R.A.P.: For all three stations, would you say your production department is producing more commercials or more promos and other imaging material?
Greg: I would say about thirty percent more for station imaging. 'IOD is an absolute monster. We have a tremendous amount of promotional work that has to be done daily. For example, we have five high profile air talents on the air every day. Immediately when they get off the air, we cut a very creative, very compelling promo about their show for the next day to try and recycle audience from the other day parts. We have the Miami Dolphins and the Miami Hurricanes. This weekend, for example, is one of the biggest football weekends in South Florida because the Dolphins are playing Buffalo, their arch rival, and the Hurricanes are playing Florida State, the national champions. That's something that has to be sold on the air. That's just the daily stuff. There's more.
Even though we are an entertainment based, humor based news/talk station -- we don't talk about the State legislature; we could care less what the Governor is doing today unless he happened to fall out of bed, in which case we're going to laugh at him -- we still maintain a very high news image. We are recognized as the news radio station in Miami. We maintain a very high weather and sports image. All of that has to be maintained through recycler promos.
And then you add on top of that special things which come up now and then. We were one of the stations giving away tickets to the Eagles concert a few months ago. We do very bizarre promotions with our air talent. Our morning guys did a week long promotion to win the Eagles tickets called The Toilet Bowl Opera in which you stick your head in your toilet and sing. So there's a tremendous amount of every day stuff that has to be done for 'IOD. And then you add in what I would call the normal promos that you would do at any radio station for special events.
Hot 105 needs a large amount of day-to-day maintenance, but not anywhere near what 'IOD needs. You have the standard sweeper maintenance, re-entries from clusters which have to be freshened and produced from time to time. Hot 105 is also an extremely promotionally active radio station. We've got a major contest on the air right now called Megabucks where we're giving away $4,000 a day every day of the week except Thursday when we give away $20,000. Due to the nature of Hot 105 and the personality of Tony Kidd, the PD, we've got promos out the whazoo for any major contest like that. By the time it's all done on a month-long contest we'll probably have ten or twenty promos, not counting winners, not counting elements. It keeps you busy.
R.A.P.: Were Mark and your "dub-meister" already at the stations when you arrived?
Greg: No, I hired Mark in April of this year. We had a huge interviewing and searching process and found Mark working at WAXY 106 here in town. Kenneth actually came in through the back door. By that I mean it took me about a month after I got here to figure out we needed a dub-meister simply because you don't want to take two highly paid production guys and let them dub tapes all day. After about a month of slogging through the tapes every day, we made the decision to bring someone in part-time. Kenneth had kind of snuck in the back door helping out the AM producers. He wasn't on staff as far as the production department, but he was in the building. I interviewed about five guys for that position, and he beat all the rest. I think he's going to be an excellent production guy one of these days. Before he came in here to assist the producers, the man had never been in a radio station before, and to see what he's done the past two years is a lot of fun. It's kind of like watching myself develop years and years ago. And we try as hard as we can, both Mark and I, to not only show him what it is we do every day and how we do it, but to also challenge him, give him something he's never done before, give him something he may be a little unsure of. That's the only way you're ever going to learn it.
R.A.P.: Well, it sounds like you have the right number of people and the right people helping you with the three stations. How do you keep it all under control?
Greg: I can't emphasize communication enough. Communication is essential in this kind of an operation, not just inside the production department, not just between production and sales, but with everyone in the building. As an example, one of the other things you get hit with immediately when you walk into such an operation is that you don't get to listen to the radio station the way you used to. You're not seeing every piece of work come through your hands before it goes on the air. You're not monitoring every piece of work for its quality. There are simply not enough hours in the day, and you can't listen to the same radio station constantly. It takes me a day and a half to sample all three radio stations. I'll listen to one driving in to work in the morning, another going home that night, and the third coming in the next day. So, it's essential that your guys on the air, the Program Directors, the news people, anybody in the building, it's essential that they become your eyes and ears so they can say, "Greg, we've got a spot that sounds kind of funny. You think there might be something wrong with this cart?" You simply can't catch all of that stuff by yourself.
I always fancied myself as a pretty decent time manager until I got in here. I found out I really wasn't as good as I thought I was. Time management becomes absolutely essential. First of all, you have got to learn how to delegate, not just the workload -- that was fairly easy for me -- but also delegate the responsibility and delegate time. I had to get into a mindset that when someone comes to me with something -- let's say they want to have a creative meeting for one of their clients -- I have to remember they are not coming to me personally. They are coming to me looking for a production person. Then, it's up to me to decide, "Okay, is this something I need to be personally involved in, or is this something I should assign to Mark? Which one of us will be best suited to take care of this?" These sound like very small points, but I can tell you from experience, it's very easy at the onset to totally overload yourself, to be going to every brainstorming meeting with every client, wanting to produce every big commercial that goes on the air, wanting to produce everything that happens for the radio stations; and pretty soon you find yourself absolutely consumed and absolutely overwhelmed. You can't do that. You've got to learn to hand it off to other people, and you've got to be able to say to yourself, "This is something I don't need to be involved in. Either this is something I am not very good at, or this is not the best use of my talents." And that sounds very egotistical to say, but you've got to be greedy with your time.
R.A.P.: That sounds like one of the most important things you've had to learn.
Greg: Oh, absolutely. It goes even further. One of the things I carried over from my on-air days that helped me out a whole lot when I got here was that I was the "preparation monster" when I was on air. I literally was one of those guys who would spend six hours prepping a four-hour show. I ignored that for the first couple of years I was in production, then one day I said, "Wait a minute. If air people have to prep, where do production guys get off thinking that we don't have to prep?" And when I tell this to somebody, they say, "What are you talking about? How can you prep to do production?" Let's say I get a new promo production library in. Most of us will take that, listen to a few cuts of it, say, "Yeah, okay, fine," and stick it in the cabinet and not pull it out until we need it. I'll take that home, sit down with the tracking sheets, and literally spend several hours over a weekend at home listening to that entire library and making notes in the tracking sheets like, "Cut number seventeen would be a great effect for opening a contest promo that needs to be high energy," very detailed descriptions. I'll do that with everything that comes in, including commercial libraries. Let's face it, the descriptions you get for cuts on libraries really don't mean anything, or at least they don't to me. That's what I call prep because now when I need that particular cut from a library, I'm not sitting here while I'm actually producing the promo searching back and forth through my library trying to find the right cut. I've got six or eight possibles that I picked out months ago.
The same holds true with just how the daily work flows. Something as simple as my routine every morning. My ritual, I guess you'd say, is that I stock and prep all three of the studios because once I begin to work, once Mark begins to work, you don't want to have to stop in the middle and say, "Oh, jeez, where are the razor blades? I'm out. Oh, God, they're in the cabinet down the hallway." You want the room stocked and set up so when you sit down, you go to work, and you don't stop until the afternoon comes and you're finished.