R.A.P. Interview: Rich Van Slyke

Rich Van Slyke, Production Director, WKLS-FM, Atlanta, GA

rich-van-slyke-oct92by Jerry Vigil

This month's interview takes us to the 12th ranked Atlanta market and top rated AOR powerhouse WKLS-FM, a market and a station Rich Van Slyke only dreamed about not too long ago. We catch Rich in his first year at WKLS, a year filled with new studios, digital workstations, theatre of the mind production, and the format of his oldest ambitions. Rich didn't land the gig because of a big voice or several years experience in major market AOR production. He landed the gig for other reasons, reasons that become obvious on the following pages and on this month's Cassette.

R.A.P.: Where did you get the radio bug, and how did you wind up at WKLS?
Rich: I caught the radio bug in high school listening to progressive rock radio stations, that whole psychedelic thing. You could just put on the headphones and really escape through radio. I went through college wanting to be a progressive rock DJ. I worked at the college radio station, and that's where I discovered the love for the production room. I seemed to have a knack for it, and I became the Co-Production Director.

As I went through college, I listened to a lot of people say, "Hey, you're never going to make any money in radio, but you're going to have a lot of fun." I thought that was cool. I figured I didn't need a lot of money. Later, I found out that wasn't entirely true.

I talked to an AOR Program Director who said it doesn't matter what format you get it in as long as you get professional experience. So, in my junior year I got a job at an AM country daytimer in Cortland, New York. They also had an FM that was automated. I also did production. On a typical evening I would have a Yankees game going in the AM studio, I would be changing tapes on the FM automation, and I would be running over to the production studio cutting spots. The last three semesters of college I worked full time in radio and went to college full time. At one point I was doing a show in the morning at the college station and then my country show in the evening on the AM station.

When I graduated from college I went back to my hometown of Buffalo, New York and tried to get a job. I couldn't get a job in rock and roll; all my air checks were country. I should have made an AOR air check, but I didn't. That was a big mistake.

I got a job at a country station, WYRK, and this was my first big break. I worked the evening shift and really developed an appreciation for country music. It expanded my horizons. I stayed there for five years. It was a very nice place to work and the people were great.

R.A.P.: Were you on the air and doing production?
Rich: Yes, and about two years after I started, the station got busy enough that they needed a full time Production Director. They were going to hire somebody with experience, but I asked for the job and Ken Johnson, my first Program Director, gave me the job with no prior Production Director experience. I just ate that up, boy. I got to work during the day, and I got to spend hours on promos. I was having a riot, but the whole time I would be listening to the rock stations in town thinking to myself, "Gee, what would it be like to work there? That's the music I like." But I wasn't ready to leave my situation unless it was a good move. I was married and we were trying to buy a house. And I wasn't unhappy at WYRK. It's just that I heard some things on the AOR stations that were really wild.

Finally, after five years, I said, "This is enough. I've got to grow, and I want to make more money." So, I started looking around for other jobs. I came close to getting a job at the AOR station in town, 97 Rock. They needed a Production Director, and I was just beating the doors down. I got an interview, but they weren't going to offer me any more money than I was making at the country station. And they were looking for someone with a deeper, more powerful voice. Over the next few years, it seemed that was all I heard. "We're looking for someone with big balls, somebody with a big deep voice for our Production Director position." That was driving me nuts. I finally came upon an opening at the CHR station, Kiss 98.5. They offered me a lot more money than I was making at the country station, and I knew I could do a lot more things as far as production goes if I went over there. It was right about that time that I started getting Radio And Production Magazine and listening to the RAP cassettes, and it seemed that some of the best production was coming out of CHR radio. It seemed a lot of the people who were really doing well in radio production were working at CHR stations. So, for about a year, I thought, "That's what I'm going to be -- a CHR Production Director!" I figured I didn't have the balls for AOR.

