R.A.P.: How did you land such large accounts in a small market?
Scott: I met the Regional Marketing Manager for Cellular One in Boise. He happened to be in charge of the entire northwest, and he mentioned that McCall Cellular, who owned it at the time--Cellular One has since been sold to AT&T -was using a big brokerage firm out of Portland to do all their radio stuff nationwide. He felt they were being ripped off, and, of course, they were. And he didn't like their ideas. So, he basically said if I could give him three solid ideas, and if he liked them, he thought he was in a position to get me the biz. Of course, it didn't hurt that at the time I was like the number one Cellular One client on the planet. I was spending a lot of money on my cellular phone bill.
So, myself and a couple of guys who subcontracted with me, sat down and wrote some scripts. We pitched it to them and they flat out loved it. And even though we were a small company, we had a pretty impressive layout. We had nice offices, so we looked professional. We had the whole bottom floor of this downtown office building, about ten rooms. Anyway, I guess it was enough to impress them to trust us with the account. So we did the production and got great results for them. During the year we worked with them, they had a thirty-six percent increase in sales. Then we started doing a lot of jingles and music, and we got a break. We did a project for Hewlett Packard. We did all the original music for some of their training videos that they made out of their Boise, Idaho office. Their laser printer and disk drive division is in Boise. That got us a name. We were doing a little bit of national work and a lot of mom and pop work. I think you ran some spots on The Cassette for some little things I won a couple of awards for, and I got a runner-up award at the Boise Ad Federation for a spot for the Mason Jar Restaurant. It wasn't major stuff, but it was better than anyone was doing in local radio. You have to keep in mind that a top of the line production facility in a Boise radio station is a 4-track. Most of those guys are doing production on old 2-track reel-to-reel machines. If they want a phase effect, they kind of put their thumb on the reel. They're cutting and splicing tape. So, we had better equipment than most of them.
R.A.P.: What made you decide to pull up roots after all those years in Boise and move to Minneapolis?
Scott: My wife's a writer, and she got a job offer here in Minneapolis. I was trying to focus more on the national production work anyway, and I felt I could do that from anywhere. So we moved to Minneapolis two years ago. And the other factor, of course, was that there are three hundred and sixty-six ad agencies here, and they all need radio production. And of the three hundred and sixty-six, there are some pretty big ones: Campbell, Methune & Esthy; BBD&O; Mona, Meyer, McGrath & Gavin. Those are just some of them. There are lots of agencies with two and three hundred AEs here. This is a major advertising market.
After we got here, I began getting a lot of work from the Christian radio market. It was kind of a conscious choice to go after it. It's a very under-served market. You interviewed Sterling Tarrant recently, and he does a column for Radio And Production, too. There are some guys like him who are doing good work in the Christian radio markets, but you very rarely see guys who do voice work, guys who do liners and sweepers and spot production, going after the Christian market. They'll break their necks going after the standard secular radio stations across the country. They'll mail all kinds of stuff to them. I'll bet every radio station in the country gets tons of paraphernalia from little production houses across the country saying we can do this, that, and the other. But the Christian radio stations don't get that kind of stuff. There's basically two or three people doing it. Of course, I'm making statements against interests because after this runs, everybody in the world will try to do that, but that's okay. If they're good enough to get the work, they should get it. The Christian radio market is totally ignored and it's a huge market. There are two thousand Christian radio stations in America.
I work with a lot of the non-commercial Christian stations, and there are five hundred and fifty of those. They're supported much like Public Radio. I started doing work in that arena and instantly got well known and instantly started getting a large portion of the biz. So, basically, right now, about fifty percent of the work 30:60 Productions is doing is with Christian radio stations, and fifty percent is work with retail ad agency type clients. It's a weird mix.
I could try to go out and compete for spot production, promos, sweeper and ID production at stations in Dallas and LA, but there's a million guys doing that. So I decided to try to work with a market that I thought was under-served and, frankly, that needed a lot of help. And it's a good feeling to be able to produce stuff that actually makes a difference for these guys; it actually helps them. You know, when you're banging out liners and sweepers everyday, it's easy to take it for granted. But there are Christian radio stations where you have to explain to them what those things are and how they're used. So, it's more than money. You're actually meeting a need.
R.A.P.: Tell us about the studio you built with the loan.
Scott: One of the things that has helped us to be more efficient is that we've gone all digital here. But, what I got back then with the loan is not what I've got now. The first studio had an Otari 8-track and a Tascam board. We had the Alesis QuadraVerb, Alesis 3060 compressor, and EV RE20 mics. And we had a lot of MIDI gear. We had a computer dedicated to running CakeWalk. We had a Roland FP8 digital piano, a Roland SCC1 synthesizer, and an Alesis SR16 drum module. Then we got a Roland GR1 guitar synth, and we spent a ton of money on libraries.
That was in Idaho. Then, when we came here, we went all digital. Now we're using a DigiDesign Session 8. We still have all of the MIDI equipment, and we've added a Digitech TSR-24 effects box. It's a great unit. And now we've got a Symetrix 528E digital voice processor. We have two computers, now. One's dedicated strictly to the music and Session 8, and one to administrative.
R.A.P.: What type of computer are you using for the Session 8?
Scott: We're running a Pentium 90.
R.A.P.: 90 megahertz! I'll bet that takes a big fan to keep it cool!
Scott: Yeah. We've got an iso-booth now. We had to because of the fan noise. There are two fans actually. There's one right on the Pentium chip inside, then there's the standard blow-through fan on the power supply. Almost all of the Pentiums have a separate fan because they run so fast. But in terms of the computer side of the business, if you're going to run something like a Session 8, there are so many things that make a greater difference than the processor. There are things like RAM and the ability to have good graphics which is based on having really fast on-board graphics cards with separate memory. Our on-board video graphics cards have 16 megs of RAM with accelerators. There's no waiting for a wave form to be drawn. It's instant and that makes a difference.