Troy Smith, Music/Production Director, WFNX-FM, Boston, MA

troy-smith-dec93by Jerry Vigil

WFNX is a 3,000 watt, P1 alternative AOR. The station is a three-time Gavin award winner for Alternative Station of the Year 1990-1993, and hopes are high for the fourth title in a row. The new PD is the former MD, Kurt St. Thomas. Troy Smith, the station's Production Director for the past three years, is now the new Music Director, but he retains the title and duties of Production Director until his replacement is found. Join us for an enlightening visit with Troy as we take a look at a format and style of production that's a little off the beaten path.

R.A.P.: How did you get started in radio?
Troy: I started at WXCI at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Connecticut, but I never wanted to be in radio. I was studying journalism law, playing football and running track. Then, at a home football game, I was sitting close to the announcer who called the game. Being the sports head I am, I said out loud, "I can do better than this guy," and someone from the radio station in the crowd said, "Well, why don't you go upstairs, sign up, and join the club?" I said, "I will." I went up there with the intention of being a play-by-play announcer. The WXCI Program Director was there and said, "Listen, what I really need is a DJ to go on the air this afternoon. If I give you a quick run through, can you master the board?" I said, "Alright, let's try it." From that point on I was hooked. I'd hang out doing production late at night, till two and three in the morning. When most kids were out at the college parties, my friends and I were at the radio station cutting sweepers, IDs and liners for the next day. We just dove into radio.

While I was at college in Danbury, I also worked at WLAD-AM doing weekend news, so I got a pretty good workout using AP and UPI audio feeds and mixing local stories around them. From there I went to WOMR in Provincetown, Massachusetts. I was there mainly to make a tape to get to WFNX. I had applied at WFNX in 1985, and the Program Director at that time said my skills were great, but that I should work on this, that and the other. When I asked him for advice, he suggested I do community radio, and that's when I looked up WOMR. They gave me a morning shift from 6 to 9, then they began putting together a news department. Having served as assistant to the news director in college, I went for it and got the gig as Associate News Director.

I was there for about six months when a brand new station came on called WPXC. I was hired by Jack Brady, who at that time was the voice of Cape Cod, and I really consider him a mentor. He had some excellent advice for me about getting into radio, and he's probably responsible for me starting in Boston. I was at WPXC for about six months. I was doing overnights and was also Production Director -- not by title, but I held the responsibilities. Then I moved to Boston and sent WFNX a tape. The next thing I knew, I was the Listings Coordinator/Public Services Director for WFNX.

R.A.P.: What's a Listings Coordinator?
Troy: That involves something we do that most stations probably don't normally do. We have a minute or two every hour which is completely devoted to upcoming events like concerts, plays, benefits, movies, things along those lines. My responsibility was to write these one or two minute promos. I came up with the information from listings people would mail in about what their clubs or organizations were doing. I'd check out the newspapers, the nightlife scene, shake a lot of hands and create our listings that way. A lot of the people who listen to us own businesses. In addition to advertising on our station, they also send us mailings about what's happening with their business, and they can get that in the listings.

The Listings Coordinator position was created by our former Program Director, Max Tolkoff. He called me his utility player -- I could fill in for news, do any air shift, and I could do production. But in order to get me hired full-time, he had to create a position. So he came up with the Listings Coordinator which is a position that has been in existence at the station for over five years now. When I left that position to take on the Production Director's job in 1990, it went to somebody else.

R.A.P.: WFNX is an Alternative Music station. Describe this format for us and describe your "alternative production."
Troy: The National Association of College Broadcasters convention was in Providence this past weekend. Kurt St. Thomas, our present Program Director, and I went down there. We were on a panel called, "What is Alternative?" We had a difficult time explaining what alternative is. It's not a relative term any more. It was ten years ago because the music and format style was an alternative to the classic AOR, to the CHR, and to the AC that was being played. However, ten years down the road, we're not so much an alternative anymore. We're almost part of the mainstream. So it's difficult to explain to people exactly what alternative music or an alternative format is.

In terms of production, we are an alternative format because we are extremely different from the norm. We are different in that what we do and how we do it is not done by any other format. We don't hear it, and we listen to everybody nationwide. I especially listen to the tapes of people who send in their production on the RAP Cassettes.

