R.A.P. Interview: Scott Bourne

R.A.P.: Do you have a marketing degree?
Scott: No. I went to Columbia School of Broadcasting, and all I have in the terms of marketing is the CRMC, the Certified Radio Marketing Consultancy, which is given by the Radio Advertising Bureau in New York. And I have street experience. When I went to Columbia School of Broadcasting, it was basically to be able to pass the third class license back when you had to get the endorsement, back in the old days.

R.A.P.: What's in the immediate future for 30:60 Productions?
Scott: We're now expanding into multi-media. We're doing sound for multi-media. We're releasing a share-ware product that is basically music. We've got our own little production library we're putting together with stingers, lasers, drones, some things for multi-media, and some drum beds and stuff. We've digitized all this, and we're releasing it as wave files that any Windows computer can access by double clicking on it and playing it through your sound card.

We're trying to take advantage of all the technology. We've got an Internet address. We're actually delivering some of our production over the Internet. We're just going crazy. It's really fun. Our Internet address is RADIO3060@AOL.COM, and we can share production over the Internet if they have a workstation that's capable of generating and receiving wave files.

R.A.P.: Unbelievable! You've certainly taken your business a long way from the early days in Boise, and it sounds like you have a great future ahead.
Scott: We're supporting ourselves. I think you're the luckiest man on the planet when you can do the work you love and actually make a living at it. I just wish that radio production in this country would be more like it is in England where they assign producers to salesmen, and the whole thing gets treated with a little more respect. There are only four or five radio stations in England. And it's government controlled, so it's a whole lot different. Basically, there are two copywriters for every AE. When a guy goes out and sells a radio account, they make production and creative the forefront because they recognize that is what it takes to make the spot work. And if you don't make the spot work, you don't get to sell another schedule.

This is where the future lies for those of us in radio production, whether it's in radio stations or ad agencies or production houses--it doesn't matter. We need to take the time to educate the time buyers that they need to learn more than OES (optimum effective scheduling). They need to learn what works in terms of the spots. All salespeople are selling OES, and they act like that's all they've got to do. "If I can get the guy to do an OES schedule, we'll be successful." Well, wrong. It's got to be an OES schedule featuring a creative radio spot, and where I think radio production guys can start to get respect and start to get a better paycheck is by educating everybody at the station and the clients and everybody in the process as to just how important it is to have a good commercial. When good commercials start to work for people, and that starts to get brought to the forefront...like I say, the proof's in the pudding. We did a Wallpaper World spot recently. When you've got a hundred and fifty people at a grand opening in a snow storm, especially a Minneapolis snow storm, you know it worked, and that's why people buy radio, to put butts in seats, to get people knocking on doors.

I listened to some of the spots on the Radio And Production Cassette this month [March 1995], the finalists for the RAP Awards. There's some really creative, quality stuff there. We need to showcase that talent to the rest of the industry at large and even to the general public and get people to see it. Look at cable TV. Even they are going on a public relations campaign lately. There's something like five hundred and sixty-two independent cable TV providers, and they got together and agreed on a public relations campaign where they would run spots across the country saying, "If we don't get to your house in time for installation, it's free! And if we don't do it right, it's twenty dollars off!" and all this stuff to try and improve their image. We ought to work collectively to improve the image of radio producers because, really, instead of being the low man on the totem pole, in my opinion, we ought to be the high man. When we do the good creative, when we get the people listening, it doesn't matter if you've got Howard Stern for the morning. Somebody's got to pay Howard's salary.

R.A.P.: You won't have any trouble getting most creative types to agree with you. It seems the difficulty is with that huge group of radio owners and managers who don't seem to see things the way they do in England.
Scott: Well, once again, it's a perception problem. We have to almost start marketing and selling to our managers.

R.A.P.: How would you do that?
Scott: I would do it just like I do to anybody else. I would start writing press releases to my manager. Instead of calling it a press release, I'd call it a memo, an interdepartmental memo. I'd occasionally just start to point out things like, "By the way, this particular client this month had great success with this spot, and the reason we think it worked is that we got a little extra time to work on it." Or, "We asked for this piece of equipment last month. You bought it for us, and now we're able to do things we couldn't before. We thought we'd let you hear a sample of it." I'd start to produce demo tapes every other month and send them to the manager and say, "Just thought you'd like to hear some of the great creative coming out of your radio station." Start selling yourself to your managers. Do the things I do to my ad agency clients, to your managers. I have to send out media kits. I have to send out demos. I have to send out press releases.

It's like the Nike thing, just do it. It can start to happen. Let's start asking for title changes. Let's start it with us. Instead of allowing ourselves to be called Production Directors, let's ask the boss if we can have our business cards printed next time with Creative Services Director. That's one step towards changing our image. This is all a perception problem here. We quit calling salespeople salespeople, and we started calling them marketing consultants. We quit calling trash men trash men, and started calling them refuse engineers or something like that. So, let's start calling ourselves Creative Services Directors or pick some other title that starts to bespeak of the value of your position.

And when we have an AE come in and go, "Hey, Joe, you know the spot you spent the extra time on for me Friday night. I want you to know my client loved it and it really worked." When that happens, let's apply some marketing and salesmanship to the situation and say, "Well, Dave, would you mind putting that on a letter for me just so I can have it for my file?" Or, "Dave, would you mind coming in here and just saying that on the mic for me so I can record it onto my next demo?" Let's start getting that kind of data and getting it back to our managers. These are the things I do. When my clients rave about a spot, I say, "Hey, step over here in front of the mic and say what you just said again," and I entwine it in my demo. It's just salesmanship and marketing.

And I'm going to tell you right now, there are better radio producers than Scott Bourne on this planet, probably a whole bunch of them. I think one of the reasons I get the biz, though, is that I've got the guts to go out and ask for it, number one, and number two, I'm smart enough to know how to sell it. I admit, I have some ability, but it's just like rock and roll bands. Some of the best rock and roll bands are heard in garages.

R.A.P.: Any parting advice for readers looking to further their careers in radio production?
Scott: Stick with it. Try to start selling the virtues of what you do to the people who pay you and go for as much computer knowledge as you can. It's going to be even more critical in the future. Learn the Internet. Learn how to deal with digital workstations. I don't think that you're even going to be able to buy an analog 8-track in a year or two. Learn as much as you can. Try to improve yourself. Don't get discouraged, and if you want proof that there is life after radio, that it can be done, call me and I'll give you a pep talk.

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