Q It Up: Who Were Your Mentors? - Part 4

 

Abel Sanchez: Being raised in the NYC listening area, I was fortunate to grow up listening to some of the best in the industry (on air talent & production/imaging). It’s what made me want to be in radio.

I’m sure like many others replying, when it comes to imaging, hands down the biggest influence was Dave Foxx, even before I knew enough about radio to know who Dave Foxx is. As a kid I’d listen to Z100, and yeah, music was what I’d turn on the radio for, but something about those things that go between the songs… Wow it makes this station sound larger than life! -- especially in the late ‘80s, ‘90s early 2000s. I’d go on vacation with my parents and listen to stations in other markets, and it just wasn’t the same -- not necessarily bad, just not the same. Once I got into radio, all my imaging was initially an attempt to emulate the imaging on Z100. I’d listen to sounds in his work and then sit in front of my machine for hours until I figured out how he created it.

Eventually I learned what my own style was, but always measure it up to Dave’s work -- is it close to level of Dave’s work. And I never lost the desire to make every piece of imaging sound big. Not just in sound but in demeanor, feel, description, influence… make every piece impossible to ignore, make it demand attention even if for just 3 seconds. If need be, throw in a second of nothing, make the silence grab the listeners attention.

[silence - “what happen to the radio”?] BOOM, drop the most important message, attention getter!

So that even if the promo was about paper clip it, would give the impression that this paper clip is the one and only, the best paper clip, the only one that matters. It’s the one paperclip that will in some inexplicable way make you special, so you have to have it. All the while keeping transition clean, maintaining tempo, and clarity.

One of the many big things I learned from studying his work was that sometimes, to achieve a big and impacting sound, all that’s needed is simplicity. Simplicity at the right time sometimes can be huge.

Kinda corny/cheesy/geeky, but then again what else would you expect from a radio nerd who collects air checks from on air personalities I admire/look up to and imagers along with their work, especially station launches. =)

Alex Kerr, Oxfordshire Radio, Banbury, United Kingdom: The person / people that most influenced me were a couple of presenters on Radio Clyde when I was about 10. There was a guy called Dave Marshall who presented the breakfast show. I listened to him every weekday. And a presenter called Mike Riddoch. These guys were great, their style of presentation was focused on the listener, which is sadly lacking in the industry today, a simple form of broadcasting where the listener is king. I learned a lot from them and this is the style I try to include in all my radio shows, the connection to the listener. The way they include them in their whole show while still presenting to the station format was second to none.

Another place was Hospital Radio in Glasgow where I was able to develop my skill, and used their form of presentation in my own style. I am now involved in training and I try and get the trainees to become a way of life for the listener. The guys from longtime ago shaped and inspired me into the kind of presenter, trainer that I am today, and if I could I would thank them for that. It would also be good if for some reason someone would feel the same way as I did and maybe help pave a way for some future proper Radio Presenters.

Joshua Mackey, www.MackeyVoiceTalent.com: There's simply not enough space in this publication to list all of the people that have influenced me in my career and/or skills over the years. But hey, if I can handle squeezing sixty seconds of information into thirty seconds of voiceover, I can give this a go.

My desire to be in radio began as a very young child listening to KBPI in Denver, Colorado. I can't tell you the names of the jocks, but they were awesome. And I wanted their jobs. As I got older, I met a lot of people involved in music, radio and television, and they all had a hand in inspiring me and helping me develop my skills in audio production, broadcasting, and voiceover. In 2005, I landed a job at a Clear Channel cluster in Nebraska and was heavily influenced by a man named John Brandt. He's been at that cluster for somewhere around 50 years. His love of radio and the passion he had when he talked about spinning records and slicing tape was very inspirational for me. When I embarked on my freelance career, I had a number of people that I looked to for influence and guidance. Andrew Frame of bafSoundworks.com provided a tremendous amount of guidance. As did a whole slew of radio folks, freelancers, and individual contractors. Nic Natarella, Arlene Tannis, and many others helped shape what I see as professional voiceover and audio production. I also turned to a professional named Bill DeWees. I have only talked to Bill once, when he was critiquing my voice demo, but I follow his YouTube channel and stay abreast of latest tips through his email newsletters.