It's hard for me to explain what our alternative production is. I guess it's best just to listen to this month's Cassette. This might give you an idea. I hope it spawns an idea for anybody working in any market to make their production better. Hey, if I worked at an AC station and I figured that Designing Women, Home Improvement, and Rosanne were the three shows that my audience probably watches on TV, then I would go for drop-ins -- funny, funny lines from those shows -- and incorporate them somehow in the production that I do, not reproducing those lines but actually taking those sound bytes and putting them into the commercial. Let's say that you're a homemaker listening to this AC station, and you hear this commercial with a familiar drop-in. You'll say, "Hey, I watched that last night," or "That's the guy from Home Improvement!" All of a sudden, you have a connection with people. Radio is not what it was twenty years ago. We need to give people a reason to listen to radio because they're more apt to go to TV. That's what I try to do in my production. I try to relate to those TV watchers because I guarantee they are watching TV as well as listening to the radio. I try to relate to them and make them somehow relate to what they're hearing, and that is what entices them to go see that advertiser. You can sell, sell, sell all you want, but if you don't relate to your audience, you're not going to sell anything.

I have this problem with the record stores in town. They just want to make simple commercials full of words and occasional music cuts from whatever records are for sale that week. But anybody in town can do the same thing. I ask, "What's different about your store that you want to get across in your commercial?" If there's nothing different, then you produce the same commercial but you make it different. How? The sound. The image. We redesign that whole sound, the whole image of that record store so that it sounds cooler than cool, so our listeners say, "Hey, there's only one place to go buy records. These guys sound very hip!"

We've had this situation with HMV records, which is a European record mogul who is now working their way into the United States. They're competing against Tower Records and Strawberry's Records, the big giants in the nation, and they wanted something different. So, we designed a commercial around everything they do in that store -- listening posts where you can listen to the CD before buying it, a DJ who spins the music in the store so you can hear it, separate sections for classical, jazz, rock, soul, completely walled off sections where you can go to speak to experts who know about this music. They talked to us first about how we were going to design the commercial, then they designed the store that way. Now everybody goes to that store. They're not a typical record store anymore.

When you come to 'FNX, it's not going to be typical. It's cutting edge. It's modern. It's nineties. We're not following typical standards for production as you've known them for the last twenty years. Our stuff's going to be completely different. It's going to be wacko and not wacky, and it's still gonna get our audience down to your store to check it out because it will sound like we're endorsing this particular store when, in fact, we're not. We're just blowing them away with our production.

R.A.P.: You're now the Music Director and Production Director until you find a new Production Director. Do you expect to leave production behind you altogether as you move into the music department?
Troy: The main production load will be given to the new Production Director. But our Program Director, Kurt St. Thomas, who was our former Music Director, was also Production Director of the station for almost four years, and I have been Production Director of the station for a little over three years. Between us, we take care of most, if not all, of the image production. We also have clients who have worked with us for years whose spots we still cut. So the job responsibilities will change as I go into music, but the production responsibilities, the ones that I enjoy most, I'll retain.

R.A.P.: Excluding your MD duties, as Production Director at WFNX, what are your responsibilities and what help do you have in that department aside from Kurt?
Troy: I'm responsible for everything on the air that is not live, whether that's a sweeper, a spot, an ID, or a recorded promo. I manage a staff of eight people. I cut three to four spots a day. I'm not as intensely spot heavy as your average Production Director because I often have my hands in other things like cutting image production for the station. It's very easy for me to be able to hand off the simplest of straight reads to my staff, and we have a very intense focus on not having one voice dominate our production. We like to have as many different people involved in the production as possible, though it is commonplace for one jock to be the voice of a particular client.

In addition to the obvious production responsibilities that a Production Director would have, I also oversee, to a limited extent, the work of the copywriter. I also work very closely with our Traffic Manager, constantly updating the existing relationship between traffic and production, exchanging ideas that might ease up the number of errors and discrepancies that occur.

R.A.P.: Are the jocks the only producers on staff?
Troy: There's the air staff and also the existing Listings Coordinator. There's also the Program Director and our copywriter. All of these people are capable of cutting commercials.

R.A.P.: So you have eight or so people who can actually go into the studio, sit down and produce a commercial from the script, add the music, dub it to cart...the whole works! Is the quality of production with so many producers up to par?
Troy: Yes. I'm all over them if it's not. I'll make them re-cut it if it's not good.

