R.A.P. Interview: Mike Goode

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Mike Goode, Production Director, KEDG-FM, The Edge, Las Vegas, Nevada

mike-goode-apr97

by Jerry Vigil

It's a Las-Vegas-kind-of-issue this month. There's the NAB Convention in Las Vegas, and our Test Drive is on the SAW Plus which comes from Innovative Quality Software in Las Vegas. So we decided to check into one of the local stations for a glimpse of radio production in Las Vegas. We had heard some "good" things about Mike Goode at Radiovision's KEDG-FM, the Alternative rocker in the city. While we usually visit with long time veterans in this business, Mike is a newcomer, but his work doesn't show it. The station itself is rare in this day of multi-station facilities in that it is the only station owned by Radiovision. Join us for a brief visit with one of the industry's up and coming producers as Mike tells us about production in Vegas and working at a station that, for a change, is not a victim of merger madness.

RAP: Where did your radio career begin and what brought you to Las Vegas?
Mike: I started with the Academy of Radio Broadcasting in Huntington Beach, California in February of '93. They taught me the basics, like which way to hold a razor blade and stuff like that. Then, I started doing little jobs. My very first radio gig was for a little AM/FM combo in Twenty-Nine Palms, California, which is like, market number nine thousand. Then I did an internship at the legendary KNAC in Long Beach, California from August of 1994 to November of 1994. Basically, I was a production assistant and interned under Malcolm Ryker, who is now at 91X in San Diego, I believe. He's the guy who actually taught me multi-tracking, and I just took off on it from there. After KNAC, I went to KCXX in San Bernardino, which was a new Alternative station that started up on New Year's Day in '95. I did seven to midnight there for about nine months and did imaging production also. The Operations Manager at the time was Steve Hoffman. He left that station and went to The Edge in Las Vegas. Then a couple of months later, he called me up and said, "Hey, do you want to work for me again out here doing production?" I said, "Sure." That was September of 1995.

RAP: You're just barely in the business! What were you doing before radio?
Mike: Prior to the broadcast school I was working entry level mail room at IBM and just got totally sick of my job. So, I said, "I'm out of here...before I get too old."

RAP: Did you have some college background at this time?
Mike: No. Actually, I got thrown out of a community college a long, long time ago. College wasn't the thing for me. They just mailed me a letter saying don't even bother coming back. So, I figured: I love music, and when I enrolled in the academy, I was thinking, "I want to be a DJ." Then I got to learn a little more about the production aspect of it, and I realized, "Hey, this is a lot more fun." When I was doing seven to midnight I thought, "I don't like doing this." It's like sitting in a little laboratory for seven or eight hours a day.

RAP: You've worked for one Operations Manager/Program Director at two different stations. You must work well together.
Mike: Right. I'm pretty fortunate to be working for someone who gives me a lot of freedom, which is basically what The Edge does. If there's a promo that has to be done, either Steve, the Operations Manager, or the General Manager will write it. They'll send it out to Keith Eubanks who voices just about everything under the sun. Once I get it back, they give me the reel and say, "Here, go make this crazy," or something like that. I'll write a few things like sweepers, but I basically just take whatever reel I have from Keith and go from there.


RAP: What are your responsibilities as Production Director?
Mike: I do all the imaging and about ninety-five percent of all the spots we create here, and I make sure all production gets done on time, as far as spots are concerned.

RAP: So you pretty much do everything.
Mike: Yeah. The jocks will come in and voice some spots, but I produce them. I do everything, with the exception of our midday jock who does all of her own IDs and stuff.

RAP: Your station is owned by Radiovision, which unlike most companies today, is not a group of stations. The Edge is the only station owned by Radiovision. What kind of company is this?
Mike: The owner's name is George Tobin--basically a good guy. I don't get to talk to him very much because he's not in very often. I guess we're basically one big, twisted family here. It makes it a lot easier and more fun to talk to people, too. The atmosphere around the station is very, very laid back.

RAP: What kind of hours do you work?
Mike: Usually I'm in around eleven-thirty or noon. I can't say that I can come and go as I please--even though most of the time I do that--but I'll stay until the work is done. If that's five o'clock, then it's five o'clock. If it's two in the morning, then it's two in the morning.