I took the job and went nuts at Kiss 98.5 and began sending in stuff to RAP for The Cassette. I got into synthesizers and really started taking chances, pushing the edge to do what I thought was the best production I could do. And a lot of it was inspired by what I heard on the RAP cassettes - like Rick Allen's work with all the samplers and lasers. There just wasn't anybody in Buffalo doing stuff like that. The job worked out well, but I didn't really like the format.

Then I heard about an opening at WCMF in Rochester, and I knew that was a great radio station. I knew it was a great place to work because I had known people that had been there and some friends were still there. I went after this job big time. Stan Main, the PD, hired me, and I was thrilled. Finally! Eight years after graduating from college I finally made it to an AOR radio station, and a good one -- a dominant 20-year old heritage AOR station. I was happy. I was set. We bought a house. I was making good money.

When I first got there I thought, "Okay, now I'm in AOR radio. Now it's time to start doing big voice stuff like, '96 WCMF with Led Zeppelin' (Explosion! Laser! Zap, zing!)" Stan took me aside and said, "Look, I don't like that. We have Joe Kelly for that. I want something else from you. I want a more natural read, and I want something creative - theater of the mind." He would walk in, and with his hands up in the air making the quotation marks he would whisper, "I want magic." So I started focusing on a lot of the AOR production that I had heard around the country, specifically from the RAP Cassettes -- Joel Moss in Cincinnati, Ed Brown in St. Louis, and Dennis Daniel especially. These guys were doing a lot of voices and a lot of comedy writing that I didn't think I could do, but I really liked it. Back at my first job somebody gave me an old Radio & Records production tape which had the work of Tom Sandman, Marty Manning, Tom Couch, and Bob Stroud. These guys were from legendary AOR stations that dated right back to the progressive days. They were flipped out. It was wild. It was cool stuff. Not big balls and lasers, but song parodies and killer promos that really pulled you into the message -- theater of the mind stuff. So I thought, "Well, here is my opportunity. I am finally at an AOR station where the audience can appreciate it, and I have a PD that doesn't want to hear those CHR type promos." So I went nuts.

For the next two years I concentrated on that style of production. I figured I was in Rochester for good only because most of the major market stuff I heard was really better than what I was doing. And most of the guys had big voices. I figured major market just wasn't going to happen.

When the consultants would come to town or when somebody would call I would always pass out tapes, hoping somebody would hear my work just to appreciate it. Apparently the word got around that we were doing some neat production because one day Michael Hughes, the Program Director of 96 Rock in Atlanta, called me up on the phone and said, "We're looking for a Production Director down here in Atlanta. Would you be interested?" I said "Hell yeah, I'd be interested!" I had just been to Atlanta that summer, and I knew it was a great city. So I sent a tape, and he called me back a few days later. He asked if I could come down for an interview. I told him I was getting ready to go down to Florida on vacation. I was going to take a cruise. He asked if I would happen to be coming through Atlanta. (There is a joke about Atlanta: whether you're going to heaven or hell, chances are you'll have to change planes in Atlanta.) As it turned out, I was going through Atlanta, so we made arrangements to have me stay over on the way back from Florida for an interview. What a vacation that was. Here we are on a cruise ship trying to enjoy ourselves. Meanwhile, I'm going through all the things you go through when you've got an interview coming up. "Do we want to move to Atlanta? Do we want to move a thousand miles away from our relatives? What do you think about the city?"

So, we get back from vacation and Michael meets us at the airport. I kissed my wife goodbye not knowing what was going to happen. He takes me to the hotel. Next morning, he picks me up at the hotel and says, "We're going to the station, but first I want to make a brief stop at the airport." I said, "What for?" He goes, "Well, we're going to take a helicopter ride." So, he takes me up in the station helicopter, and we fly around the city of Atlanta. He's pointing out where the Atlanta Braves' play and where the Falcons play and where the new stadium for the Super Bowl in 1994 is gonna be, "and there's the other new stadium where the Olympics are going to be in 1996...." Me, being from Buffalo and Rochester, flying around Atlanta in a helicopter...I was blown away. I hadn't even sent a tape in pursuit of the job. He called me! I couldn't believe it was real. In the past twenty-four hours I had been on a cruise ship, then a bus, then a plane, and now I was up in a helicopter. It was a whirlwind.

