R.A.P.: Are there any plans to get rid of the carts and go to digital storage for all three stations?
Greg: We've been evolving continually, and we've added a digital hard-disk playback system that we're using right now on Hot 105. We have plans later in 1995 to bring this system on line with Coast. It's the Computer Concepts DCS system.
R.A.P.: What other equipment changes have been made?
Greg: We've done a lot of studio "evolving," and we had good facilities to start with. We have three production rooms. Two of them are 8-track. One of them is a very, very nice 2-track utility studio. When I say very nice, I mean you've got every piece of peripheral gear in there you could possibly stand.
The changes we've made? First of all, we do a tremendous amount of archiving here, and not just commercials and promos. We have just about every Miami Dolphins game since the franchise started on tape. We moved all of that to DAT, which has finally put us into the twentieth century. Being able to store one football game on one DAT tape is absolutely outstanding, and, of course, the audio quality is superb. We originally had an 8-track and a 4-track room. We dismantled the 4-track room, brought it up to eight tracks using the same basic audio chain as the other 8-track room - same console, same mike processing, etc. -- and then we added the Roland DM-80. Hopefully, in 1995, we're going to take out the multi-track analog machine in the other room and equip that with the Roland also.
R.A.P.: How do you like the DM-80?
Greg: The Roland, I think, is one of the primo systems out there. What really impressed me about it was the learning curve. If you've ever done multi-track production in your life, even on a 4-track machine, you can sit down and immediately go to work with the Roland. You won't be using all the capabilities of the system, but it makes sense to you, and you don't have to be a computer geek in order to run it. Then, once you get more and more into the system, the capabilities are just amazing.
Of all the workstations we tested, the only two we really liked were the Roland and the Korg SoundLink, and the biggest consideration was we could buy two Rolands for the price of one SoundLink. The SoundLink is a great system. It has the same, and maybe in some cases a little better, capabilities than the Roland. But this is a business, and you have to deal with the reality of the money.
R.A.P.: It sounds like your studios are geared for the '90s.
Greg: Yes, and we paid a tremendous amount of attention to basic audio. By that, I mean we're using Neumann U89 microphones, not just some Electro-Voice RE-35s we brought up from downstairs. Our engineering department takes the extra steps to set things up right, like aligning our monitors with a real-time analyzer, so what you're hearing out of the monitors is dead flat. It's more of a recording studio setup than it is a radio production room setup.
We pay that kind of attention to basic audio because digital quality is frightening from the standpoint that any little blemish you may have in your basic audio chain that you really don't notice on that analog machine is going to come screaming through when you go digital. You're going to hear a distorted mike chain. You're going to hear a crunchy module in your console. A minor EQ problem is going to be glaring because you simply don't have the limitations of the analog machine to cover your butt for you anymore.
R.A.P.: Let's get back to the three station syndrome. What are some other surprises you came across?
Greg: I've always been a fairly organized guy. I found out when I got here I had to get even more organized. What I found was that when you move into the three station situation, everything increases exponentially; something that is a very small problem when you're working at a single station now becomes a very huge disaster simply because of the volume you're dealing with. For example, it's standard radio that on any given day an Account Executive is going to give you a production order that is not complete, or there's a problem with it, or a mistake -- something that makes it necessary for you to have to take it back to the Account Executive and find out what's going on. That's not a big deal when you're working at a single station because you might get one or two of those a day. Now, with three stations, you're no longer getting one or two of those a day, you're getting five or six or seven because instead of the five or six Account Executives and one Sales Manager you were dealing with, now you're dealing with eighteen or nineteen Account Executives and three Sales Managers. Suddenly, instead of spending fifteen or twenty minutes taking care of that one production order, you're spending two or three hours. You cannot spend your time on the small things. You cannot spend your time making sure cart labels are typed correctly or making sure that spots are dubbed correctly with the trip tone in the right place. That kind of thing has to be automatic. You simply don't have the time, energy, or brain cells to devote to it, and that means everyone in the department has to be paying a lot closer attention because those minor mistakes will kill you.
R.A.P.: What steps did you take to ease up these mistakes?
Greg: I've never been a real believer in deadlines. I know that sounds really strange, but it has always been my experience that if you set a deadline for a sales department, what usually happens is you create an attitude of "as long as I get something in by this deadline, it's okay. The fact that I could have turned it in four days earlier, that doesn't matter. I just got to get it in by that deadline." For that reason I've really never believed in them. Here, it becomes critical. We sat down with sales management, worked out a reasonable set of guidelines, or, as they like to refer to it, a reasonable set of minimum expectations. And we have to enforce them very firmly. You can't function under the single station philosophy of "yeah, we've got this set of deadlines and then we spend all day making exceptions to them." Once again, because of the volume, this simply can't happen.
We looked at the systems and how work was actually getting from the sales department or from the Program Directors to the production department. We had to become more like a business as opposed to catching me in the hallway and saying, "Hey, man, we need this commercial for this bank, and it needs to sound kind of like this." There's a form for that which has to be filled out and turned in, and it flows through our production system a certain way. You simply can't remember what twenty salespeople said to you in the hallway on your way to get a cup of coffee. Sometimes we give the impression of being horribly nit picky, of being horribly inflexible because we are enforcing those guidelines and enforcing those rules a lot, but that has to happen. You can't deal with the exceptions all day. If you do, you're going to find you're spending eight or nine hours a day making exceptions, dealing with problems, putting out fires. It's going to be seven o'clock at night, and you haven't started on your daily work yet, and you're not in a mood to be creative after all that.