Production Director, WYHY-FM, Nashville
and owner of Bumper Productions
Part 2 of 2
by Jerry Vigil
Last month we talked with Bumper about his daily routines as Production Director for WYHY/Y-107; promos, commercials, copy and sales. This month we present the second half of our interview and look a little closer at Bumper himself, as well as his successful voice-over business, BUMPER PRODUCTIONS.
Bumper: I want production people to get fired up. Production is great! You don't have much politics to deal with...I'm in my own little world when I'm in the studio and I get really intense in there, but I enjoy it. It's a love!
R.A.P. To what do you attribute your success in the voice-over business?
Bumper: Well, let me say that I've always been into production since I was a kid. I was influenced by Jack McCoy at KCBQ. I listened to KHJ and I listened to KRIZ and KRUX in Phoenix. Those stations somehow planted a seed in me that was planted very deep. That gave me a sense of direction and I continually worked on developing my voice. I would spend hours in that production room before I got married. I worked and worked for hours and hours at a time. I honed my skill. There's a certain sound you hear listening to a lot of radio, a certain intensity. It's called magic. It's called a buzz, and you get that by listening to a lot of radio. My point is that you have to train your voice and you have to train your way of thinking. It takes time and a lot of hard work. People saw that I was really into it and word got around. I started doing sweepers and promos for the stations I worked at. At the time there were the Bill Youngs and the Joe Kellys and they were making money at it and people would say to me, "Hey Bump, why don't you do it. You can make so much extra money doing it." Well, I didn't want to do it just for the money. There had to be a purpose for it. There had to be a reason with meaning. The meaning, essentially, was that there were a lot of radio stations out there, in the smaller markets, that didn't have that great of a facility, and they needed that "big market" sound. I applied that to Bumper Productions. That's essentially how it started; out of love for radio and wanting to help the smaller markets that didn't have the proper facilities. Owners didn't want to put money into production and it sounded that way. It sounded very small time.
It's working hard and doing freebies and stuff like that; having bumper stickers and stationery with a logo, something visual that will tie in with the audio.
R.A.P. How did you let these stations know you were there?
Bumper: I don't advertise anywhere. It was word of mouth. A couple of people gave me a break, then I started doing freebies for people. I called it charity work. I'd do sweepers for a few people just to get my voice out there, and eventually I started getting paid for it. Word got around and it blossomed into something very beautiful, very nice, and very lucrative. I don't do mailouts, nor do I call up people and say "Hey would like some sweepers?" I get beaten up enough by the salespeople. I don't need to get beaten up by somebody 2000 miles away that I'm doing sweepers for. I'm not out there trying to be the biggest and the best, just let me service the clients that I have. That's the way to do it.
R.A.P. How many stations are you doing voice work for?
Bumper: I'd say I'm doing about 50. There are a few that will keep me extremely busy, such as K104 in Dallas. I look at a radio station like it's a woman. If you treat her well, she'll treat you well. Put your time and your love into it and she'll pay you back. There are some women that eat a lot. K104 is one of those stations that eat a lot. There are other stations that don't use sweepers as much as I think they should. They don't seem to be as hot on my tail as other stations are. Maintaining that product and not burning out the sweepers is very important.
R.A.P. What's in the future for Bumper Morgan?
Bumper: I would like to do Bumper Productions out of the house, be our own owners, our own bosses, and maybe take on syndication from there, whether it's sweepers and promos, or specialized programming for stations. That would be a lot of fun and a lot of hard work, of course. You're always going to be working for somebody. You're always going to be working for a client, but I'd rather take most of the money than get paid a little amount of money. When you look at things on a grand scale, Production Directors don't make a lot of money, but you can if you become your own boss.
R.A.P. What are some techniques you like using in the studio?
Bumper: Filling the holes. You want to fill those holes without making it sound too busy. Filling those holes with taste. That's important. That makes production great, but then you have those people who say, "Well, you're filling the holes, but it sounds too busy", so there is a line there.
When I'm doing voice work, I like to put my mike on the equalizer without any compression and go to 2-track. I like to get a nice bottom, a nice bass and not too much highs. Then I compress the whole thing when I mix it down to the final mix. I cut everything on 2-track until I'm happy with the right inflection. I'm not talking about the whole read, I like to do my production in pieces and then put that over to the 8-track and piece it together like a puzzle. Then, when mixing it down, I add the compression, the reverb, and other effects I need to put to it. I don't compress women's voices as much, though. Their voices are much thinner and the compressor doesn't seem to support them as well as guys.
R.A.P. Do you have anything you'd like to pass on to the production wizards of tomorrow?
Bumper: Get motivated and stay motivated. Stay off drugs. There are a lot of people I've seen who have had their lives and their careers ruined by getting too much into cocaine and being irresponsible with their work. We've all had our day, so to speak, but hopefully, as you get older, you'll grow out of it. You'll realize the importance of what you're doing and that you affect the lives of a lot of other people.
Radio is a wonderful business. It's exciting. Don't stop pursuing it. You've got to keep trying; focus, commitment, and concentration. There's more to radio than just programming and being a disc jockey. There's production!