R.A.P.: Are you suggesting that it's a matter of becoming a "buddy" with these people so you can gain their trust?
Keith: That's what it is. Now, a lot of them I would not readily open up to and trust. John's case happens to be one where it happened this way. He's fun, and we see eye to eye on a lot of things, especially after we got deeper into the professional and interpersonal relationship. Developing the relationship is where it's at.
Sometimes you can tell people they like a spot and get them to agree. This guy in particular almost WANTS an opinion. He'll tell you, "No, no, I don't like this." But if you put it a certain way, you can almost tell him that he does like it, and he'll buy it.
I had a guy on the phone today for a place called the Rent Connection. This guy was the Director of Marketing for this business that helps people find a place to live. I played the commercial for the guy. It was really different but very funny. The guy said, "You know, I'm not real sure about that...." After I had talked to him for about another three minutes, knowing this was a good spot and believing wholeheartedly in it, I had talked him into loving it. By the time I hung up, he was so into the commercial he could hardly wait to hear it on the air. I find a lot of people like that. If you reassure them and say, "Hey, I've been doing this for a while, and believe me, I'd tell you if it was questionable." If you let them know everything is going to be okay in the long run and it's going to work for them, they'll simmer down a lot.
R.A.P.: It seems a lot of times that clients want to change something simply to have the last word. Do you find this to be true?
Keith: Yes. I agree with that completely. Yesterday, I dealt with a record store chain called Turtles. I wanted to switch the first sentence of the copy with the second sentence so the sentences would fit in the music gaps just right. They didn't want to do it. Honestly, looking at the copy, it wouldn't have changed a thing, but the woman said, "Don't mess with my copy. I want my copy the way it is." She just wanted the last word on it. I have to watch myself with situations like this because I could have gone off on this person. I have to shut my mouth and say, "Hey, they're paying my car note every month and buying me toys, so I'm just going to shut up and go with it."
But, once again, if you develop a good relationship with these people, you can get away with so much. Part of my college education was in sociology, and I just thrived on it because a lot of it was dealing with the masses, dealing with people. I always find it challenging to learn how to work with somebody so you can win them over. A lot of this stuff is based on Dale Carnegie and Zig Ziglar. You change peoples' opinions, and you talk them into seeing things the way you see them. It's not manipulation so much as it is developing a relationship, and before you know it, you've got people eating out of your hands. It's not going to work in every situation, but it can certainly be done.
R.A.P.: When producing club spots with intricate music beds, do you cut up the bed first then apply the copy or vice versa?
Keith: I cut up the bed first. I find it so much easier. There's too much trial and error to go through, and it's a real shot in the dark to try to match up the music to a voice track that's already on the multi-track. So we try to edit the music beds together beforehand.
R.A.P.: Tell us about promo production at Power 99. Who does it?
Keith: We're unusual in that area because Rick Stacy, the PD, loves to do promos. And it's just as well because I can't imagine having to do the writing and production of the commercials AND having to do promos, too. We use Mark Driscoll to voice our promos, and anyone who uses Mark knows how great he is and how unique his voice is, but the state his voice tracks arrive in is something else. He doesn't give you the read in complete sentences. He does it in fragments. Then you have to splice words and phrases together to make a complete sentence. I'm almost glad I don't have to do the promos because of that. Rick enjoys producing them, and it shows because he got two awards for the station in the Firstcom Awards this year. Rick does most of the promos. I've done a few, and Domino, our night guy, will also do a few promos here and there.
R.A.P.: How do the various departments at Power 99 get along with one another?
Keith: There's a wonderful family atmosphere at this radio station. Down deep, what really bonds the station together is that every-body is like a brother and sister. Everybody feels that way. There are days when I will go to lunch with the engineer; Chris, his assistant; Vicki, the traffic/continuity person; and Joyce, our business manager. You've got four totally different departments that you would think would have nothing to do with each other, all going to lunch together; and we'll cut up and talk like we've known each other for twenty years. We have our favorite places in remote corners of the city, and we'll say, "Okay, on a certain day we're going to venture down here for lunch. It may be a two hour lunch, but we're gonna go," and we'll take the tops off the cars and go and have this great bonding time. We do it because we want to and we like to. We all get along together, and that's why things work so well at the station. That is what has contributed to us getting Station of the Year and our Music Director getting Music Director of the Year; and as I mentioned, Rick got the Firsty awards. We've had a very good couple of months.
R.A.P.: Is there a separate producer for the station's morning show?
Keith: Yes. That's George Lowe, and he's a genius. This guy is basically a stand-up comic. The guests that come through the station are just rolling by the time they leave. He does some stand-up stuff in town, and he's won some Emmy Awards for some of his voice work on television. He doesn't pull music and that kind of stuff. All he does is book guests, he does voices and bits, intros the show, intros guests, and he does the show close. He doesn't have a high personality profile on the morning show, but his characters do.
R.A.P.: Is he pre-recording his bits in a production studio?
Keith: Yes. He works out of our big 8-track studio.
R.A.P.: How many production studios are there?
Keith: We have two 8-track studios. One of them is brand new. We also have a 4-track studio. Oddly enough, there's not a person in the station that doesn't prefer using the 4-track studio over the 8-track studio. In fact, probably everything you've heard from me on The Cassette was all done in the 4-track room. This is because the mike chain in the 4-track room has more balls, more depth. Here we are with an 8-track studio with a Pacific Recorders console. We've got AKG mikes that probably cost six or seven hundred bucks each. We've got Orban equalizers, compressors, a Compellor, and a Yamaha SPX-1000. We've got this incredible, brand new Studer 8-track, and everybody prefers to use the 4-track room with an old MCI 4-track workhorse in it.
R.A.P.: What microphone are you using in the 4-track studio?
Keith: It's that big Tylenol capsule, the Shure SM5. With the AKG's, everybody complains about them being too sensitive and always popping P's. We're taking measures to make that 8-track a lot more friendly for people so they'll get in there and use it more.
R.A.P.: Have you considered just putting an SM5 in the 8-track room?
Keith: Here we go into one of those engineering things. The engineer says to me, "You know, these mikes are eighteen times more expensive than those big SM5's, and they sound a whole hell of a lot better. You just have to get used to 'em."
Another part of the charm of the 4-track room is that we've got one of those little dbx compressors on line with the mike. Our engineer says, "Well, you know, all you're doing is just splattin' your voice. You don't need to be splattin' it like that...."
"Yea, but Vic, we like...."
"Yea, it makes you sound like you've got more balls than you already...."
"Yes, Vic. That's right! It's just a little magic thing. Why don't you give us some splat and some SM5's?"
Probably twenty percent of the voice work at the station is done out of the 8-track, and eighty percent out of the 4-track. People will go into the 4-track room and do their voice on tape and take it into the 8-track room and produce it in there.