Ross McIntyre, Director of Creative Services, CKKQ-FM, 100.3 The Q, Victoria, B.C., Canada

ross-mcintyre-jan95by Jerry Vigil

Nestled on the south tip of Vancouver Island, midway between Seattle and Vancouver, is Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia. The population of Victoria and its surrounding cities is approximately 300,000. It's a small market, but you wouldn't know that by listening to local radio, particularly 100.3 FM, CKKQ. This month we check in with Ross McIntyre, the Director of Creative Services for "The Q." You've heard work from Ross on previous RAP Cassettes, and you've seen his name amongst the winners of RAP Awards on more than one occasion. Join us for an enlightening visit to small market radio outside the U.S. as we get a glimpse at what makes The Q a fun station to listen to, and a fun place to work.

R.A.P.: Where did you get your start in radio and how did you wind up at The Q?
Ross: I got my start on-air after a two-year program at the B.C. Institute of Technology in Vancouver. I spent a couple of years in Kelowna, B.C. working with a guy named Dale Baglo who really gave me a lot of production inspiration -- he still does. I came to Victoria to do air work at C-FAX and commercial and syndication production at Seacoast Sound. I stayed there for six years, developed a lot of technique, and learned about the jingle business. Then in late 1987, I was offered a job handling production and a midday shift at The Q.

The regular midday air shift lasted about six months, then production demands took over. I continued to pull host duties on daily artist features and album countdown shows up until a couple of years ago. Then I got too busy producing all of the liners and the bulk of the commercial work as well as writing and producing promos. So, finally, about a year ago, I got an evening producer who has made an incredible difference. I also get help from Scott James who writes reams of great stuff and does production for about an hour and a half early in the morning.

R.A.P.: What's a typical day like for you?
Ross: When I head into the studio, I start by working with our morning show producer, Rick Andrews, on promos and bits for Ed Bain's morning show. The rest of the day I'm voicing, producing, writing, managing projects, and coaching parts from various people, as they become available, to save for use alongside other talent. I've done a ton of two-character spots where, in real time, the players never really meet. That's one way we keep up the level of performance in creative at a small radio station. If you don't have the luxury of getting the best people for the spot in the same room at the same time, you can still make sure the right voices play the right roles by recording the copy elements according to the talent's schedule. To keep the delivery of one player's line in context with the overall spot, you have to be very careful with your coaching.

R.A.P.: A great deal of The Q's successful sound is due to its overall personality, an attitude that comes through in your promos and liners. Tell us a little about the station's approach to promotion.
Ross: We grind through massive amounts of promotion every week, and it's important to keep up the supply to meet the demand. Everyone is encouraged to offer creative input. We're really lucky to have a great group of thinkers -- people who understand what the personality of the station is as a whole -- all submitting ideas for liners or disposable promotions that we'll do because the idea is goofy enough for our audience. The audience has learned to expect it from The Q, to predict the unpredictable.

A couple of months back, when The Eagles had to postpone their Vancouver date, we needed a fast substitute promotion. Ed and Rick tossed out "What would you eat for a thousand dollars?" They basically wrote the promo as we brainstormed the idea. Forty-five minutes later, we had it on DAT. The PD loved it and secured the money. A week later, a guy sucked back 100.3 live worms for the cash! The stunt was cheap, stupid, and memorable, as was the promo; and we got a lot of feedback on both.

Another thing we try to do is quickly react to local events with our liners. For example, last summer, our drive guy, Dave Farough, got a call that a city official had decided to pull the radios out of all the city works trucks during a labor dispute. About ten minutes later, I came in with a deadpan liner that went something like, "The Q, enjoyed in vehicles throughout the city of Victoria - except those driven by city employees." It might only run for a day, but it helps to build a relationship with a local audience.

Our liners are an integral part of the station's personality. We don't believe in scaring people with big "in your face with a claim" liners. Our approach is light and cheesy with the tongue glued to the cheek. The only attitude you come away with is that these guys do not take themselves seriously and are not trying to save mankind as we know it.

The personality of the radio station revolves around one philosophy: Don't poke fun at other people unless you can poke fun at yourselves first. Don't poke fun at another city unless you can poke fun at Victoria first. Laugh at your own faults and people tend to laugh along with you. We have never tried to take ourselves too seriously. We've always tried to entertain people. The Program Director's credo is "have fun above all else," and we try and bring that through into our creative and our production. And it is paramount in the liners because the liners drive, or at least suggest, the personality of the radio station. You would basically be shot if you ever suggested that we use a positioner like, "Victoria's home of rock and roll..." or something like that. That may work very well in a variety of markets, but what tends to work better for us is something more along the lines of, "The Q, worth ten points in Scrabble...," stuff like that. We just do a lot of nonsense liners, and a lot of the more popular ones are those with a local angle, of course.

