R.A.P.: Tell us a little more about this workshop you and your partner do.
Keith: The guy's name is Paul Armbruster. He moved here a couple of years ago from LA. The workshop is basically for people who want to get into doing voice-over work for TV and radio. It's for people that are green and have never done it. However, some of our students have done it. We had a guy recently who is an anchor for CNN which is based here in Atlanta, but most of the people are pretty green.
Paul and I make a great team. We've been doing the workshop for about a year and a half now. We do one about every four months or so. Paul was doing the workshops by himself before I came along. Then we teamed up, and now I provide input on the technical end -- mike usage, different technical aspects of the studio, etc.. Here lately, as Paul has gotten more familiar with my voice work, he has let me offer more input to the talent on the voice end of the sessions. The workshop goes on for about eight weeks. We meet once a week at one of the production companies here in town after hours.
R.A.P.: To have the time to pursue outside talent for spots, you must have some deadlines for the salespeople to follow.
Keith: Oh, boy! Now there's a topic to talk about! Deadlines! I've set up a deadline of 4:30 the day before something has to be on, at the very outside. Tonight, at six o'clock, they came in and said, "Uh, this was just faxed to us."
"Well, when does it need to be on?"
"In an hour."
I casually said, "Well, rest assured it won't be on." I'm versed in changing the logs -- writing things on, and rescheduling spots -- so I just went and changed the log. Even so, I still didn't get out of there until eight. There are some things we'll bend the rules for, but for the most part [we'll stick to the deadlines]. We're in a sold out status right now, so we can't miss anything. We'll reschedule spots and put others in place of those we don't get in on time. You can do so many back-flips. After a certain point, I'm not going to do a back-flip.
Also, we often get to a point where I'm on too many spots or just enough spots, or my assistant is on too many or just enough. Everything has to hang in a real delicate balance or someone will get me on the phone, like my boss, and say, "You're on too many things. Can we get some things recut?" Like tonight. Here's another piece of copy, and it has got to go on now. I have no other voices available. I can't do it. I'm on too many spots. The only other option is to get my boss, Rick Stacy, to do it. So, when he gets off the air tomorrow morning at nine o'clock, I'll get him to do it for me, and the spots will start in midday.
R.A.P.: When you changed the log tonight, did you also go into the computer and move spots around?
Keith: Oddly enough, tonight was the first time I had actually dealt with our Traffic Manager's computer. I called her at home and got her on the speaker phone. She and I are a team. Her name is Vicki Nichols, and she's the Traffic and Continuity Manager -- one person doing all this with all these bars and everything else! The woman is a walking miracle. Everybody knows it, too. On the phone tonight, when I was going into the computer for my first time, she talked me through everything. She talked me through the "bump" list so I could put things back on the log that had been bumped. The woman is telling me, "This is cart number this, and this is contract number this." She has all these numbers in her head. Maybe every traffic person knows this, but it's amazing. She's invaluable. And she's so even-tempered. Nothing gets her flustered, and that's great because she offsets me when I'm lunging down an Account Executive's throat.
R.A.P.: That's something we don't touch on very often in the magazine, the relationship between production and traffic/continuity. It's very important.
Keith: It is. And I'll tell you, at my first production gig back at KISS, Bernice was the woman that did it there. Of course, I was green as hell and knew nothing about dealing with Account Executives and the importance of things being in at a certain time and being done. It was all a complete learning process for me. What ultimately ended my relationship with that station, I think, was that I finally turned her against me. This was after about a year. The relationship was no longer there. We had it for a long time, and then something didn't click one day. It progressively got worse, and then we parted ways. I say that just to emphasize how important the relationship is between the Production Director and the traffic person. I can't imagine having two people doing the traffic and continuity, and I know a lot of stations have two people doing it. In that case, you've got three personalities involved. Fortunately, for us, we've got two.
Vicki and I have always had this great relationship ever since I started at the station, and that's why it was kind of a natural for me to move into this position one day. We had always worked so well together.
R.A.P.: You deal with club owners and managers on a regular basis. What have you learned about dealing with these people?
Keith: Never trust them. It's like trying to predict the unpredictable. They'll tell you one thing, you'll take everything they've said, you'll go and produce the spot exactly the way they wanted it, you'll play it for them, and then they'll say something like, "Well, how 'bout if we do this, and can you change this?" Before you know it, the spot is something totally different, and you say, "But wait a minute! We went over this, and you approved these things!" You can never rely on what they say they want.
R.A.P.: How do you deal with a client who wants to change something you've already gotten approval for and produced?
Keith: I'll refer to Petris again since they happen to be the biggest one. Peter Gatien owns a lot of really big, successful clubs all over the country. He's the king of the club scene. He owns Petris, and he just sent a guy down to run the club. The first couple of weeks with this new guy, John, were a little rocky. Now, things have turned around. He and I are buddies. Not only am I continuing to do his creative, but I'm also doing an appearance in the club once a week as a jock from the station. I stay in touch with him all week long, and he tells me what he wants. When I present something and he says, "Oh, I don't know about this...," I just talk to him about it. We've developed this rapport, and we get along very well now. We have a very good working relationship, a situation we all questioned in the early days from the Sales Manager on down. But we turned it around by satisfying the guy and showing him we were in his corner.
A lot of it is just PR stuff -- being on the phone with the man. I happen to live near the club, so I'd drop by at ten o'clock at night on my way home from the gym or somewhere. I'd have a commercial to play for him, so I'd take him out to the car and let him hear it. It's taking the time to provide that personal service and showing these people that you care.
Of course, you're going to find snakes in the grass in every club scene, and there are plenty of snakes in town, but John happens to be one guy I like.