It's been a long road of being inspired and guided by some really outstanding people. For those of you who have helped me along the way, here is a heartfelt "Thank you!". What a great way to end 2015 and begin 2016!

Michael Shishido, Michael T Creative: Number one on my list of mentors is a guy named Kamasami Kong. His real name is Bob Zix. He was the first Program Director who gave me a shot in real radio. Up to that point, I'd been pretending to be a DJ at our college station. Kong was PD at the time for KIKI-AM, a Top40 station, but he was also a production genius. I learned from watching him do his thing on Otari reel-to-reels, grease pencils, and splicing tape. He made the best concert spots. And he had incredible fun doing them. That was also my exposure to 2-track recording, slap-back echo, creating reverb when you had no apps or outboard gear.

As far as voice work goes, I listen to great national voices in promos and commercials. When I take the time to listen to masters like Joe Cipriano, Allison Janney, George Del Hoyo, Bill Ratner, etc., first of all, I realize that I've got a long way to go. But they're so good. Just listen and study what and how they're voicing their material. It's inspiring. Locally, I remember my best friend, best man, and dearly departed radio brother, Cliff (Scott) Richards. He had the best pipes in Honolulu.

I've been in radio for decades, but one thing's for sure for me or anyone: watch, listen, and study the best. There's always something new to learn.

Adam Venton, UKRD, Bristol, United Kingdom: Mentors… First and foremost, those I’ve worked with. Number one would have to be Ben Marks (now of ReelWorld Europe). He was senior producer at GWR (which became Heart Bristol) when I worked as a street team member, attending events etc., when I was fresh out of university. After sitting in with him and realizing that imaging was something I wanted to do, he coached and trained me in return for me getting him vox pops and audio from listeners in the street. Over a two year period (unpaid), I went from having no knowledge whatsoever, to getting a job at another company, UKRD – a job I still hold today at time of writing!

Even after I moved to UKRD, and Ben subsequently went to Pure Tonic Media (and ReelWorld), we stayed in touch. He helped me get a foothold on some CHR work, and I still freelance for him now. He just can’t shake me off!

Others include Colin McGinness, my current boss, who has given me room to grow – something that is so so important as a producer, and is actually hard to come by these days with such rigid formats. He is also the master of feature audio – particularly remembrance audio around conflict (he’s won a few RAP awards to boot). George Taylor, previously of ReelWorld now at IMGR, is the most technically gifted producer I’ve ever seen. His attention to details is second to none, and his musical approach to imaging is superb.

All of the above I’ve had the luxury of working with, or under, at some point – so the word ‘mentor’ really applies to them directly. Other producers I admire and have contacted for feedback etc., would be Chris Nicoll, Ben Neidle, Simon Palframan, Jeff Schmidt (killer sound design) and of course Mr. Dave Foxx. I always tell young producers to contact producers whose work they admire, and ask for feedback/critique. It’s the best way to improve as a producer, and I’ve over the years found that the imaging community are very giving and open to such contact. Everyone seems to help each other.

Dave Spiker: Great question! I think I've learned from nearly everyone I've worked with. I've even learned from people I've trained. In creative endeavors, everyone has an opinion and every opinion has a nugget of wisdom. Here's my top three (or more accurately three off the top of my head). Nancy Wolfson (braintracksaudio.com) offered the most challenging, most cerebral, most rewarding VO coaching. It was almost a year of blood, sweat and tears but taught me things my 30+ years of experience hadn't. Ray Wallick was an old boss with golden ears and a quest for sonic perfection. My production masterpieces were rarely "good enough" for him. I hated it then; I appreciate it now. And then, Dan O'Day. Everyone knows Dan (danoday.com). His creative summits were golden. I attended several but wish I had attended them all. Great insights on copywriting and creative thinking. I've also learned great things from Pat Fraley, Susan Blu and Elaine Craig. And have gained insights by the truckload at Faffcon events. In the future, I'm looking forward to learning more from Dave Foxx with his new endeavor.