We are really fortunate that everybody on staff understands the focus of the radio station. We all get together and throw out liner ideas. They get edited and sometimes rewritten. I would say one fellow who could take particular credit for creating a lot of them is the fellow who produces our morning show, Rick Andrews. He's a very gifted person. Our morning guy, Ed Bain, comes up with a lot of good ones as well, as does our afternoon drive guy, Dave Farough. I try to lend my hand wherever possible. We're always open to submissions from literally everyone on the staff. I mean, there are no closed doors in this radio station. Everybody is involved. The receptionist even does a weekly review of Melrose Place. Everybody's involved here.

R.A.P.: Are you the station voice for all the liners, IDs, and promos?
Ross: I got to voice and produce the liners until last summer when it was decided that another voice was needed for commercial production. And, wherever possible, the two should be mutually exclusive. Reading liners was fun, but the spots paid the bills, and another voice back in the fold translates to better client servicing and more convenient voice managing, for me anyway. No big deal, but it was quite amazing when we switched. I kept hearing stories about faxes and phone calls from listeners wondering "what happened to that guy?" "Where did the cheesy guy go?" I was absolutely stunned that people would even notice, let alone take the time to call or write. Anyway, I still get to bring that character out in an occasional promo or specialty liner if the copy calls for it. Doug Paul out of Atlanta from Catspaw does our liners now. We write 'em, fax 'em, get the voice tracks back on DAT, then we produce them here.

R.A.P.: It sounds like you work for a station where management really understands the importance of the product.
Ross: I'm fortunate. The station is part of a chain of a few stations, and one of the co-owners of the chain lives here and works in this office. He is a producer with a very keen ear for sonic quality, and he also is a firm believer in investing in his business and upgrading where it's needed. He's not frivolous or anything like that -- he's obviously responsible for the bottom line -- but he realizes the value of investing in gear. When we were starting this place up, I came into a room that was equipped with a brand new Ramsa mixing console and a brand new Tascam 8-track which is on its way out of here because we just acquired two brand new Tascam DA-88 digital recorders. And I was fortunate to get enough outboard gear to do some nice, clean work. When you're less frustrated, you are more creative. And if you have someone who is willing to invest in gear purchase an 8-track for you, all of a sudden, doing six different versions of spots isn't such a task. You become a very efficient person.

R.A.P.: Victoria gets a lot of signals from neighboring larger markets. How do you compete with them?
Ross: Because of our proximity to Seattle and Vancouver we are saturated with signals from those cities. To compete, we had to commit to thinking on a major market level. The battle was never really with the local stations for local rock listeners. We had to convince them to come back from the Seattle stations. We gained our market share by dealing on a local level. We humor the local issues. We play music that fits the personality of the city. We offer access. A couple of years ago, we got a 1-800 number for our noon and ten p.m. request shows and really found out where our signal went! About six months ago, we went on-line with our own BBS, another interesting way to draw feedback from your listenership.

R.A.P.: The combination of a creative staff and a nice production studio probably results in a lot of creative commercials. Do you have clients using spots you produce on other stations?
Ross: We do a lot of work for the other radio stations. We certainly put out more dubs than we get in from the other stations. And we're just getting over a political hump with that. We went through a point where other stations were cutting back in their creative investment while we were still investing in people and gear. We sat there scratching our heads one day thinking, this does not make sense for anyone to expect us to do this stuff and just let it go out the door free of charge. If it's a capital expense we're enduring to put this high standard in our work to satisfy our clients, and our clients are so satisfied with the product that they, in turn, would like to take it and run it on the station down the street, then the other radio station's need for investing in the creative department is diminished. It becomes an expense we're bearing for their benefit, and it doesn't make business sense to do that. You can't go on supporting your competitors. The nice thing is that we all enjoy very good relationships with the other radio stations in this town. We don't want to beat each other up, and we like to support each other as an industry.

