R.A.P.: How many production rooms are there at the station and what's in them?
George: There are two rooms. We have an analog 8-track room, and then we have the digital room where we have the ProTools system. There are a couple of analog 2-track machines in the digital room as well as some cart machines and two DAT machines. In the analog room we have a nice 8-track, a one-inch Otari 8-track. We also have a Harrison board and your standard radio station sound effects processing gear, the Yamaha SPX-90. There's also one DAT machine as well as two 2-track machines.
I have such a production load on me during the day, I have had a hard time trying to get in to learn to use the ProTools machine to the point where I feel comfortable using it day in and day out. So, I kind of stay in the analog domain during the day at the radio station, although I do know how to use the machine on simpler things like voice-over music with effects. I'll also use it occasionally for editing. I'm so used to the old school of analog, that I just feel more comfortable working with that. However, I've really come to enjoy the clean sound of digital recording with my DA-88, so there will probably be some changes in my attitude about working with digital. In fact, I'll probably pick up the Roland box, the DM-80 at the end of '94.
R.A.P.: For the station, or for yourself?
George: Probably for myself. I have a tendency of getting a lot of gear and sound effects for myself because sometimes it's really tough to get that kind of stuff budgeted in at the station. We've just been taken over by a new company, and I'm sure it wouldn't be a problem with the company we're owned by now. But in the past, I just wanted the production to excel, and I didn't want to wait until it was budgeted in. So, I went ahead and bought the stuff myself because I could keep it and use it wherever I went.
R.A.P.: Back to the ProTools system for a minute. How long has the system been at the station?
George: It has been at the station for only about six months.
R.A.P.: Is there anybody else at the station using the system?
George: Yeah. We have another production guy who works in the evening. His name is Roger King, and he uses it from time to time. But he's kind of like me. When we first got the machine, we thought, "All right! This is it!" And we were both grabbing at each other to get through the door to get at the unit first. Then once we both got in there.... Well, we had someone from DigiDesign come in to give us the one-two through it, and we videotaped the session which was a good thing to do because we were able to go back and review it. But, because of the complexity of the stuff that we do, it really takes more time to do it with a 4-track set-up. Roger probably uses it maybe twenty-five percent of the time, and I probably use it twenty-five percent of the time. I'll tell you who really takes to it a lot are the interns we have who are real computer hackers. Those guys get in there and they play around with it a little bit. Our Continuity Director is also quite a computer hacker, and he gets in there. It just seems to me that ProTools, although it is an excellent machine, is designed more for someone who is a computer buff more than a recording engineer. That's the way it seems to me.
You have the Roland machine, the Korg SoundLink, and of course the DSE-7000 -- those are all kind of designed for people who are making the transition from analog to digital, and these units make that easier, I think. I go and do sessions at a studio that uses the Korg SoundLink, and I mean, it looks a lot easier than the ProTools. I've had a demo on the Roland unit, and I really like that system, too.
R.A.P.: Are you basically leaning toward the Roland based on the demo you had?
George: Yeah. But I want to look at it some more before I take any further steps. The only thing I don't like about the Roland unit is the memory that it's packaged with. It has two scuzzies -- one for each 4-track section -- and it seems like you're going to immediately have to expand on the memory. One of the things I liked about the DA-88 was that you can, for nine or ten dollars, buy a high quality, 8-millimeter tape and quickly have a hundred and ten more minutes of recording time which would represent about four reels of analog tape.
R.A.P.: True, but with the DA-88 you lose the workstation editing capabilities.
George: Well, yeah, you do lose that ability to move things around. So, the best of both worlds -- and this is almost a direct quote from the [DA-88] article -- would be to have both, to get the time code card for the DA-88 and sync it up with a workstation.
R.A.P.: You were promoted from Production Director to Creative Director a couple of years ago. How did your responsibilities change at that point?
George: I don't do as much commercial production now. I still write and produce a lot of the commercial material that airs, but what I primarily do now is work on the sound of the station. I produce bumps and promos and elements that are -- I guess you could say -- the ear candy in between the songs that are oh so familiar in the classic format. It's kind of like constantly putting a new package on an old present. It's a lot like what Nick At Night does. You've seen Dick Van Dyke, how many episodes, how many times? But, with the different and varying packaging, you give it the appeal to make you want to tune it in again.
R.A.P.: You said Roger King, your other production guy, works in the evening. What does he do?
George: We run the Grease Man's syndicated show in the morning. He airs his show out of Los Angeles in afternoon drive. So, what we do is get the feed straight from the satellite in the evening, and we edit out evening references and insert day references. That's where Roger King comes in. He takes that show and turns an afternoon talk show into a morning show.
R.A.P.: That sounds like it would take a little time to do.
George: Yeah, it does. We basically "high-five" each day. He comes in and I go out like that old Warner Brothers cartoon with the two sheep dogs. "Good night, Sam." "Good night." He works from about four to midnight or whenever he gets done, then I come in at six in the morning. I usually work until two, two-thirty. I work straight through. I don't take lunch. I may have someone go down and get me a sandwich or something, but there's no time to take an hour lunch. Our Program Director, Mike O'Connor, is a very production-intensive programmer that believes a lot of elements are needed on a radio station, especially in a classic format, and I agree. It has really been a lot of fun working with him, and I hope it continues to be a pretty good relationship. He's a driver, but he brings out certain abilities that enable you to keep on keeping on.