We went back to the radio station and they interviewed me. The interview went well, and they asked me how much I needed to come to Atlanta. I told them. They said, "Fine," and that was it. They ended up setting up a bonus program for me where I can actually earn more than I asked for. Things have just been great ever since.

I really have to thank Michael Hughes for wanting to bring my particular style of production to 96 Rock. Michael also had the foresight to set up a situation where the Production Director works mainly on promos and creative elements for the radio station. If he sees me doing a spot, he wants to know why I am working on that spot and why somebody else can't be doing it. He wants me working exclusively on promos, with the exception of two spec spots a week. That is one of the agreements in my deal. I do two spec spots a week, and if they sell, I get bonuses. But other than that, it is all promos and creative stuff.

R.A.P.: Is there someone else there in a Co-Production Director's position or something similar?
Rich: No. All of the disk jockeys, except for the morning show, pull a production shift. We have an off air Music Director and a Continuity Director that do great jobs. Our Continuity Director, Lisa, even types cart labels. She does all of the pre-production and the disk jockey is given a script, a cart label, and complete instructions. All they really have to do is voice it, add some music, and cart it up.

R.A.P.: Who is writing the scripts?
Rich: Mostly salespeople.

R.A.P.: Do you do any writing?
Rich: Definitely. I love writing. I really got a lot out of RAP that helped me with my writing. I remember the interview with Joel Moss where he said a lot of great production comes out of the typewriter. You know, I didn't really believe that until I tried to apply that myself, and it's really true, especially with the theater of the mind stuff.

You hear the words "theater of the mind" over and over again, but what does theater of the mind really mean? I think it means forcing the audience to imagine what is happening in a particular scene. You know what I mean? A lot of people think theater of the mind is talking about giving away a new car and then playing the sound of a car burning out in the background. But that doesn't really force an audience to imagine what is happening in the scene. I am talking about having two guys standing out in a parking lot. They're having a conversation, and suddenly, one guy jumps in the car and takes off. The audience is left to wonder why he jumped in the car and took off. It's like you're drawn in and have to figure out what is going on in the particular promo. And the sound effects are like clues. I have had so much luck with footsteps. Footsteps are a great sound effect because when you hear a door open and you hear footsteps, somebody is walking into a room. I think your mind instantly wants to know why this guy is walking into the room and what is going to happen when he does. Then, if you introduce another character, let's say another guy with a gun, then you are wondering what is going to happen to the guy that just walked into the room when he meets the guy with the gun. But you leave clues to help people figure out what is going on. It's a little movie. It's a little play. Dennis Daniel's stuff always seems to challenge you to think of what's going on and what's going to happen next.

I am definitely somebody who has heard the styles of other production people around the country and then tried to do my version of that, and it has resulted in stuff that I am proud of. I don't think I would be able to do the stuff that I can do now if it weren't for the RAP Cassettes, and I really mean that. When I was at the CHR station, I would hear some of those club spots with the sampling and the music mixes. I thought, "Man, this is so cool. I've got to try this." So, I tried it and learned a lot by doing it. Then I would hear Dennis Daniel doing character voices and I would try to do that. It wouldn't come out the same, but I would learn stuff while doing it. You can really learn to do anything if you work on it long enough. If you want to learn to do dialects or cartoon voices, there are tapes or instructional things that can teach you the tricks of doing that. If you want to learn how to do music, you can learn how to do that.

R.A.P.: Do you have a musical background?
Rich: Yes. I played in the stage band in junior high school, so I learned the basics of music. I took guitar lessons when I was a teenager but got frustrated and gave up. I wish I hadn't done that. I later taught myself guitar in college. I just went out and bought an acoustic guitar and had a friend teach me how to play the blues, just a basic blues lick. I would just sit and play the blues for hours. Then the whole MIDI thing happened in the eighties, and I thought, "Wouldn't it be great if I could get this MIDI stuff going since I already play guitar? I could do drums. I could do music beds. Instead of searching through records to find the right music I could just lay it down!"

