Q It Up: Who Were Your Mentors? - Part 2

 

Al Peterson, Radio America Network, Arlington VA: My heroes weren't radio folks, but envelope-pushers in the electronic music arena: Wendy Carlos, Perrey-Kingsley, Herb Deutsch, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Bob Moog and others. But my all-time hero was guitarist/inventor Les Paul.

Right around the time I started messing around with tape recorders as a kid, my mom pulled out an old '78 of Les (recorded before he teamed up with Mary Ford) and turned me on to his technology and artistry. A few years later, as I got more skilled, I wrote to London Records asking for some hard technical details on how certain aspects of his recordings were accomplished. To my astonishment, he replied to me personally with some skimpy but useful explanations. We corresponded a few more times, and I got to see him in an impromptu performance on Long Island in the early 1970s. And I found out he built a bootleg radio station in his NYC apartment before he was 30 years old, so what can I say? Instant Hero!

In college, my head was wrapped up in music and recording, but my heart was in acting and radio performance, so I applied everything I learned to radio production. I gathered some tricks along the way from other production folks, but Les Paul was the one who inspired me above all others. And his first letter to me is framed and hanging in my basement office/studio in tribute.

Ben Thorgeirson, Ben Thorgeirson Voice Over: I've got a few! My production prof at SAIT, Richard Stroobant was a big one. Dave Cruickshank, formerly of Rogers Medicine Hat (who I never actually worked with). My current production manager, Justin Dove. I learned work ethic from all of these people and how to judge how badly you want something. I think drive is one of my most valuable skills and I gained it from each of these guys.

Juliette Nicholls, The Heart Network, London, United Kingdom: I've had a number of mentors in the past few years.

I started with an internship with Shaun Skinner - he spent literally months showing me the ropes with Pro Tools and the basics of writing and producing trails. He gave me a wealth of knowledge and a whole load of patience as I started from scratch.

Since then, various people have let me watch and learn from them. Steve Martin and Kat Kerr particularly stand out as they both gave up loads of their time to pass on their knowledge of editing, tips and tricks. They also went out of their way to give me opportunities to learn more on the job, and that was invaluable. I really appreciate how much effort they put in.

More recently, I've been accepted onto a formal six-month mentorship scheme for Sound Women. I'm really looking forward to learning more from a woman in radio who's been on the journey I'm on now before me.

Jay Helmus, Newcap Radio, Richmond, BC: Oh boy. I have several. All of whom I have a great deal of respect and admiration for.

For radio... Craig Jackman (RAP Writer, Production Director, Professor at Loyalist College) was my first mentor and taught me all the fundamentals. Chris Pottage (Production Director, Toronto) taught me how compression works, EQ, phase, signal flow... He was also instrumental in shaping my approach to workplace conduct, positivity, outlook, etc... He still critiques my stuff.

Geez, there are so many others. Dave Foxx (Z100, New York) Dave Cockram (Producer, Toronto), Michael Sherlock (Production Director, Vancouver), Shelley Zavitz (Creative Director), Chris Leitz (Creative Director), Ronnie Stanton (Operations Manager, Vancouver), John Masecar (Producer, Vancouver), Paul Kaye (Operations Manager, Vancouver)...

And then for music production... Grahame Cochrame and Joe Gilder (Dueling Mixes) have been the big ones for me. Dave Pensado's online YouTube show "Pensado's Place"... David Glenn (The Mix Academy) has been what I'm into right now and his online content is absolutely fantastic for mixing. Garth Richardson (Rage Against the Machine, Rise Against) has been critiquing my mixes and developing my ear as well.

And then obviously my college professors, Don Crockford and Iain Barrie. And there's probably dozens of other people that I'm forgetting (sorry), but I already feel like this is turning into a laundry list. I guess the point might be that it's impossible to figure everything out on your own when it comes to audio production. Or at least, I certainly can't. I need mentors! :)

Steve Wein, KTRS, Reel BIG Productions, St. Louis, MO: I've been in the radio biz so long, that I'd probably have to credit Marconi himself as he and I were setting up the very first radio station!

 Just kidding, but back when I began, Stan Freeberg and Dick Orkin were the two guys cranking out cleverly written, beautifully acted production that just exuded entertainment value, as well as getting the client's core message across to the listener. I attached one of my early spots from 1973 that I wrote, voiced, and produced for a client that gave me only a few grocery items as copy points, and I had sixty seconds to fill. I ended up doing all the voices in the spot, which was a challenge back in the day of AM top 40 radio, with a production room that consisted of one turntable, one cart machine, and one mono reel-to-reel.

I made the Radio Ranch style of writing a bedrock of everything I've done through today.

The next influence on my work came in 1976 when I was in Orlando radio. My father, who owned an AM/FM combo in Muscle Shoals, AL, talked me into spending six months there as PD to get the new FM on track. There wasn't much else going on in Muscle Shoals, except the recording industry. I hung around Muscle Shoals Sound while such groups as Lynyrd Skynyrd recorded, and was introduced to multi-tracking. It really changed the production process to me because of the flexibility of what the individual tracks would give us in the production process. But the first time I could use that knowledge didn't come until the mid ‘80s when I was able to use a 4-track.