Craig Jackman: Easy, though it wasn't really a "skills". The person who influenced me most in my career is my former creative partner Renaud Timson. He's the one that cemented the idea that just because we're in Canada doesn't mean we can't produce the best commercials and promos. He's the one that cemented the idea that "this is good" wasn't good enough and we had to strive for "this is better" or even "this is great". He's the one that convinced me that a really great commercial doesn't necessarily need the fanciest whiz-bangiest production, so long as it hits the listener right between the eyes. Renaud's the one that set the goal for us one year when he said "We are going create something that is Clio worthy and enter the Clio's this year". I'll be damned if 8 months later ... boom! 2 Clio nominations.

As far as skills go, the main one was Jon Crowe at the start of my career. Just watching how he built and mixed things together in the days of tape. Late in my career Dave Foxx and Trevor Shand certainly were major influences.

Dennis Daniel: My influences are so many, I couldn’t possibly list them all here. I’ll just concentrate on some of the major ones. ERNIE KOVACS for his dedication to innovation and using the mediums of radio and TV in ways they had never been used before. On his gravestone it says, “Nothing In Moderation.” True.

THE MARX BROTHERS and MONTY PYTHON. They helped me view the world in a more twisted way. BOB DYLAN, for his genius with words. PETER SELLERS for the way he brought characters to life. HARLAN ELLISON for the way he expresses himself when writing reviews and books. All of these and countless more have worked their magic right into my DNA, and I feel their presence every day of my life.

Jordan Taz Lerman, Entercom, Seattle, WA: I was a fortunate dude, and from Chicago, so about 20 years ago when I started in Radio, my internship was at the defunct WRCX-Rock 1035. There, as afternoon drive Intern, then Producer, for Lou Brutus, I watched and learned from a talented perfectionist, kind of a mad genius. Down the hall in Production, I learned an immeasurable amount of skill from Production Director Jeff Laird. Awesome guy, but unfortunately died just years ago. Finally, Ned Spindle. When it comes to writing and execution of seriously entertaining radio prod and imaging, there isn’t anyone better than Ned.

Richard Stroobant, SAIT Polytechnic, Calgary, AB: The one thing I love about radio is how open EVERYONE is to helping someone who is just starting out. I constantly have radio friends saying “Anytime you want me to come talk to your class, I’m in!” The “pay it forward” mentality is so prevalent in this industry. I’m sure like everyone else in this Q it up section, I have a very long list of people who are responsible for my successes in both my careers (radio production and teaching).

I’ve been very lucky to have worked with legends in this business. Incredible morning men like Gerry Forbes and the late Norm Edwards. These two men showed me the commitment needed to be successful. I’ve worked with (not for) the best GMs in the world, like Marty Forbes & Pat Holiday. These guys showed me that GMs can be human and compassionate while still making hard decisions. They showed me that people matter. I’ve been very lucky to work with incredible PDs as well. Stewart Meyers and Bob Harris, who left me with enough rope to go and play and trusted me with the sound of their station. The late Greg Haraldson and Tom Tompkins, who were honest with me and took a chance hiring this young kid. Some of the best producers in this country have inspired me to be better, but the one who stands out is the late Gord Dolny. Gord taught me the technical side of production, and coaching talent. I’ve been lucky enough to not only have them as mentors, but also as friends. These people shaped my development, and I know for a fact if it wasn’t for ALL of these individuals, I would not have had the success I have enjoyed.

However, there is one person who has helped me in BOTH careers. Steve Olson. I got to know Steve before I even got into radio. To get into the SAIT radio program, I had to interview a person in industry, I picked Steve Olson. Little did I know I would become his first “student”. He taught me so much about the intricacies of the business and how to deal with people. He spent time in his basement teaching me how to improve on the air, and how to be a better person. I had the chance to work with him at two radio stations and I became a sponge. It really was no big surprise that he would later take a job teaching in the radio program at SAIT. And as much as he helped me in radio, he continues to help me even more in education. Little did I know that I would follow him and work alongside him for a 3rd time, teaching audio production at SAIT. The transition from industry to education is not a quick step, but it became a lot smoother for me having my best friend helping me navigate the route. Without Steve Olson’s tutelage, I might still be in Wainwright, Alberta doing bowling reports. 

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