So, at the country station, I got them to trade out a Casio keyboard and a Casio drum machine for me. They didn't really sound all that good, but I managed to do one singing promo. I used the song "Bobbie Sue" by the Oakridge Boys. I took that song and did a little music bed with the drum machine, a keyboard base from the keyboard, and added guitars. I did it on a little 4-track machine and had some of the disk jockeys sing on it. The focus of the summer promotions at the radio station at that time was backyard barbecues. We would go out and do a backyard barbecue at a listener's home every Friday. I took "Bobbie Sue" and turned it into, (singing) "Ba-Ba Ba-Ba Bar-b-que...." It just took off, and we ended up using this the same way an advertiser uses a jingle. For the whole summer, we used this parody of Bobbie Sue. I thought, "Man, this is something you don't find anywhere else!" I was off and rolling on the musical thing.

Then I was reading in RAP about these guys that bought synthesizers, and my whole life opened up when I spent the money on a synthesizer. I bought a Roland W30 which is a sampling workstation. I'm still using it to this day.

R.A.P.: What equipment are you working with at the station?
Rich: That is one of the biggest reasons I wanted to come to 96 Rock. Besides the money and the city of Atlanta, there is the new studio they are building. As we speak there are people working on our studio, putting in the new equipment. We have the Pacific Recorders Production Mixer console with all the Pacific Recorders matching furniture including that super cool overbridge where all your effects go.

R.A.P.: Does this Pacific Recorders setup include their new digital workstation?
Rich: No. We have the AKG DSE-7000 8-track digital recorder.

R.A.P.: What do you think of it?
Rich: It's great. Absolutely incredible. I would never go back to analog 8-track for radio production. It's an incredibly fast machine, and it's really hard to make a mistake because of the "undo" button. It is so easy to make a great splice. Another great thing about AKG is that you can bounce tracks. I can fill up eight tracks and then bounce, internally on the machine, in stereo, down to two tracks, even the two tracks that I already have stuff on! Then I listen back to my 2-track bounce, and if I don't like it, I undo it.

There are really only two drawbacks with the DSE-7000. It only samples at 32kHz, which on paper shouldn't make any difference because FM only goes up to 15kHz. But you really can hear it. I wouldn't want to do a record on the DSE. When you first sit down, you are blown away by the lack of noise. But after a while, you notice something going on with the highs. But that's not much of a drawback considering all the other stuff you get.

The other thing is that there is no EQ built in on the tracks. So, you've either got to EQ going in or you've got to EQ the whole 2-track mix.

R.A.P.: Couldn't you use one of the effects sends on the DSE to add EQ to a track?
Rich: I suppose, but I didn't even think about that because we don't have outboard EQ. However, I will have EQ on the new board, 3-band parametric on each channel. But you know, for radio production you don't really need EQ that much. The biggest thing I use EQ for is just getting the mike to sound right. Once the mike sounds right, the only time I use EQ is for special effects. I thought I would miss it a lot more than I do.

R.A.P.: EQ can become a crutch for a lot of people.
Rich: It does. I read a lot of studio magazines, and the biggest thing I get from a lot of these guys is that it's all in your ears. If it sounds right going in, then you don't need any EQ when it's coming out, during the mix. Spend your time getting the sound to sound right before you put it in instead of spending time EQ-ing it during the mixdown, after it is recorded.

R.A.P.: What effects boxes do you have?
Rich: For effects, we have the Eventide H3000B which is just an incredible box. The best thing about that box is the selection of presets. Need a telephone sound? Bang...preset! Need the sound of an airport page? Bang...preset! Need the sound of a submarine sonar? Bang...preset! It's that fast.