R.A.P.: Even the PD?
Troy: Even the PD. And that's the joy of it. He's the former Production Director of the station, so he knows better. He can't get by as perhaps a part-timer could and use the excuse of, "Well, I didn't know this or that." That's probably the only time I get the upper hand, though.

R.A.P.: How many production rooms are there?
Troy: We have a main studio and a backup studio. The backup studio is very ancient. In the main studio we have an Otari 4-track, an Otari MX-5050 half-track, one cart machine, two CD players, a DAT machine, a compressor, a Yamaha SPX-90, and a 4-track recording board. We kind of piecemealed the main production studio together, and we have an extreme catch 22 where we're constantly crying for new equipment, but our production is average to outstanding. Our owner will say, "Well, you guys are doing great work. Why do I need to give you more stuff? I guess I have the Production Director's nightmare where I'd love to have the better equipment, but right now we're doing fine with what we have. Our backup production studio is simply two Otari MX-5050s, two cart machines, a couple of turntables, and that's all. It's very limited, but it gets the simplest of productions done. I like to go into that room once in a while. It's archaic, but it really helps me to keep track of the basic cut and splice production and respect it. I hate sending someone back into that room, and I know if they could have the 4-track, they could take care of the spot with no problem. But because they're in that back production room, they have to use both half-tracks. They have to have one hand on the turntable and one hand on the cart machine -- that old college-style production. It really helps you to respect and appreciate modern technology.

R.A.P.: Are there any plans to upgrade to a digital workstation?
Troy: As a matter of fact, we just had a demonstration on a digital eight-track just a few weeks ago. It was really disappointing to come out of that demonstration and have to go back into the 4-track room because you know if you could just have that digital eight for five minutes you could take care of twenty minutes of 4-track work. Fortunately, Kurt St. Thomas knows the importance of having this equipment, of bringing ourselves up to scale with other stations in Boston. Again, it's very difficult for us to say we need this when we're doing fine with what we have. We'll have to have a major problem before we can say, "You know, we could have solved that problem if we had a better backup production studio or a bigger or better main production studio."

These things are on the "wish list" for now. Hopefully, I'd say within the next twelve to eighteen months, we will upgrade to a digital eight because we're looking for a new Production Director, and they all seem to have digital eight experience. Once we get this person, we'd like to keep him or her happy. Plus, our image production would be awesome -- the things that we could do.

We are fortunate to have production people who know how to get the most out of a 4-track, who are willing and able to be creative, but their creativity is limited once they master the 4-track machine. They want more, and that helps to fuel the fire to get better equipment. But, in the meantime, they're doing outstanding work on the equipment we have, and I'm sure the owners of the station would rather put that money elsewhere if possible. Our management really appreciates and understands what our needs are, and it's just a matter of financing to have those needs satisfied. We do have a working, functional production room. Yes, it could be better, but what we have now is doing a great job for us.

R.A.P.: What is the basic concept, the basic premise of your image production?
Troy: I think our intent is to grab the ear, like MTV grabs the eye. We use a lot of drop-ins that are taken from old movies or currently running TV shows or cartoons, anything that talks about music or radio. It connects the audience with the image we're trying to portray, and that is: we're watching exactly what you're watching, and we understand what grabs you, what makes you listen. We try to interpret that into an image ID. We don't go for the generic sound effects like that electronic CHR sweep or the AOR guitar crunch. We're looking for sounds that are unique, that are different, that make you go, "Wow, that was really cool; I gotta hear that again." We'll cut and splice a fifteen-second bed and dump it down to the 4-track on two tracks to keep it in stereo, and then on the other two tracks, we'll flange the voice back and forth, throw sounds back and forth, something to grab the ear. It's a difficult piece of production to try to explain. It's best to hear it.

R.A.P.: What are some basic criteria you keep in mind when producing a promo?
Troy: Originality and consistency. Originality in that I'm always trying to come up with something never heard before. Consistency in not being a geek in one ad or one promo and then the straight guy in the next. If you're gonna be the cool guy, then be the cool guy and just vary that theme rather than change that theme completely. We don't have a limit on the music we'll use. I mean, we are an alternative formatted station, but we use anything from rap to rock to soul to extended remixes of dance tunes -- anything we can find to get an up-tempo, energetic, "grab your ear" type of sound.

