R.A.P.: Are you in charge of ordering supplies?
Greg: Oh, yes, and juggling those lovely budget figures, too. I go through the same process that all the rest of the department heads go through. In fact, we just finished it a couple of weeks ago. I carry all the supplies, the salaries for myself and my two guys, the music libraries for commercials and promos, even things like telephone expenses, shipping expenses, etc. for my department. I have to sit down and, for example, this year take my 1994 usage, and figure out what I need to do in '95, what kind of stock I'm going to need to keep because I stock the entire radio station. By that, I mean I stock the news department and programming department; everybody gets their audio supplies from me. And based on that, I have to come up with a figure and have to go sell it to the GM and the comptroller.
R.A.P.: Do you budget for equipment for production?
Greg: Equipment we do under a capital. Our equipment goes into the Engineering budget. The Chief Engineer actually makes the proposal for all needed equipment, but it's up to me, first of all, to sell it to him well enough that he feels comfortable going in and selling it to the General Manager. As far as selecting equipment for the production studios, that's something we do together. Now, if push ever comes to shove, my word means more, but we've got a real good relationship with our engineering guys here. We have three of them. We sit around a lot and talk about equipment. And even though we've already done our capitals for '95, we all pay attention to what comes out in the trades, to what we see ads for, and we kick around ideas on how we can possibly incorporate various things. Is this something we'd want to look at for 1996? We try to think about a year in advance.
R.A.P.: You have a great voice. You must be doing a lot of free-lance work.
Greg: Well, believe it or not, I sometimes find time to squeeze that in. I'm voicing for a lot of the Cox stations. I voice for WCKG in Chicago, WSUN in Tampa, and I do some voices occasionally for a country station even, WHKO, one of our stations in Dayton. And then I've got about eight other stations around the country, some of which I've been doing work for even back in Denver days. It's a lot of fun. In fact, my wife and I really got a charge out of driving from Denver to Boston recently and hearing me on about six different radio stations along the way.
R.A.P.: Do you have a studio at home for this free-lance work?
Greg: No. I do that stuff incredibly early in the morning before I start the day here. By incredibly early, I mean like five-thirty, six o'clock. With a voice like mine, it physically takes a lot of wind to move it, a lot of physical muscle work, and I'm not a very big guy. I've noticed that first thing in the morning my voice is in much better shape. It sounds really good. The resonance is there. By the middle of the afternoon you can tell I'm getting tired. You can tell I'm starting to wear it out a little bit by the end of the day. So I try, whether it's for the stations or free-lance, to do most of my voice work in the morning. It may be something I actually don't get around to producing until five or six that evening, but I'll try to get those tracks laid down first thing.
R.A.P.: What production libraries are you using?
Greg: Right now for promos and sweeps, we use Weapons and Money from Brown Bag on 'IOD. For Hot 105 we have Eclipse from Brown Bag. You can kind of tell I'm a Brown Bag fan. For commercial libraries for all the stations we use Sound Designer from FirstCom, and MegaMusic and Slam Dunk from TM Century. We consume libraries. In fact, in 1995 we'll be turning in a couple and picking up a couple more. You've got to keep them rotating in and out, especially, once again, because of the three station deal. If you think you burn cuts in a single station, come down here. We really go through libraries fast. It's amazing.
R.A.P.: Are you the type of producer who likes to use a different cut of music every time you cut a spot for the same client, or do you pick a single track as the theme for the client?
Greg: We will use the same music for a client only if we've established that piece of music as being directly associated with this account. For that to happen, first of all, it's got to be a very long run, and there's got to be something very unique about the music itself, such as punches, stabs, or some holes you fill or whatever, where you basically turn that cut into a thematic for that particular client. Kind of like the Oscar Meyer jingle, even though they don't sing it much anymore. Still, the minute you hear the musical logo, you know who it is. Now unless it has had that kind of an impact, no, we don't use the same music. But we do make very, very sure to rest cuts after they come off the air so that we don't have a commercial going off the air on Saturday, and on Monday another one going on with the same music bed. I think that sounds absolutely terrible.
R.A.P.: Do you keep track of what music bed is used for what client?
Greg: Absolutely. In fact I'm working on a couple of databases at home right now that are variations of one I put together in Boston where you could not only go through and call up cuts by category so you can find things very quickly, but you also have a provision to log in when you used it, who you used it for, and when it will die. It's a commercially available program called Q&A, and I just set up my own custom database in there. I actually started it in Boston because we used a tremendous amount of comedy services, and we had a lot of cuts on the comedy service that, while they weren't really what we were looking for to stand alone and play as a bit, there might be a two or three second drop in there that was absolutely perfect to go in a promo. So, I put all these things together and categorized them so that if I needed, say, some kind of funny Christmas drop, I could type in "Christmas" and it would tell me every drop that I had on file that had anything to do with Christmas, what it was about, where it was located, if I had used it before and, if so, when and for what.
R.A.P.: That's probably not a bad approach for anyone to use, setting up a custom database for their libraries. It's nice to get a library that comes along with some software to use, but you never get software that's going to include everything you have.
Greg: Absolutely. And it's never going to be completely customized for you so it will give you all the information that you particularly want. Q&A is just a basic database program, and it's a very easy program to work with. Anyone with any kind of computer knowledge can put a database together pretty easily if they just read the book. It took me half an hour to set up the database itself. Of course, the long part is entering the data. I did that over a period of time. The nice thing about Q&A is that it has a provision in it called "The Intelligent Assistant." Once you've set your database, you teach the Intelligent Assistant what your database is and what these fields really mean. Then, when you need information, you ask it in plain English. You type in, "How many cuts do I have with heavy lead guitar that sounds like ZZ Top?" and it pops up and tells you. I'm currently in the process of trying to get most of our music libraries and promo libraries on that. The TM stuff we got came with that kind of software, but it's basically usage software. It doesn't call up cuts that you need very quickly like that. As you can see, when you get into three stations, stuff that you used to do by the seat of your pants, you really have to start putting on paper or hard disk.
R.A.P.: What are some of your thoughts on the rapid changes in our industry?
Greg: I think the only thing we all need to keep in mind, as our GM is fond of saying, is that you can't do radio today the same way you did two years ago. The business is changing so drastically, and not just in the realm of technology. We all know that's changing. We all pay a lot of attention to that, but the nature of the business itself -- primarily because of triopoly, duopoly, mega-opoly -- is evolving, and I feel the position of the Production Director is evolving at the same time. A couple of years ago, it was unheard of to have a guy like me reporting directly to the General Manager on department head status equal with a PD and a Sales Manager and running my own department with the autonomy that I have here. That was absolutely unheard of. That's pretty much going to be the vogue as time goes on, and what that means for us is there are skills we've got to develop. We've got to take the time and the concern and the energy that we all spend on our creative skills and apply some of that towards your organizational skills, your time management skills. I recommend to people if they've never had to sit down and do a departmental budget before, go take some classes at a community college. Learn how it's done. You're going to be expected to do it. If you've never had people reporting to you, if you've never had people working for you before, if you've never done an interview before, if you don't know how to do these things, now's the time to learn because you're going to be asked to very soon.
And at the same time, the great part of this, I feel, is that the image of the Production Director is evolving, too. We're finally, thank God, starting to move out of that area where the Production Director was that whiny little guy down the hallway who was always saying he couldn't do this because he needed that. That's coming to an end, and I think we're finally starting to earn some of the respect that we really deserve. It has taken a while.