R.A.P.: It sounds like speed is an important factor for you.
Rich: The whole thing with radio production is speed. My procedure for getting things done is to divide the work into categories. Some things are basics. Tags, donuts, bar spots, things like that are basic production. We even have some basic promos. For instance, we hook up with Lakewood Amphitheater and present concerts the entire summer. We have a Lakewood concert promo which needs to be updated every couple of days. It's nothing fancy, and this is something I need to get done as quickly as possible. So, I just go in there and bang it out as fast as I can. It is the same thing I did when I had a lot of spots to do. You just pick the ones that are basic production and get them done as fast as you can at the quality level that is just above what is necessary to make your Program Director and salespeople happy. You'd like to do a real good job on everything, but you can't.

I think of it in terms of baseball. A batter watches so many pitches go by. Some of them he doesn't swing at. He just lets some of the pitches go by. Be like that batter. Pick the ones you're going to swing at, and then swing with everything you've got. Sometimes you'll miss. And then, every once in a while, you hit. Many things you do are just like those balls you let go by. You just get them out of the way as fast as you can and forget about them. It's a ball. As long as nobody is complaining, let the balls go by. But once in a while, you're going to get those promos or spots that you see the opportunity with. You'll say to yourself, "Geez, I could really go nuts on this. It could really turn into a production that I would want to put on my tape. I can see the opportunity here. The client is open to creativity. It's going to be a spot that runs for a pretty good schedule. I have a good idea." Then you just go nuts on that and spend five or six hours working on it -- whatever it takes to make it the best you can. If it's a hit, then you go back and you redo it and make it even better. Make it perfect. Keep working on it until you can't do it any better. That's what you live for. The hits and the home runs. Who thinks about all the balls that a guy lets go by? They just don't matter.

R.A.P.: What are the plans for the present studio after the new one is built?
Rich: No plans, really. It's a good studio. I have an Auditronics console in there that sounds real good. The studio is a 4-track. Our engineer is a real computer nut, and he went out and bought "The Card" -- that 2-track digital editor. That is also going to be in the 4-track studio. I am looking forward to getting on that thing because the best part about digital recording is the editing. The Card is not an 8-track unit, but you can do cross-fades on it.

R.A.P.: What production libraries are you using?
Rich: Are you ready for this? We don't have one. It's something I am going to try to change in the future, hopefully next year. But it's hard to knock the management of this radio station for not spending money on production when they have just built me a new studio with a Pacific Recorders board and an AKG DSE-7000.

R.A.P.: Good point.
Rich: And it doesn't sound bad, not having the libraries. I can take any piece of music from anywhere and edit it into a commercial bed on the AKG in about ten minutes. I realize that this is illegal, and I am going to use that fact to try to get them to spend money on a production library. But they haven't had one here in seventeen years! How do you tell them...I mean, they recognize the need for one, but I don't think it's ever been a big issue. The basics of production are being covered. Jocks come in, they find instrumental records, and they cut the commercials. Commercials go on the air, clients get good response, they pay their money. Things roll on without a production library. They've never had a production library, so it doesn't really get in the way that much.

I don't think they realize how much better life can be WITH a production library. I mean, a lot of people here are very used to spending twenty-five minutes looking for the right piece of music, and that's a pain in the neck. With a production library, it should only take you five minutes to find a good piece of music, and that's the best part about having one. I have purchased FirstCom's Maximum Impact twice, once at Kiss 98.5 in Buffalo, and then they gave me a real nice deal in Rochester. They let me pick and choose from the Maximum Impact and the Digital Production Library, the thirty-five best CDs that I could find. That was great because I ended up with no dud material at all, and I was happy with their product. I would buy that stuff again if I could.

R.A.P.: You mentioned that you bought the Roland W30 Music Workstation. Do you have this keyboard at the station?
Rich: No. It's at home. I have a home studio. I bought a Tascam 24-channel board, the Tascam 2524, and I have an Otari half inch 8-track at home. I've got my W30, and I've got my guitar and my guitar amp. I've also got a multiple effects unit and a couple of MIDI modules.

