Greg Fadick, Production Director, WIOD-AM, WFLC-FM, WHQT-FM, Miami, FL
by Jerry Vigil
At a furious pace, broadcasting companies are acquiring multiple stations in the same market. The duopoly craze continues to improve the bottom line by consolidating personnel, increasing workloads, and testing the boundaries of the work force envelope. What was the wave of the future is now the simple reality of today. For the Production Director involved in this reality, some things are certain. Things will change. There will be more work. And your personnel management, time management, and organizational skills will be put to the test. It's difficult to prepare yourself for something that was unheard of only a couple of years ago. So, it is extremely important to learn from those who have made the transition. Greg Fadick is one of the survivors. Join us as he shares his experience and provides invaluable insight for anyone about to take on an additional station for the first time.
R.A.P.: Tell us about your radio background.
Greg: I started out as a part-time jock on a country light bulb -- a 250 watt AM station in Pine Bluff, Arkansas in 1969. I worked as a part-time jock until I got out of high school, then I went full-time. I worked as an air personality for more years than I care to remember. I worked what we used to call progressive rock, and I worked a lot of CHR. I even worked at an urban station as a night jock for about five years.
I was a pretty good air personality, but in 1985 I came to the conclusion that my real strength was in the production room. And, luckily, at the same time, I was working for a PD who recognized the same thing, and I became the first off-air production guy in Little Rock, Arkansas. I spent a couple of years there, then I got the call to move to Denver and go to work for ABC at Y108. I spent about five years there, really absorbing a lot. That was my first major market gig. The PD at the time was Mark Bolke. Mark is a tremendous imaging guy. I thought I knew a lot about promos and imaging until I got to Denver, and Mark, in a very nice way, showed me how little I really knew.
From there I went to WAAF in Boston and really polished what I'd learned in Denver. Ron Valeri is the guy I worked with in Boston. Ron taught me a lot of concepts. One of my favorites was the concept of audio wallpaper, which is what you've got to make sure your work doesn't turn into -- the kind of stuff that's there, but you never really notice it. Ron got me more into the visual aspect of radio -- being able to create that theater of the mind we hear so much about. From there, I came down here to Miami.
R.A.P.: Was the third station in Miami acquired before or after you arrived?
Greg: I got here about a month before we took on the third station. They went looking for a new production team, and I came in as Production Director. The two stations we started with were WIOD, which is our ten thousand watt news/talker, and WFLC, which we refer to as Coast 97.3, a very light AC. Then the opportunity came up to purchase WHQT, Hot 105, from EZ Communications. They made the decision to buy in the fall of 1992. My actual first day was the first of December in 1992. We took control of Hot 105 right after Christmas.
R.A.P.: What was the initial impact of having three stations on your hands?
Greg: Well, none of us here had ever handled three radio stations before, and we knew we were in a learning situation. We knew we were in a mega-mistake situation. We were going to have to feel our way through it because, let's face it, even today, much less two years ago, there's no rule book on how to run three radio stations. Every situation has its little differences. We spent two years with a lot of trial and error, and we've come up with what we feel is a pretty good system for how things should go.
R.A.P.: What mistakes were made along the way?
Greg: I guess my biggest mistake was assuming that taking care of three radio stations was going to be basically the same as taking care of one radio station, only with an increased workload. It really doesn't work that way. You have the increased workload, but there's an entirely different thing going on. At a single station, you're very, very tight with the Program Director. You almost know what he's thinking when you see him walking down the hall. You're very deeply involved in everything the radio station does, as far as imaging and the sales effort. That really doesn't happen in a three station operation as I see it. You've got to be able to switch gears very rapidly. I have to be able to come in first thing in the morning and put together an "in your face lots of explosions slam your head against the wall" piece of work for WIOD, turn right around from that and do something that's still high energy but yet with an urban tilt and a more classy tilt for Hot 105, then be able to come right out of that and do something for Coast 97. You simply don't get into that single station groove. You've got to be able to immerse yourself completely in one station while you're doing a piece of work for that particular station. Then immediately, when you're finished, you've got to pull out of that and immerse yourself totally in the next radio station. There are lots of things going on around the building, but you just don't have the time and the brain cells to be as deeply involved as you'd like because you're taking care of another station at that time, and you can't play favorites.
R.A.P.: How is the production department set up, and what are your responsibilities?
Greg: We have what I call a two-and-a-half person department here. We have myself, a full-time "Assistant Production Director," and I put the quotes around that because Mark Hoffman's function is basically a Co-Production Director more than an Assistant. He does work directly for me, but on a day-to-day basis he just takes things and runs with them. My responsibilities are to handle all the imaging for WIOD and all the imaging for Hot 105. I handle about twenty percent of the commercial load, and I handle all the special projects which may come up such as sales demos and what have you. I also handle the administrative work of the department including the budgeting. Mark has a tremendous AC voice, and he handles our imaging work for Coast 97. Luckily, it's a fairly medium maintenance radio station. It doesn't approach the kind of maintenance that 'IOD and Hot 105 do. Mark also handles about eighty percent of the commercial load. We both handle a tremendous amount of copywriting.
Then we have a part-time guy, Kenneth Gramer, who works evenings for us. He is designated the dub-meister. He takes care of all of our tape dubs, does a lot of tagging work, a lot of archiving work, and that sort of thing. I advise anyone: don't get into a three station operation without a guy like that. You simply can't spend your entire day dubbing tapes and expect to get anything creative done, especially in a market like this where eighty-five percent of what goes on the air is coming from an agency. It's not unusual for us to have seventy, eighty different carts which need to be dubbed every night.