R.A.P.: So now you're charging for dubs that go out, but there was a time when you were providing commercials for the clients to use on other stations at no charge to the clients. Was it always this way?
Ross: I believe so. Ever since I've been in Victoria, it's always been a courtesy that stations all exchanged commercials, at no charge. But then, all of a sudden, things started to shift. I would say in the past three years, the climate changed locally in the radio business, and things changed. We just found that we were doing a lot of dubs that were going down the street, and all of a sudden it was affecting my deadlines. I would have an Account Executive arrive and say, "It starts with us in a week, but it starts with these guys in two days." And I'm thinking, "Why should I jump for the competition when I have all these other commitments for us that are equally important?" Service is key, but it's suicide to just let something like that go.

R.A.P.: So how did you remedy the situation?
Ross: Slowly, we started instituting charges for material that was going out of the radio station, and it has really just been this year that we've been able to do it. We've put value on the work, and we've made clients realize -- and it sounds cliche, but -- you get what you pay for. And if you want somebody else to do the work, well, be our guest. We'd love to be able to supply you with this, but you have to help us bear the cost of the creativity.

We all try to support each other as an industry, and I think it is a trend that is welcome. I think it's something that has been on a lot of people's minds for a long time. It was just a matter of when was it going to happen and who was going to take a deep breath and go ahead and do it.

If you spend enough time in any business, you get to know a lot of people in it. I ended up calling various people I knew who worked at stations in other markets and saw what they did. I was able to bring to management and our Account Executives and sales department the fact that what we would be charging would be nominal compared to what is being charged in larger markets for work of the same or, dare I say, lesser quality in some cases. When it was explained to everyone why it just made good business sense, they agreed to give it a shot.

R.A.P.: How do the clients take it when The Q begins charging them?
Ross: It depends on how it's presented, and we deal with it on a case to case basis. We have some clients who are very heavy advertisers who have certain critical standards for their creative, and they would like to maintain that level of creative. They're willing to spend the money, and they keep coming back for more.

R.A.P.: What kind of money are you charging the clients?
Ross: Keep in mind this is just in the last few months this has come into being. But basically, if something goes out the door, the client is billed seventy-five Canadian dollars. That's about sixty U.S., and it's non-commissionable. So the salespeople don't make any more off of it, and the talent doesn't get any of it. It's just money that goes to help put value on the creative.

R.A.P.: What are some ways that Canadian radio is regulated differently that U.S. radio?
Ross: First and foremost would be music. We are bound by law to play thirty percent Canadian content. There are four components in a song - music, artist, producer, and lyrics -- and two of those four have to be Canadian or have to have occurred on Canadian soil. There was a huge uproar here when Brian Adams' "Waking Up the Neighbors" came out because "Everything I Do, I Do It For You" was recorded in England. It was a big embarrassment for the regulatory body that made up this ruling because here's Brian Adams, from Vancouver, a Canadian guy who decided to go to Britain to record an album with a British producer who wrote the song; and all of a sudden the Canadian government would not recognize the song as a Canadian song because of this strict regulation. We played the song, but it couldn't be counted as part of our thirty percent. Everybody played the hell out of it, but, perhaps not as much as they would have had it had one more element that made it, in the eyes of the federal government, a Canadian song. And Brian Adams is probably the single greatest musical export this country has ever had.

Advertising of certain consumer categories in Canadian electronic media is very tightly regulated. The thumbnail sketch of the rule book is: the government wants to hear from you before you make a claim about any food product, liquor, cosmetic or drug product, health service, etc.. You simply cannot push drink prices or brand names in club advertising. Liquor laws vary somewhat from province to province, but in British Columbia, if there's a special on Budweiser on tap at a bar, we can't say that. If you are going to advertise any alcoholic product, the copy has to receive approval of content by the liquor regulatory body.

I do a lot of concert spots. If a concert tour is sponsored by a brewery, and if it has the brewery's positioning statement tagged on the end of the spots, that entire piece of advertising copy must be approved by the people at the regulatory body. It has to go to the B.C. liquor board to be approved. If there's a tour of a group that the British Columbia government deems as a very youth-oriented group, one that appeals primarily to teens, the government would not be pleased to find out that a brewery was trying to sponsor the tour. In fact, they could disallow that from happening.

If you were to claim that a certain bakery's bread contained ingredients for healthy living, anything with a medicinal value, you gotta get approval. The same thing with restaurants as well. If you're making any claims about ingredients of foods, you have to get the restaurant to fill out certain documents and submit those to the government. Anything where the consumer is getting qualitative information about something they can ingest needs to get clearance from the appropriate government office first before airing, and there are many government offices. In some cases, the only way around the process is to be less than specific in the wording of the product's claim.