Over the weekend. I laid down the instrumental tracks for a little morning show jingle that I wrote -- just a little ten second bumper to go at the end of bits. Our morning show producer, Radical Bradford, is an outstanding singer, a professional singer. He used to make his living singing and still does gigs around town. So, I brought the instrumental tracks in, and he laid down a couple of vocal tracks this morning and bang! Morning show jingle.

I also have a Sony DAT at home. I'll do tracks at home, bounce them to DAT, bring them in, load them into the AKG, and then have somebody sing over it. I have done some singing of my own. That's another thing I never thought I could do. But I'll tell you...the miracle of multi-track....

R.A.P.: Are you doing some freelance work out of that studio?
Rich: Oh. absolutely.

R.A.P.: In the way of music or voiceover work or both?
Rich: Everything. I can do jingles. I can do concert commercials. I can do regular agency commercials. I've even created some special effects that I have sold for sweepers and IDs. I sold some to Mitch Craig -- sweeper sounds like laser blasts and guitar power chords. I am planning to do some for the station. I want to replace a lot of the traditional synthesizer sounds with guitar sounds. I redid our top of the hour ID with a combination of W30 sounds and this big guitar power chord. Then we have Joe Kelly, the voice of God, come in with a little drop. That has really worked out well.

R.A.P.: Is Joe the only outside voice WKLS is using?
Rich: Yeah. He's the man. He faxed me a congratulations note on getting the gig. I felt like the golden hand had reached down from heaven and touched me. He's the man for radio production.

R.A.P.: Do you have any long term plans to leave radio and work out of the studio?
Rich: Well, it motivates me to read these articles in RAP about people like Randy Reeves who do well in radio then get to the point where the home studio thing works out so well that they go and form their own company. I love radio right now, but I wonder if I could be happy doing this when I'm fifty years old. I think I probably can because I've eliminated a lot of worries over the years. I mean, here I am in my thirties, and I still like the stuff that I liked when I was a teenager -- you know, rock and roll, power chords, Cheech and Chong flipped out humor, and that kind of stuff. I don't think that's ever going to go away. Sometimes I envision myself at the retirement home sitting around with a couple of acoustic guitars and a harmonica just jamming on the blues. People are going to do that.

I like to read the articles about people like Bill Young and Joe Kelly where things just happen to work out, where their work is so in demand that they have to quit radio. I don't think that's ever going to happen to me, but then again, there I was in Rochester figuring I would never go to a major market. I don't know what it's going to be for me. It's not going to be big voice concert commercials. I'm probably not going to be a sweeper guy, but what if there is something that I come up with in my little home studio that is suddenly in demand? Who knows what it's going to be ten years from now. We hit a phase there where everybody wanted big sweepers, lasers and s-s-s-s-stutters, and the guys that were ready to take advantage of that made a lot of money. What if I hit on something and, all of a sudden, I can't keep doing my radio job? But if it doesn't happen, so what? I still love radio. I really love coming in here having fun, playing around and doing goofy things. I think the greatest thing about radio is the tremendous volume. You can come in and try something, and if it doesn't work, hey, there is always another spot or a promo to do tomorrow or next week. But if it does work...wow!

R.A.P.: What kind of relationship with the sales department does your department have?
Rich: This radio station has been number one in the market and has been very very successful for many, many years. If you're a salesperson here and you've got a good list, you're going to make a lot of money. The ratings are good. What I'm getting at is that it's a programming driven radio station. Sales is the bottom line, but, when you're sold out in a major market, programming calls the shots. And there is not a single member of our programming staff that isn't willing to bend over backwards and give whatever it takes to get the buy, but more often than not, it is the salespeople that work around the obstacles and find a way to get things done.

I spent some time selling -- not radio, but I have had sales jobs in my life -- and I have a lot of respect for salespeople. I could never deal with the rejection that they have to deal with. But, I think I've figured out a pretty good way to deal with salespeople.