Our morning guys, who get off at ten o'clock, come in to the studio for about an hour or an hour and a half and do their bits and promos for their show for the next day. There's really no point in me coming in at ten o'clock when I can't have a studio for another hour and a half. We're supposed to be building another production studio. It's gonna be pretty much all digital. We're waiting to get the SAW Plus 16-track program in there.

RAP: What are you using in the studio now?
Mike: Right now the main baby is an Alesis ADAT 8-track. The console is actually an old studio board. It's a Ramsa WRS-4424. I've got the Yamaha SPX-1000 for the vocal effects and all the reverb and things like that. I also have a Yamaha digital delay and a DSP, but I don't use those at all. They're just in there taking up space. I've got an Orban 424 compressor/limiter, an Aphex Compellor, and the mic is an Electro-Voice RE-20.

RAP: You mentioned SAW Plus for the new studio. Have you used it before?
Mike: No, I haven't.

RAP: What turned you on to SAW Plus?
Mike: Its price. We've talked to some of the guys over at Innovative Quality Software, the makers of SAW Plus, which is here in Las Vegas. We've seen some brochures and stuff like that, and our General Manager said it looked like what we would get. He asked me what I thought of it, and I said, "Sure."

RAP: Is the new studio going to be for the morning show?
Mike: From what I understand, it's going to be mine. The thing is, I'm doing spots most of the day, for a good chunk of the day. By the time I'm done with that, it's seven o'clock in the evening, and I want to go home. So we're going to get some of the weekenders in here to do the spots, and I'm just going to concentrate on imaging and promos and stuff like that. I've been dying to make a whole bunch of them because our stuff on the air is sounding a little bit stale. It's time to freshen them up.

RAP: That's interesting. Even in a single station environment in a medium market, you're separating the production of the commercials and the imaging. It's a trend that is obviously working its way down from the major markets to the medium markets. Has Keith Eubanks been the voice of the station since you've been there?
Mike: Yes, and actually, he used to voice the station I was at in San Bernardino also. So, I'm very familiar with working with Keith, even though I've never talked to him personally.

RAP: One of Keith's trademarks is his EQ settings, which he does himself. Do you ever change his EQ at all?
Mike: Well, I won't change his EQ. Sometimes I'll add a little more echo or slow it down or speed it up. I won't ever drastically change it, except maybe just to accent a particular phrase or something.

RAP: Does Keith voice all the station IDs and promos?
Mike: Yes, he does it all.

RAP: Is your voice then used primarily for commercials?
Mike: Right, and I'll voice a good ninety-five percent of those. Luckily, I can do a couple of different voices, though. That's something I learned growing up watching cartoons.

RAP: What is your favorite part of the job?
Mike: The imaging, the creative part of it. If I could just sit around producing promos and sweepers all day, that would be ideal for me.

RAP: What gets the creative juices going for you?
Mike: Usually it's old cartoons or TV programs or something like that. If I read the promo or commercial and there's an obvious word or phrase in there that makes me think of something else, I'll try to revert back to a cartoon or something funny--just something silly to connect to that word or phrase. What I've been watching a lot of lately is old Monty Python, the old Flying Circus series.

I'll grab something that's totally bizarre and stupid and way off the deep end. For example, we just did a ticket giveaway for the Smashing Pumpkins when they rolled through here. Steve came up with this idea to create a sounder, "Listen for the sound of a pumpkin getting smashed." Well, obviously, everybody is going to think of somebody hitting a pumpkin with a mallet like Gallagher. I thought, "Wait...this is Las Vegas! Getting smashed here means getting drunk!" So, I came up with a sounder of this pumpkin sitting on a bar stool getting drunk, then falling off. I think a lot of the listeners really didn't understand what it meant, but everybody here at the station got it right away. I like putting a different spin on things.

RAP: The target audience for your format is something like 18-24 year olds. Do you think they relate to Monty Python?
Mike: I think they identify with it, but I don't think they know where it's coming from because the old Monty Python was from quite a while ago. I have quite a few old Monty Python video tapes. They sell them all over the place.