R.A.P.: When listeners of Canadian radio hear a restaurant ad making claims, a grocery store ad making claims, can the listener pretty much believe in those claims?
Ross: Yeah, I think so. We have people like Consumer and Corporate Affairs who put the onus on the advertiser, not on the radio station, for the advertising to be truthful. They're not going to chase after us if they find out that an offer made by an advertiser was, in fact, false. They're going to chase the advertiser.

I wish the Canadian government had a little more trust in the business person to be honest in their business dealings. Believe me, it's extremely frustrating for us sometimes to want to turn a product around quickly for a client and to have to educate the client about all the regulations. We have monthly meetings between the creative people and the salespeople where we all get together and discuss what challenges we have in our day. One of the things we've really been focusing on recently is educating the Account Execs on their responsibility to educate the clients. It's not us trying to be mean; it's just the law. We're just doing business as the law dictates.

R.A.P.: A lot of readers may remember Victoria as the host city for the Commonwealth Games last summer. Did your station get very involved with this event?
Ross: Oh, yes. For those who might not be aware, the Commonwealth Games are a gathering of nations of the Commonwealth countries. It's an athletic competition, and it's an event of Olympic caliber for people of the Commonwealth. We had an awful lot of fun with it because we broadcast live from six a.m. until eleven o'clock at night on location from the inner harbor. Media from all around the world were here, from Australia, New Zealand, and Great Britain. We ended up sort of being the unofficial radio station of all the visiting media. We had people swinging by and doing guest shots with our morning people and our drive people and, in turn, we ended up doing guest shots on British radio, Australian radio, New Zealand radio, and TV as well. And that stuff that was featured on the BBC.

They were interested in the way we were poking fun at our own town and the Commonwealth Games. There was a mascot for the Games which was an orca killer whale named Klee-Wyck, which is a native Indian name. We put a spin on that and thought we'd get our own mascot for the Games, but we didn't have much budget. So we went to "Mascots Are Us" and scraped together all we had and ended up getting a guy in a bad beaver outfit with a bad attitude. His name was Klee-Ver, and he was The Beaver. He basically went walking around town, going up to people and saying, "bite me" and stuff like that. It was fun because it took the serious edge off the Games. We ended up doing some parody songs and running our own version of the Commonwealth Games on the radio called the Common-worst Games. Our morning guys came up with events like the AMC Javelin toss where they took a 1976 Javelin and threw it off the bridge, and we did the five-hundred meter dine-and-dash, things like that. We ended up packaging all of the bits we put together for the events on a compilation cassette, and we sold six hundred copies. All the proceeds went to the local SPCA office. The whole thing amazed and elated everybody.

R.A.P.: Usually, when a radio station is fun to listen to, it has a staff of people having a lot of fun on and off the air. How does The Q keep the "fun factor" alive amongst its staff members?
Ross: Most of that is done with the fact that senior management gives everybody a lot of rope. They have basically drawn a great big circle and put everybody inside the circle. Everybody can run around and bounce off each other and jump as high as they want, but they know where the boundaries are. Management's job is to remind people from time to time whether they have crossed the boundary of good taste or not. The Program Director is not so much directing the programming, he is encouraging the people to explore the boundaries of their imagination.

There's a lot of proactive encouragement and a lot of input from everybody. Everything I've read about management keeps saying that the way you keep an employee happy is to keep them involved and to listen to what they have to say. It's been said so many times: nobody comes to work to do a bad job or to have a bad attitude. It's usually when people are ignored that those problems arise.

We're very lucky in that we have a stand alone FM radio station with two dozen plus people. Everybody in this place wears at least two hats, and some people wear four. Everybody counts, and everybody gets along. We have people go for beers and stuff like that. It sounds schmaltzy, but there's a lot of co-respect for everyone's talents. And people realize they are fortunate to have as much creative freedom as they have. When you work on the air here you are not a liner card reader. You are trusted to have a brain. You are trusted to be punctual. You are trusted to prepare for the task at hand. You're expected to be aware of what's going on nationally and internationally, and not just musically. You have to communicate with people and relate to what is important in their daily lives. People take that seriously around here, and they take having fun very seriously around here.

Some days I walk around this radio station and I think, "Jeez, what a great place. I'd like to work here." It's fun. It's made that way by the people, starting from management on down. Management is very laid back, and the stability here is so squeaky tight it's not even funny. Our morning guy has been doing mornings here since the station signed on.