R.A.P.: I take it the station is not too concerned with the copyright infringement situation we often discuss in RAP.
Troy: That has come up a number of times, especially in this market. The only time it really comes up in concern is when a client wants to buy the spot and go national or regional with it. They want to know what kind of protection they have as far as music beds are concerned or talent involved. We use things directly off the TV set in commercials. For example, when Tony Bennett was on the MTV Awards with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, he said something very funny about dressing right and being in a dancing mood. We should probably call MTV and ask them if it's okay that we use that, but since we use it on such a limited basis and don't use it to make any profit, we're not really concerned with having someone balk about it. If they do balk about it, then we'll take it off the air. But in the five years I've been here, we haven't had that problem ever. No one has ever called and said, "Hey, that's mine or that's ours, and you have to pay me for it or get it off the air."

I've contacted everyone from AFTRA to other radio stations who sell their spots, and they say kind of the same thing, at least for this market anyway. It doesn't seem to be as intense or upsetting as it would, perhaps, in another market. I'm sure this would be a very difficult thing to try to do in Los Angeles where a lot of these drop-ins originate from TV shows produced out there. But, for us in Boston, it hasn't been a problem.

As far as music goes, take for example the new Jimi Hendrix album that came out. There is a particular track by T. M. Dunn on there that we wouldn't play on the station, but we'll use it as a bed in a commercial. The record company up here sees that as another way of getting the song on the air. We're not playing it, but they can say, "Hey, that's our song. It's on the air at 'FNX." It's a unique position. If we were selling these commercials and making huge profits off them, we would have some problems. But the local representatives of the record labels who deal with us, they hear our stuff all the time, and they're not concerned at all with it.

R.A.P.: Do you have any production libraries that you use?
Troy: We don't subscribe to any, and we are offered libraries on quite a regular basis. We just don't have a need for that type of music. I think those beds are produced with the CHR, the AOR, or the AC station in mind, and because we are an alternative format, we don't use the same ploys that other stations might use with regards to a music bed to entice someone to come down to the store. For example, we have a client who has been doing business in town for a little over twenty years, and I hear his commercials on other stations who probably do use a production library CD to supply the music bed. But, when it comes to trying to get us to sell his product on the air, he is like a lot of our clients who simply say, "I don't understand your format at all, but I want to sell to your audience. Use whatever you think will get your audience into my store." They're being very open and honest. So we take what might be a straight read with a generic music bed on another station in town, and we'll just deliver bullet points through the whole commercial -- a sentence here, a sentence there - and use some big time music like Depeche Mode or The Cure or Talking Heads or Pearl Jam. The same message gets across to our listeners as it does to a listener somewhere else.

At some stations, their commercials are hype to the point where they're doing sixty-four seconds worth of copy in sixty seconds, trying to get every simple detail into the spot. We're so focused on the image of 'FNX that we worry about the image of the person we're doing business with, as well. Like the spots for our club nights -- they say very few things. We don't load it down with "DJ So and So spinning all the great tunes" and "there's a wet tee shirt contest" or this, that or the other. We let the commercial sell itself -- great music, you can afford to get in the door, these are the nights they're open, and here's the cool image commercial that you'll like and appreciate and that will get you down to the club.

R.A.P.: Do you or any of the other producers ever go on client calls? Does your copywriter?
Troy: I remember reading in RAP a few months ago about the copywriter at WMXB, Holly Buchanan [July 1993 RAP Interview]. She brought out a very good point about being more than a Copywriter/Continuity Director, about how she wanted to increase her hours calling on clients. That's what we're trying to do now with our copywriter, Greg Weimer. In the past, our copywriter has not gone out very often, if at all, with the Account Executive on the call. I'd like to see Greg go on client calls. He used to be our promotions assistant and has a good picture of what the station is all about and how to write that copy. He's from the MTV generation. He's very bright and very fast, and I want him to be out there more with the Account Executive.

As Production Director, the only time I go out on that call is when it's like the bottom of the ninth with two outs and we need a hit. More often than not, the client is advertising with us, knows about us, and there's not too much hard sell that they need. But those that do, that's probably when I'll just pick up the phone and give them a call, not to try to push them into buying us, not to try to do anything more than just find out what their needs are and find out what they really want to achieve in their commercial.

