R.A.P. Interview: Willie B!

RAP: What do you think that's going to be?
Willie: Well, it's going to have to come back to creativity. It all comes back to hitting the key demo. Watching NBC Thursday Night Must See TV, they have a voice-over fellow you only hear on Thursday nights, and that style of production is different than it is on their Tuesday or Wednesday drama prime-time lineup.

We've become the impatient generation. If you don't give people something they need within the first three to five seconds, they're going to disappear. If we keep them entertained, then they'll stay. I think today, more than ever, the smart Program Directors are realizing that what goes in between the records is just as important as the records themselves because there are so many stations out there trying to accomplish the same thing. Those who are the best Production and Creative Directors are the ones who are working with limited tools as far as equipment, but no limitation whatsoever on creativity. And the luxury that American Radio has afforded me is that when I'm given an assignment, I get to lock my production studio door behind me. I grab the voice-over talents I need, sit down with the production elements, and put together what I hope is my next good piece of production. I'm sure I'm not alone, but every single time, I try to put a different spin or different flair on something so there isn't that recognizable factor--"Oh, that's got to be so-and-so's production." They are different every time, and that's really where the challenge comes in on a daily basis. That's where the wonder of this position is recognized by me. I've got the best job in the building, bar none.

RAP: Let's talk about your tools. You mentioned the DSE-7000.
Willie: Yes, I have a DSE-7000; and here I sound like a patronizing employee, but American Radio Systems understands that when I need something, there's a reason behind it. When we first got the DSE, we were working with one analog 8-track, a wonderful old MCI 8-track, and I was taking care of two radio stations. At that time, we had two production studios. We needed to take care of the commercial and stationality production for both with two production studios, and when you're dealing with as many AEs and as many air talents and production talents that we had running around the building, it was a little difficult to do that. So we test drove one of the DSE-7000s, and at that point I told them that they wouldn't be able to take it back, that I had to have that machine. We now have nine of them in the building. It's a company that really believes in supplying the tools.

RAP: What other equipment is in your studio?
Willie: I have probably one of the oldest consoles in the building. It's a BMX 22. I've got an Eventide H3000B. I have an old dbx 2020 equalizer, which I brought from home, which allows me to preprogram ten equalization settings. I don't think you can even get this box any more. I've got a couple of dbx 165A compressors which give you that nice, old fashioned tube compression sound. And, of course, there's my Telos Zephyr which allows me to tap into any of the voice-over talent all over the country. So, if I've got the budget, all I need do is make a telephone call and I'm hooked up. We just hired a fellow by the name of Chris Corley to do MixFest out here, which was a two-day outdoor music, arts and crafts and children's festival. We had probably four or five hundred thousand people stroll through the Boston Common, and throughout that entire process I was using Chris Corley exclusively for that event. He was moving from one location to another during this time and was able to pop into a studio down in Florida and get me what I needed every day. It's just a wonderful device.

I also have a Marantz CD recorder. A client will call me up and say, "Hey, we're going to send you a tape with our voice-over talent on it. When can we expect it back?" Usually the turnaround is anywhere from twenty-four hours to a few days and when they get the product back, they'll get it delivered on compact disc. So if they want to stay in the digital realm, they can walk into the studio, throw the compact disc in, and cut number one may be an image promo, cut number two may be a top of the hour ID, and cut number three is a contest promo. It works out well. I don't know of a radio station in existence these days that isn't using compact discs, so it's the one medium that we know is going to work out in every situation.

RAP: You mentioned nine DSE-7000s in the building. How many production rooms are there?
Willie: We now have four state of the art production rooms. Each production studio is equipped just about as equally as the other. Most radio stations you go to, you have THE production room, then you have everyone else's production room. What they've allowed me to do here is to duplicate my original studio three times over. The boards are all set up exactly the same, so no matter what studio you're in, it feels as though you're in THE studio. And that's a nice luxury. I know it seems like a small thing, but it's a wonderful, wonderful luxury.

Even with the four studios that we have, people are still fighting to get time in. I'm looking right now across the room at John Lander and his morning show in one studio, and to my right is the other morning show. And next to me is my right and left hand and two legs, Patty Fox. She takes care of all the commercial production for the two FMs and does a great job with it.

RAP: There are four stations there, two AM and two FM, right?
Willie: Yes. I'm primarily talking about the two FMs which are the two I take care of. On the other side are the two AMs, WRKO, the talk station, and WEEI, the sports station in town.

RAP: Are these four production rooms for all four stations?
Willie: Nope. The four production studios are for the FMs only. The AMs' are on the other side of the building, and they have four as well, maybe five.

RAP: This must be where the nine DSEs come in.
Willie: Yes. I think at one point I heard we had more in one location than any other company in the country. It was either that or that we had more in one location than all of Germany or something like that.

RAP: Do you have a studio at home?
Willie: I don't, but you can pretty much call this my home away from home. The studio is equipped with all of the stuff I just told you about, as well as full cable television. Everything is here that I need. As a matter of fact, I have a separate stand alone digital workstation over to the right. I have a little PC that's loaded with SAW, and my interns can work on a separate piece with headphones. There's a little preamp that's hooked up to a VCR that runs through my computer and a laser disc player, and that separate digital workstation is in line with my main console. So I can actually have somebody sitting over there doing data base work, recording drops and things of that nature, then they can throw it over to the main console to me for final editing.

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