R.A.P.: It sounds pretty exciting. It's certainly the kind of situation a lot of people in small markets wish they could find.
Ross: Well, it's stressful. Don't let me kid you. I can count on one hand how many times I've left this building for lunch since this summer, and I'm not exaggerating.

R.A.P.: But you enjoy it, and that's the difference.
Ross: Yeah. I get a lot more done, and I feel more productive. I feel more satisfied at the end of the day. But like every person in this business feels when you leave the studio at the end of the day, you're never finished. It's never all done. But at least I'm not spending all my time having to re-cut commercials. That's one thing we've fixed. Our revisions are down to a bare minimum. We have an excellent system of checks and balances in place, so revisions are quite rare and, again, that goes back to obtaining a reduced level of frustration. Nobody wants to come to work Tuesday to redo everything they did on Monday.

R.A.P.: What system do you have in place that helps keep revisions down to a minimum?
Ross: When a piece of copy is drafted, it will either be faxed directly to the client for approval or taken to the client by the Account Executive. The client will call back the writer directly or call back the Account Executive directly and relate whatever changes need to be made. At the same time, I will get a copy of that piece of paper and utilize that to plan my week according to when that piece of creative is due for this radio station or for others in the market. Then I'll pencil that in, and that's how I can start to plan my commitments for the week. I can determine whether I can promise things to people and how much time I can invest in specialty work, etc..

What we try and do is encourage an approval time based on the intensity of the creative -- how much time investment, how much of a talent investment we have to make. We try to educate the clients and let them know that to get the right players involved in executing a piece, we have to work around their schedules as well, and all of this goes together into a formula that, on a good day, will give us a turnaround on the spot for the next morning.

Retailers are people whom I think should be given a little more tolerance than some people might give. I mean, here's somebody who is working a store, hiring and firing people, dealing with customers, and trying to be an advertising expert at the same time. If you're phoning him and reading his spot while he's trying to deal with customers, you're distracting him, and he's not going to pay as much attention to what you are reading him as perhaps you would hope. If the Account Executive sits down one on one with him, they have his undivided attention. They can explain the concept, answer any questions and so on. So we prefer to do it that way.

The approved copy will come back to us signed by the retailer, and on that piece of copy there is a notation that everybody boldly sees. It says, "Note changes and approve by signing below. Script revisions after final production are subject to a fifty dollar fee per revision." The reason for this was that I got tired of being responsible for other people's oversight. I got tired of having to take time away from someone who had patiently been waiting for their spot, somebody who had been playing by the rules and respecting what I had been telling them about the amount of time they would have to invest in doing the job properly, for somebody else who really hadn't been paying full attention to what we were telling them because they were distracted. Now, all of a sudden, if you say it will cost you fifty bucks if you're not absolutely sure of everything, they take that a little more seriously and, voila! Money talks. Problem solved. And it was literally as simple as that.

We try to offer an awful lot of servicing in the writing department as well, encouraging the clients to contact the writers directly to discuss any concerns they have. Doing business with the fax machine has been wonderful in this area. We also try to have the clients understand that deadlines for radio are just as important as those for the newspaper. People who still sell the immediacy of radio but are expecting production, they have to take a bite of a reality sandwich. Radio is still immediate if you're ripping and reading, if you're doing something which might just become audio wallpaper, but if you are spending valuable dollars investing in advertising air time, you should also invest in your own time as a retailer to make sure what you are putting on the air is going to do the job. So you've got to take some responsibility for that, and the Account Executive has to take some responsibility for that as well, making sure that their client is getting what he needs. He shouldn't just take the order and take the money and run, but spend some time and perhaps even question the client about what their plans are. If the AEs have some marketing knowledge, which I certainly hope they have obtained, they'll have the guts to say no to a client and advise a client accordingly when they may be steering in the wrong direction. We believe in consultive selling here. There aren't order takers at this radio station.

R.A.P.: Do you have a free-lance business on the side?
Ross: Yeah, I have my own company on the side. In exchange for doing voice-over work for some of the other stations in the chain, I have guilt-free access after hours to all the gear. So, I've used that to build a small liner business. I do liners for three other stations right now, and I dabble in concert advertising. I just completed spots for an eighteen-market tour of the Tragically Hip which is hitting all the major Canadian venues from New Brunswick to British Columbia. There's a certain amount of free-lance voice work in Victoria to be had as well, not as much as in a bigger center, but that's the price you pay for living in a pleasant place.