Sometimes the Account Executive will say to me, "Joe So-and-So from So-and-So restaurant wants you to come down and have dinner and check the place out," or "Joe So-and-So from So-and-So fitness club wants you to come down and work out for an hour and get an idea." I like that, not just because it's a perk, but it really does give me an opportunity to see for sure what I need to do and what direction I need to go in with that client.

R.A.P.: Do you have copy deadlines, and are they adhered to?
Troy: We have basic guidelines which all clients must follow. However, there are cases where things do come in at the last minute -- nothing new in the industry. But, for the most part, we try to stick to the guidelines we set for the station: three days for image production, two days for production that requires music cuts such as record store spots or concert spots, one day turnover for commercials that are simply straight reads with just a plain old music bed. The reason why we have these deadlines is because we like to give the client the opportunity to hear the spot before it goes on the air, in case they don't like what we did and want to change it. However, that doesn't always apply. In some cases there are clients who trust us, who know us, who will say, "I need this on the air tomorrow, can you do it for me?" If the workload allows for it, we say, "No problem."

R.A.P.: How is the relationship between production and sales?
Troy: It has improved. Four years ago we didn't have a relationship with sales. We are on two separate floors, so we don't interact with sales unless they come upstairs to see us about something or we happen to be going downstairs to check out for lunch. That's a problem, and that's a problem that I've tried to alleviate through trying to be more in touch with the sales staff. When my production staff has completed a commercial, even if it's eleven o'clock at night and there's no one in the office, I want them to call the voice mail of that Account Executive and say, "Hey, your spot's done, and it will be in the rack tomorrow morning in case you want to play it for your client." I'm trying to get them more involved.

When I first took over the Production Director's job, our sales staff was a staff that knew a lot about the music and the format of the station, but they really weren't sales oriented. Since then, we've hired people who are sales strong first. They understand how radio sales works. They understand the market. They understand all the numbers from cumes to demos, and the radio station kind of comes afterwards. Now that we're set with our sales staff, we're working on them to become more familiar with the station that they work at. And it's no slant against them. It's just that they may not have been listeners of the station when they applied for the job, and now they've become listeners of the station. This doesn't apply to the whole staff, just some members of the staff. It's my responsibility as Production Director to get them more in tune. I want them to be able to say when they're sitting in front of a client, "I think that this song would work great here," or "I think this type of production would work great here." It's my responsibility to get them more familiar with the image production that we do and the goals that we are trying to attain in that production.

R.A.P.: We've had a lot of talk in the pages of RAP lately about the "no talent fee" policy in place at many stations. It all started with a recent interview with Scott Statham in Lexington, KY [Aug. 1993 RAP Interview]. Do you have any thoughts on the subject?
Troy: I was shocked and blown away by the fact that they don't have talent fees, that he doesn't get paid for the work that he does. I will say that one of the very good things about Max Tolkoff, our old Program Director, was that he insisted on us being paid for the talent. I'm a firm believer in that, and if you work in a market or industry where you do not get paid for the work that you do, then you should not give out the work, whether it's policy of the station or not. That's your work. That's your bloodline, and that's your bread. People owe you for that. Whatever you charge them is up to you, but you should be paid for the work that you do. It would be like working as a mechanic in town. If there are four other mechanics in town and they all do the work for free, who's getting paid? That client's still walking away with a car that's fixed, but no one is getting paid for it.

I wouldn't go into a market like Lexington if that were the situation. If you're going to be Production Director, you are going to get free-lance work, and you are going to want to get paid for it. If you have to work extra hours and not be paid for those extra hours, especially if they're outside work, then you might want to reconsider another production gig and stay out of that market completely.

R.A.P.: What advice would you offer Program Directors who want to get more quality, creative work out of their production staff?
Troy: My suggestion to them would be that they be more in touch with the production department and get an understanding of exactly what the production department has to go through to get spots on the air. I've worked for Program Directors who don't know that. All they understand is the bottom line. While that is beneficial to the station financially, it's detrimental to the Production Director, and it makes them not want to do the job. If I'm Program Director, my Production Director should not have to come in until eleven o'clock or twelve o'clock in the morning. Why? Because I don't want them thinking, "I've been here since seven o'clock; I've gotta be out of here by five." I want them to be able to take that last minute piece of production the Account Executive has just hustled in at five after five, and still be able to give it the same focus and care they would with a spot that comes in at one o'clock.

