 8-track. There are 2 SPX-90's and the Digitech 128.
R.A.P. How did you acquire the studio?
Rick: Many little tiny purchases. Initially, I took out a $5000 home equity loan when I was back in Indy, and put together a little quickie studio. I'm very glad I did that. It has paid off.
R.A.P. You're one of the few free-lancers who is selling his production only, not your voice, and currently do work for some 50 stations. What marketing was involved here?
Rick: TM originally marketed it pretty heavily with cassettes and direct mail. Personally, I'm at the point now where a lot of it is just word of mouth through a lot of consultants, people who recommend me, and people who have used me before. I'm in a situation now where a lot of stations I originally got on my own, are coming back for additional packages. So a lot of my time is spent just servicing the people I've got.