R.A.P. Interview: Mitch Craig

Mitch Craig, Owner/Producer, Mitch Craig Productions, Memphis, Tennessee

by Jerry Vigil

He's a veteran producer for radio with over 25 years' experience. Four years ago, he left the world of paychecks and bosses and went out on his own. Since then, his voice has become one of the most heard sweeper voices in the country, he has produced a jingle package, and now he is about to release his third production library. The sole proprietor of Mitch Craig Productions is obviously a busy man, but we managed to steal a little of his time for an interview. Grab a cup of coffee, kick back, and join us as we check in with Mitch Craig.

R.A.P.: Give us a day in the life of Mitch Craig. What did you do today?
Mitch: Today started around 7:30. That's when I got to the office. First thing this morning, I had to face the problems of keeping the studio maintained. I had to switch out a capstan motor in a machine. Even though I'm not an engineer, I've seen them do it enough times that I can take it apart and put it back together. Then I started producing some of the stuff I've had come in. I did that until about noon. After lunch, I started watching the fax machine. The people I work with on a regular basis usually start faxing in their material around that time. Then I start voicing or producing or both, and get it ready to overnight back to them. It's 5:20 now, and hopefully I'll be out of here in an hour or so.

R.A.P.: So, you're pretty much producing what comes in on the fax machine all day.
Mitch: Yes, but I have several other projects I work on also. Of course, I do sweepers and promos for radio, but I also do commercials, A/V work, and various other things that I can schedule as "upcoming." I usually take one or more of these in the morning, then the afternoon is devoted to things of a more timely nature that have to be there the next day.

R.A.P.: Give us a brief rundown of your background.
Mitch: I started in Louisiana at age fourteen when I was in high school. I worked through high school then went to KNOE in Monroe, Louisiana. From there, I went to the William B. Tanner Company in Memphis for about a year or so. Then it was to WMPS in Memphis where I did afternoon drive and Production Director. Then there was a stint in Uncle Sam's Army, in Armed Forces Radio in Korea. After that, it was back to Memphis followed by a stint in Dallas at KNUS, the Gordon McLendon station, where I was Program Director for a while after Michael Spears and John Rivers. Then it was back to Memphis to the Tanner Company. I stayed here with the Tanner Company which became Media General and is now gone. It has been bought out by TM in Dallas. About four years ago, I went out on my own, and this is what I've been doing ever since.

R.A.P.: How did you feel about programming after the gig at KNUS, and how did that job come about?
Mitch: I didn't like it. I was not cut out to be a Program Director. That was not what I had been trained to do. I was already there as Production Director and did a shift from six to ten at night, and I guess I was the logical choice when the vacancy came up. I had always wanted to be a Program Director, but I was not quite ready for market number eight. There was too much paperwork and too many schedules to fill out. It was too time consuming, and I really couldn't get into it that much. I enjoyed being in the production room.

R.A.P.: How many stations would you say you have done voice work for since you went out on your own?
Mitch: The number is in excess of two hundred, but there are a lot of guys out there doing this stuff. Some of the stations that I have voiced for have probably gone with other people.

R.A.P.: Do you feel an increase in the number of "sweeper guys" out there getting into the business?
Mitch: Oh yeah, there's no doubt. Everybody and their brother are trying to do something now, and there's a lot more competition than there ever was before.

R.A.P.: When you get in the studio and knock out some sweepers or promos, what kind of processing do you like to put on your voice?
Mitch: I try to keep it as clean as I can. I always voice my first generation flat, then I go to the 8-track. When I mix down, I will EQ the voice and whatever else needs to be EQ'd on each individual track. Once I get it all mixed down the way I want it, I get my best results by blanket compressing the whole mix. It seems to give it a pretty good punch. There are some exceptions to this, depending upon what I'm trying to achieve, but most of the time I compress the whole mix. I don't add an awful lot of compression; I try to add enough to thicken it a little bit, but I don't try to make it pump or anything. I also use a little reverb, and on particular words or whatever, I'll really throw it out there to highlight a word or phrase. I think reverb makes is so much richer.