They just want to get the order. If you help them do what it takes to get that order, and then do what it takes to eliminate any problems after the order is in, they will bend over backwards to help you. I've often found that salespeople will come into your studio with a bit of hesitancy, and they'll engage in small talk and beat around the bush a little. The best thing to do is ask them, "What do you want, what do you want it to sound like, and when do you want it done?" Very often, salespeople can be satisfied with minimal effort on your part because they just want something that sounds pretty good. They don't need to be blown away. They don't have the same expectations out of production that you place on yourself. So, if you do something that may seem ordinary to you but you get it done on time, and it's good enough that the client approves it, that sales guy is more than appreciative.

Now, there are times when you're not going to have enough time to get something done, and you've got to bang 'em out in a big hurry. But really, that's all that the salespeople are looking for -- just get it done. If any problem develops after the spot is running on the air, they just want it to go away. If you can make those problems go away with a smile on your face, if you can say to the salespeople, "I'll take care of it because I'm your man; I will do it for you because I am the guy you can count on," that is the foundation for a great relationship. Then you can go to your salespeople and say, "Hey, that spot came out really good, and the client really likes it. Could you ask him if he would be willing to air that on another radio station and get me the talent money?" And they'll go, "Sure I will, because you helped me get the spot done on time, on the air, and made the problems go away."

Salespeople are not going to stick with deadlines. All that matters is getting that order. Get that money. And once you get the money, it's on to the next one. This is the same stuff that has been echoed in RAP before. "What do you need and when do you need it? Okay, I'll get it done." And you've got to do it with a smile on your face. You've got to make them believe you really want to help them get what it is that they need.

R.A.P.: That's a good philosophy.
Rich: It really works. It's just positive attitude, and it spreads.

R.A.P.: AOR stations are often very promo intensive. What's the situation like there?
Rich: Right now we have six promos that are rotating on the air, all for different promotions. We're giving away a Vet. We're doing a contest with U2. We've got a contest to win a trip to Australia. We've got local concert contests. I mean, there are tons and tons of promotions going on! And then we've got all of our jock appearances and all of the concert promotions, and all those need promos.

I'm responsible for all those promos, and then we have "recyclers." Recyclers are little fifteen to twenty second promos which recycle our audience into listening for things that are coming up. So I'll do recyclers for live concerts that we air, for our Sunday morning talk show, for all the features of the radio station. Then, on top of that, there's all the extra special things like the five o'clock whistle which is a montage type production.

That's one thing that surprised me when I got here. I thought, "Wow! It's going to be great. I'll get to play. I'll get to spend two days on a promo, and it will be wonderful!" But, when I got here, I realized why they wanted a Production Director who does nothing but promos -- because there are tons of promos! But it's cool. The best thing about promos is that there is no approval to get, really. You just go nuts. You do whatever you think is appropriate, and that's it, unless the PD has a problem.

R.A.P.: Any parting words for our readers?
Rich: It's only the jewels that matter. Pick and choose your jewels and bust your butt on those. Let all of the other ones go by. Get all of those other spots out of the way. Get them done because they are just like those balls that the batter lets go by. Concentrate on your jewels and work on those until you can't make them any better. I've stayed many nights working late on stuff, remixing, over and over again, trying something new.

Another thing is your professional relationships. You've got to bite your tongue and do what it takes to give people what they want with a smile on your face. It really works.

Finally, I'd like to express my appreciation to the Program Directors that helped me, that saw enough potential in me to hire me. They are Ken Johnson at WYRK, Paul "Boom Boom" Cannon who was the PD at Kiss 98.5 (He's now at WPRO in Providence), Stan Main at WCMF, and Michael Hughes at 96 Rock. And probably the biggest influence on my life, my wife Diane. She gave me the confidence to proceed when I didn't think I could do it. She would always say, "Why should you have to settle for that? You ought to be doing better. Why can't you do better?"

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