Back in those days, I would aircheck every top station I could, then try to dissect their air sound and production process (Otherwise known as stealing ideas). There were probably hundreds of individuals whose work I heard on all those classic radio stations whose names I would never know. But, like all of us who do what we do, I would listen critically, and if I heard an approach or interesting effect, I'd try to duplicate it and include it in my repertoire.

When digital production first popped on the scene, I begged our GM to update because of the creative effect it would have on the production process. My first crack at it was the Orban DSE 7000. From that point on, we had the "undo" function, so we were not afraid to experiment any more. Sure beats having to dig through the trash looking for that piece of tape that we just edited out, and had to put back because the idea didn't work!

Nilo Gomes, 94FM, São Luis, Brazil, www.nilogomes.com: Well, currently I have in a person a great source of professional inspiration. Dave Foxx for me is a complete professional. His voice techniques and editing encouraged me to always seek new ways and follow my intuition so that I can find motivation and overcome new challenges. Another thing that strikes me in Dave Foxx is the ability to reinvent oneself and keep up with changes that often happen in your professional area.

Dave Foxx this is the guy!

Matthew Escobedo: The person who has had the biggest influence to my skills today is the Sales Manager for American General Media in San Luis Obispo, CA. He taught me to build relationships, be consistent and treat each person as if they are your only client. His name is Mark Tobin.

Mitch Todd, Sirius/XM, New York, NY: The radio “bug” bit me hard when I was around 11 or 12. I was totally influenced by the real-life Adrian Cronauer (Good Morning Vietnam). He and my father did some creative work together (radio, film, TV & theatre) in the ‘70s/’80s, and I was totally enamored with his many talents. I knew exactly what I wanted to do by 12 years old: Be on the air & producing imaging. I then started building “bedroom studios” from Heathkit kits & Radio Shack parts and pieces and had my 1st bedroom radio station at 13.

I’d go to Adrian’s AM & FM stations he worked for at the time, as well as a UHF TV station. I was awestruck at the various projects my family & I were involved with via Adrian (including audio for video post work). He was the guy who put up with all my questions and even let me use (and break once) the radio & TV station’s equipment. It was also my first experience with analog automation beasts with carousels & Revox reels!

As far as creative inspiration, by the time I began doing production full-time in the mid-‘80s, Dick Orkin was my hero. I only met him twice at west coast seminars, but I would often dissect how he’d meticulously craft compelling, funny copy, and then execute it with a comic’s perfect rhythm.

A lot of kind people helped me over the years, but these are the two people who truly inspired me along the way.

Mark Oliver, FM Talk 1065, WAVH-FM, Mobile, AL: There have been several individuals who have been huge influences in my career. The first person that comes to mind is the guy that sat me down in front of a mic that was actually attached to a transmitter. That person was Dan Mason at WEKU-FM, Eastern Kentucky University's 50 KW station. Yes, that Dan Mason, former President and CEO of Group W/ CBS Radio. Dan took the time to guide and instruct those of us that were allowed to have a few hours of air-time on the University's frequency. I admired him at the time and tried to emulate his on air sound and style as much as possible.

Another individual that comes to mind is J.B. Carmichel, my program director at WAXU-AM & FM in Lexington, KY, where I was able to learn the real basics of all aspects of commercial radio, from on air to music director to production. I still remember that J.B. during one critique session spelled the word J-U-S-T -- stopped me from saying JEST on the air. Maybe one of his pet peeves… it is certainly now one of mine.

Thanks to John Weeks, who helped me refine my production style and was the first person to teach me how to use one of the most difficult DAWs I have ever tried to use. Every other piece of software has been child's play by comparison.

Dave Cobb, who offered a tremendous opportunity and the guidance that helped my success in programming the first Sports Talk FM signal in the Pensacola, FL area.

I continue to learn from people like Roy Williams for copy writing and marketing and Dick Orkin of Chicken Man fame, who lead one of the most entertaining and informative conferences that I have attended.

There have been others, but these individuals have been the most influential in my career that has provided a good income and a lot of fun for over 40 years. Everyone should be so lucky!

Johnny George, www.johnnygeorge.com: Very happy to remember that Eric Edwards of 93 WNAP was my first mentor in my early radio days. (1970s) He was the Production Director at WNAP (Indianapolis) when I was trying to break into radio. I watched his style in assembling promos and some tricks of the trade and was fascinated with his abilities. I ended up producing a Dance Music show called, Studio 93 from 1977-79 and utilized many of the tricks I watched Eric use in commercial & Promo production. What a wonderful talent & friend.

I also studied the styles of Dick Orkin, who I’ve studied with, Phil Proctor & Joe Cipriano.

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