R.A.P. Interview: Bob Holmcrans

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R.A.P.: Do you use any outside voice-over talents for sweepers and IDs?
Bob: Yes. Dr. Dave, who I mentioned earlier, was one of our first Program Directors a long time ago when we first changed format. He is out in Sacramento now at KFFM. He has a voice-over service and was the voice for our station when he worked in 'PGC. We kept him right on through, and he has a great voice. It's rich without being overly ballsy and overly radio-ish. And he has an attitude in his voice which is kind of tongue-in-cheek. We almost poke fun at ourselves a lot of times in our promos and liners. He has the perfect voice for that.

R.A.P.: You're not the first Production Director we've interviewed that is teaching a course on the side. How can a Production Director go about doing the same?
Bob: I can only speak about how I got into it. I have a Bachelor's degree in American History. A few years ago our Chief Engineer left the station to set up the TV/radio department at Montgomery College, and they needed someone to teach one of the courses. He asked if I would be interested. I said yes. But when I talked to the people in charge of hiring, they said, "You need a Masters Degree." I didn't have that, so I couldn't get the job. Well, they called me again this year, and they lowered their standards. I guess they were finding it hard to find people who work in the broadcasting field that have advanced degrees that can teach or even want to teach. Maybe relaxing the standards isn't a good way to look at it because, I think, in a lot of ways hiring someone that is out in the field actually doing the job is far more practical than people that have just been teaching all their lives and never really worked in the station. Obviously, working at a number one station gave me the key to get in the door.

I found it to be a huge challenge, and I learned a lot by having to review things I never really knew about, theory for instance. They say the best way to learn something is to teach it, and it is true. Once I started reading articles and reading the textbooks, I started learning more. People would ask me questions, and I had to come up with answers. I learned a lot more about theory than I knew before, and it helped me on my job on a practical level. When I would go back to work..."Oh, this is what I was teaching last night, and this is why it works." It gave me a better understanding of the technical aspects of my job, definitely.

R.A.P.: Teachers are not known for making money. Is the compensation worth mentioning?
Bob: I had the check direct deposited. It is not a heck of a lot of money, but all of a sudden it's like, "Wow, there's extra money in the bank!" It is a lot of fun, though. The only problem I had was that, like radio, education is a business, even if it is a state run school. They have to cram the students into the courses in order to make money. There were eighteen students in the class. I think that an ideal class would have been nine students. So, I was dealing with twice as many students as you could practically teach to really get down into the trenches, teach well enough to get the value of what I could pass on to them. And that frustrated me. But, they were really nice people, and I got a great intern out of it.

We also just hired one of the students from my classroom for our AM station. It is a very good resource. Not only do you find people that are interested in the business, but by grading their projects and watching their attention to what goes on in class and how they go about their projects, you can keep an eye on them and find out that these people aren't just interested but also have good work habits. As a matter of fact, my new intern got a 98 on the mid-term, a 98 on the final, and an A on all the projects. And when every other student rushed through the exams and handed them in and left, he was the last one to turn his exam in. So you know that he is meticulous, and he is checking his answers. You know that if you bring him in to work for you, he is going to be meticulous in his work and check his work and make sure that what he does is right. I think that is just a great place to get help from.

I would like to teach other aspects of the course, too. But it's an awful lot of work in terms of preparation. I was teaching a course called Audio Production Techniques. It was the required course for anyone going on for any more radio and/or television courses at the school. It was more theoretical than what my background is. I would much rather teach a performance class, and I have approached them on that. I am anxious to see what is going to happen. Then I could use my own strengths to get people to better their performances. I think I could really get some of these people in college up and running at a higher level, so when they actually go out in the field and get their first job, they will be ahead of the game. That is what I would like to do next.

R.A.P.: Outside of educating others, what else would you like to do in the future?
Bob: Well, I'd love to get my own studio going someday, maybe start a little advertising agency, a little production house. I would like to go back to Boston someday and do it there where I know a lot of people. There is a friend up there I have talked about doing something with. With all the new technology, you can send quality audio right over the telephone. I could have a little studio there and be able to get voice talent from all over the country, have them call in and digitally get their voice over the lines. I'd put it together, send it out Fed Express wherever it has to go the next day, and live on my island in happiness. That's my dream.

R.A.P.: We'll do another interview with you when you get there! We'll find out exactly how you did it, step by step! Any parting thoughts for the readers?
Bob: If you want to do production, it must be something in your blood and something you love. And if you don't have that, don't even try to get into it. But if you've got that drive, and you see the studio as this magic little room that you can go into everyday, and if you can be happy going into work because it is what you want to do and have fun even though you know people might be making more money than you doing something else, although they hate their job, and if you've got that feeling that that is what you want to do, then that is what you should go for.

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