RAP: Listening to tapes you've sent for The Cassette, I noticed you use a lot of sound bites in the promos and in the commercials as well. Tell us about your sound bite library.
Mike: I don't really have one. I've got videos and I tape stuff off of TV. I don't keep a DAT with sound bites on it. When I'm going through a promo and get an idea, I'll think, "Whoa, I remember somebody saying this in a movie," and if I'm lucky, I might have the movie. I keep a lot of movies here on video tape. I think I've got a reel with a whole bunch of drops floating around here somewhere. One of my weak points is organization.


RAP: Production for an Alternative format requires some pretty intense music and effects. What production libraries are you using?
Mike: For spots we're using "Attitude II" from TA&A, Toby Arnold & Associates. That's what I use for a good majority of the music beds and stuff. I just got a CD from Jeff Thomas, the Production Director for Virgin in London. His "Killer Hertz" CD is the most phenomenal thing I've ever heard in my life. I just got it last week, and I've been dying for it. I got a demo tape from Jeff--actually, Keith is the one who sent us the Jeff Thomas demo cassette--and I listened to it and said, "Man, this is what I've been waiting for." It's real easy to use, too. I've also got the "XFX" series, volumes one and two, and those are put out by Sean Caldwell.

RAP: Who writes the commercials?
Mike: The sales reps will write most of those. I'll revamp them if I feel they need it.

RAP: You've sent spots in for The Cassette that were pretty involved, and you were credited as the writer on them. Do you go to that extreme on all the commercials you produce and write?
Mike: If I get a spot and the sales rep writes a little note and says to get as crazy as you want with it, then that's where I'll go. But we have a lot of basic reads, too. As a matter of fact, I would say the majority of them are that way.

RAP: Do you have deadlines for commercials?
Mike: Usually, they start the next day. I get a production order that says, "This starts tomorrow."

RAP: How many commercials would you say you are writing and producing during the week?
Mike: I'd have to say between twenty and twenty-five.

RAP: That would keep you busy. Are you knocking out spec spots, too?
Mike: Not so much, no. I think I've only done about four or five this month. Maybe even less than that.

RAP: You sound like you're doing a lot between the commercials and the imaging. How do you manage your time? You said earlier you weren't much of an organizer.
Mike: Basically, I'll get in here first thing and have a good load of spots I'll have to do. I'll put them in a little "this starts tomorrow" pile. Usually, the first couple of hours, I'll do some imaging. I'll do some sweepers or stuff like that. Once I stop that or I get a creative block or a mental block, I'll just start knocking out the spots. Usually, by four or five o'clock, the whole load is in, and I can figure out where I'm going from there.

I haven't yet learned the time management thing or the little tricks, the little time savers and stuff. But hopefully, the longer I'm in the business, the more experience I'll get. I've still got tons more stuff to learn.

RAP: Have you developed a "formula" for producing a great promo? What's your creative approach?
Mike: I don't know. I think I like using a lot of high-powered stuff like fast beats and crazy sound effects and stuff like that. But, I don't want to add so much stuff that the whole thing sounds like mud. I don't really have a particular formula or anything like that. I just go in there blank and whatever I come out with, I'll know if it sounds good. I guess that's subjective.

RAP: Is the station still using carts?
Mike: Yes. There aren't any plans that I know of to go digital. I'm sure they would like to have it, but I guess they haven't been looking into it. That would be nice, though.

RAP: It sounds like The Edge is treating your creative mind well.
Mike: Yes, and like I said before, it's very laid back here. One of our promotion assistants had the best description of the station and the people who work here: "If you've ever seen the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer cartoon during Christmas time, the old land of the misfit toys is pretty much what we're known as." I kind of like that. It's still a business, of course, but you're allowed your freedom of expression and things like that. How many people can go up to their Operations Manager and call him a bald bonehead and get away with it? There's a lot of room for creativity here, and I'm very thankful for that.

RAP: You've been in radio for only a few short years. How do you perceive this business at this point?
Mike: Crazy. I like it. I never have the same day twice, and I've got a lot of freedom to do what I like doing.

RAP: What's your production philosophy?
Mike: Just try to make it fun for yourself. I think I can identify with our listeners even though I'm probably quite a bit older than they are, but, yeah, if it's not fun, why do it?

RAP: What's down the road for you? Are you looking to move up into the majors?
Mike: Oh, absolutely, I'd love to. I might like to go back to LA because I have some friends there, or I would love to work with Jeff Thomas and the guys at Virgin.

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