Randy Reeves, Owner/Producer -- "From Power 99, Atlanta to Randy Reeves: Voice At Large"

by Jerry Vigil

Making the break from radio station Production Director to owner of your own studio and successful production business is a dream held by many, but realized by few. Randy Reeves, former Production Director for Power 99 in Atlanta, is one of the few who has realized the dream. After years of planning and preparation, Randy left Power 99 this past July to devote 100% of his time to "Randy Reeves: Voice At Large", his already very healthy production/voice-over business with a client list of nearly 70 stations.

In this month's interview, we talk with Randy about production at Power 99, what it took to make the break from the station, and we get some tips for those of you hoping to do the same some day.

R.A.P. Give us a brief rundown of your background in radio.
Randy: It was 22 years ago this fall, in '67, when I started in this business. I was in Smalltown, USA, about an hour and a half from Atlanta, jocking on a local station after school. Then I went to the University of Georgia in Athens where I worked at a couple of local stations. I became PD at one of the stations then realized I had nobody there to learn from, so I left school and went to RVQ in Richmond. I stayed there for a year and came back to Athens to finish school. I finally did that, then from 1978 to 1986, I did middays at Z-93 here in Atlanta. I had always been into production, but it was probably during the last couple of years at the Z that I started getting itchy to give up the air work. I didn't want to leave Atlanta, so I waited for a Production Director's position to open up in Atlanta. In '86, the opportunity came at Power 99 right as they were changing formats from WARM-100 to the present CHR format. For 3 years, up until July of this year, I was Production Director at Power 99.

R.A.P. How was the Production Department set up at Power 99?
Randy: Well, in my early days there, we had just switched from an AC format to CHR. As a result, we lost all of our client base within a few months, and we had no numbers at all. There were a heck of a lot of spec spots and a lot of scripts to produce. That was a good training ground for me and my first opportunity to work with multi-track. We had 8-tracks in the studio. It was a great learning experience for me, and it opened up a whole new world, as far as realizing what was capable with a multi-track studio. Eventually, we got the numbers, and we started getting more dubs and national spots.

R.A.P. Were you doing the copywriting for all these spots?
Randy: No. I never really fell into that niche very much. I can rearrange facts on a fact sheet, but, as far as creative dialogue spots, I never really got into that. Throughout my time there, we had several different "stringer" copywriters that would fax things to us, or we'd have interns who were pretty creative with copy. Some of the salespeople would even write their own copy. We didn't have an in-house copywriter to speak of.

R.A.P. Did you have any help with production, or did you do it all?
Randy: All the jocks would pull some production. I never was the Production Director that sat in there and had the voices step up to a mike and read while I produced all day. We had such a load there for a while that both studios were occupied all day. I'd be in the 8-track studio doing most of the involved and fancier things, such as the promos, and I'd assign other production to the jocks to do in the other studio.

R.A.P. How long had you planned on leaving a station and setting up your own business?
Randy: It had been in the back of my mind for 10 years. It wasn't anything that I didn't give a lot of thought to. I was working on getting a client base of freelance stuff so I would be able to make that break. I finally felt like that was happening, so I decided to go for it.
I remember, in a small business class at UGA, doing a project on what's probably every production guy's dream--the studio in the bedroom thing. That was back in '76 or '77. I remember thinking, "Well, I'm just gonna hit Atlanta, I'll have a studio, and BAM! Everybody will be calling me." Obviously, you can't get discouraged when the grim reality sets in. You realize you're the new kid on the block and that there are a lot of seasoned pros in a major market; so you just have to take your time, perfect your skills, and wait 'til the timing is right.