R.A.P.: If you were a consultant hired to help a radio station get the most out of their creative and production departments, what are some things you would say to management?
Ross: Reduce interruptions. Make sure the people in the sales end of it understand what is going on with the writers and the producers. Break down the walls. Get everybody involved. Everybody around here has a fair understanding of what the other person is doing and how tough it is to be out on the street selling and how tough it can be putting out a product that the company as a whole can stand behind and say, "Yeah, this is good to take to a client." In order to do that, you have to open up communication and reduce interruptions.

No one person is more important than another person, no matter what they do in the radio station. The receptionist is probably the single most important person in the entire radio station because that person is your front line. So make sure they are enjoying themselves, and they will give that impression to clients and listeners who are calling. Make sure your salespeople are out on the street or studying marketing rather than chewing the fat with a writer who has other things he would rather be or could be doing. There's so much interruption. People get drawn away from the task at hand. If you reduce that interruption, you increase productivity and increase creativity.

For all creative people, I think a pat on the back goes a lot farther than fifty bucks extra in your paycheck. Feedback is incredibly important. A great frustration for all creative people is to work on a speculative spot, send it out with an Account Exec, then never hear anything about that again. You forget about it, then you wonder three weeks later what happened. Did they like it? Did they hate it? What did I do right? What did I do wrong? Were they just a bad business prospect? Let people know if it was good or not. That kind of feedback is extremely important. I always try to make sure I thank somebody before I have to thank them. I make sure I apologize to somebody before I have to apologize to them -- you know, common courtesy.

We're all very busy people, and sometimes we lose sight of the fact that we all have feelings. It's very important to extend those courtesies to everybody. It helps build a stronger team. When you get people who operate independently, that's when you tend to experience personality clashes in organizations and bad attitudes, and one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch. It's something that starts to eat away at the morale of a lot of people. You build good morale by keeping people happy.

Don't watch the clock. If somebody's working ten hours one day, turn a blind eye if they want to take the next morning off. Throw a perk on somebody's desk once in a while. It goes an awful long way to building people who are faithful and willing to work that much harder. Give them freedom. Give them direction.

R.A.P.: What advice would you offer someone new in the business about how to keep a positive outlook on the business of radio and the tough job in production?
Ross: Remember, it's only radio, and nobody's ever going to get hurt or die if you make a mistake in radio. So don't take yourself seriously. Take yourself professionally, but don't take yourself too seriously. Wherever possible, try to have fun. Wherever possible, remember that record buttons and delete keys were made so you could change things. You can expend an awful lot of energy fighting over doing a revision, and you'll expend an awful lot of energy creating an awful lot of stress. On the other hand, you could have had the revision done in one-third of the time for one-third of the energy. It's not worth getting stressed over.

It's a wonderful media. It's the media where you can explore the minds of people you have never met. It's wonderfully anonymous, and I thoroughly enjoy it. I have for fifteen years, and I hope I do for at least fifteen more. The only thing that saddens me about it is the lack of opportunity for young people in entry level jobs, particularly on the air, because of the proliferation of satellite services. We're lucky enough that there is a broadcast program at a local college, and we have brought several people on board from there and given them their first radio jobs. They are just so overwhelmed at having the opportunity. It's great to see that enthusiasm. Not a day goes by where I don't consider myself lucky to be doing something I really enjoy, something I get a great amount of satisfaction and creative freedom from.

R.A.P.: You are obviously talented enough to pursue larger markets, but you've stayed in the small markets and have only been at three stations is fifteen years. What keeps you at The Q?
Ross: Aside from the creative freedom, I get to work with a really decent bunch of people. There aren't any real massive ego problems among the staff members. Everyone is fairly humble. Everyone is the star. Everyone is invited to be involved. I think a lot of that spirit comes from the fact that this is a nice place to live and raise a family, even if houses are pretty expensive. There are several people on staff who could easily be working in a larger market, but they know that the money may not justify the increase in the cost of living or the commute or the crime rate.

Victoria is such a great place to live. When you move here in your early twenties, you're making a huge career mistake because it's too nice. There's a saying around here that if people move here when they are in their mid-fifties or whatnot, they tend to say, "Gee, I'm glad I didn't discover this place when I was in my twenties, or I never would have been able to pursue other angles of my career." It's a very difficult place to leave.

Lonnie Perkins was talking about the importance of balance last month [RAP Interview, December 1994]. I absolutely agree! I've seen this business chew up far too many marriages because people stay too late and let their priorities get out of order. You have to find a balance between imposed workload and self-imposed standards. If the workload is unreasonable, talk to your GM. Then, go home and read to your kid.