If I were Program Director, I would have my copywriter in by nine o'clock in the morning, my Production Director a few hours after that. The Production Director at 'FNX carries a big burden as far as making us sound as good as we possibly can, and I wouldn't want to add any more pressure on that guy by wearing him out because I'm not able to understand what is going on inside that production department. Little things can upset the whole day -- a client not showing up on time, an Account Executive getting one phone number wrong in the spot, incorrect date information provided by the client, stuff like that that's not even our fault. Simple things like that can throw you off a couple of hours.

I also think it's important for Program Directors to understand how important it is to be up to date with equipment. I think it's important that they understand how the production department relates to the business itself. It's not just a commercial making machine. There are more factors involved in having a functional production department in a radio station.

R.A.P.: If you had every salesperson in the industry listening to you, what would you say to them on behalf of Production Directors and the production staff?
Troy: I'd say that the Account Executive must also remember who to stroke internally. There's no doubt that when they go out into the field there's a lot of stroking with regards to the client. They must also remember that when they get back to that office and that production piece is late.... Yes, it's money for the station. Yes, it's money for that Account Executive, but the person who has to stay late and the person who has to do that spot does not get paid any more. They have a base salary, and that's what they get paid. It is important to respect and understand that the piece of production that you're hustling back for is going to take some time to produce; and while you're going to go home after you drop that piece off, someone's going to stay and do that work for you. It's very important that Account Executives understand that.

Example: I worked at a station where the Account Executives, if they came in with late stuff, would remember the person who had to do that work. They would come back with bleacher seats to Fenway Park to see the Red Sox play that night. "Hey, listen. When you're done with what you're doing for me, go see the Sox and have a great time. It's on me." I've also worked at stations where the Account Executive will come in and say to you, "I don't care what it takes. You get it done because this has to be on the air tomorrow morning!" You'll get more out of the production staff if you appreciate what they have to do to get your spot on the air.

The same works for the production staff. They also have to understand what the Account Executive is going through to get that spot on the air on time. It's just a matter of mutual respect internally. If you work together as a team, then there should be no problem when the Account Executive comes in at five after five and says, "I need this." Before they can finish that sentence, the production person should be saying to them, "No problem. Just let me have it. Let's get to it." That's the perfect scenario, of course, and that's what I'm trying to work toward as I take over the reins as Music Director, and that's what Kurt is trying to work toward as he takes over the reins as Program Director. We're trying to create that perfect world because we've been Production Directors. We know the problems that occur, and we don't want those problems to happen again. I think that's where we have the advantage.

R.A.P.: What advice would you have for people young in the business, in their first two or three years, who want to get into production in a major market?
Troy: They should do every piece of production that comes their way. They should ask to do every piece of production that doesn't come their way. They should be willing to stay and work as many hours as possible whether a spot needs to go on the air or not. Even if there are no spots to be done that day, they should be working on spots. Redo a spot that's already on the air. Constantly practice and be ready for that next step.

I was named Production Director at WFNX because I prepared myself for that opportunity. When that slot opened up, I was the natural fit for it because while the Production Director then was going out to lunch, I was going into his production room, and even though I only had an hour, I got the most out of that hour. I was constantly volunteering myself to do dubs, and you can put this in bold print: YOU CAN NEVER DO ENOUGH DUBS. You will always have to do a dub, no matter if you are putting your commercial on the air or some other agency spot, or a promo. I took advantage of that hour to learn the machines, to learn the 4-track, to learn the board so that when the opportunity came and I was assigned that intense spot that had to be produced, I could say, "I'm ready for it."

If you bust your butt as much as you can, doing every ounce of production you can, or volunteering for it, or sitting in with that Production Director and watching him or her do that work, then you're going to move in the industry a lot faster. You're going to be ready for it. We're looking for a Production Director right now, and we're receiving tapes from people who are really not ready for it. The simple reason why is because they haven't paid attention to what it takes to get to that next step. They're sending tapes to us that have nothing to do with our format. They're not paying attention to the job they are applying for. They're not doing any research. So they immediately do not become candidates for the job. You can have all the experience you want, but if you don't have an understanding of the format, you're not going to be able to sell that commercial to that client because you're not going to know your listener. You're not going to be able to entice that listener to come down and go to that store. What might work in alternative format won't necessarily work in a classical format. It won't necessarily work in an AC format. You should know what you're getting yourself into. At the same time try to do as much production as possible to keep yourself technically sharp.