R.A.P. Interview: Rich Conway


JV: How many stations does Marlin Broadcasting own, and how many of them are there in your facility?
Rich: Marlin also owns W-BACH in Boston, which is a classical music station. At the “asylum” in Hartford, WCCC is on the third floor; and in our basement, we have our Internet station, Beethoven.com, which as of April is one of the most listened to Internet stations in the world. I recently started doing some imaging for Beethoven.com. Maybe they’ll let me get farted out of a squid to Beethoven’s Fifth.

JV: How many production studios are there at your facility?
Rich: We have two production rooms at WCCC. We also have a room downstairs in Beethoven.com. That’s a brand new facility that’s real nice. I think every room in the building should be a production room, including the bathroom.

JV: What digital workstation are you using, and what other gear is in your studio?
Rich: At WCCC I use the Microsound MTU, and it’s great. For effects, we have an Eventide Harmonizer with 450 built-in effects. When everything goes out of our Autogram 20-channel board, it goes through a Dominator II limiter.

JV: How is WCCC doing in the ratings war?
Rich: We’ve been the #1 Rock station in Hartford for the last 3 years.

JV: What are your responsibilities as Production Director for WCCC?
Rich: At The Rock I do all the imaging, spots, promos, specs, dubs, copywriting and more. I also have an assistant named Holden Johnson. Recently we hired a continuity person who takes care of the administrative part so we can do more production and specs. I’ve learned to really appreciate working with a great staff that does excellent work. The way the department is structured, it gives me the time to constantly be creating new things and keeping our image fresh. Boyd Arnold and Jay Schultz, our General Managers, create a great atmosphere. 

JV: What is your approach to imaging WCCC against the other four rock stations that can be heard loud and clear in Hartford?
Rich: I add many different dimensions to the way WCCC sounds by doing many different voices myself, and I am consistently adding new things that are unique and identifiable to our imaging sound. I’m very careful to keep the station constantly alive with new voices. Nothing should be too dominant. The more voices on the air, the bigger we sound. And the production I do needs to have a theme that holds WCCC together as one because our jocks’ shows are so different from each other. WCCC is an armed and dangerous network of zany sweepers, bits, promos, news reports, soap operas, and characters all stamped and approved by Squid Seekers spanning the globe.

JV: Theatre of the mind production often takes more on-air time to execute than simple 5-second sweepers and IDs or 20- and 30-second promos. How do you justify longer pieces of production when many programmers lean towards short, sweet, and to the point?
Rich: I visualize someone there listening alone, not knowing what is coming next. During the song, they’re thinking about their life and the things they need to do. How do you capture that person’s attention in just a few seconds and make them notice you? As much as I buy into the theory that things need to always be tight and right, that can’t always be the main focus. How much fun can you and your listener have together in five seconds? If they’ve taken the time to listen, you owe them an escape of some kind. If they wanted only music and not to be entertained, they’d be listening to a CD.

JV: Where do you go, in your mind or elsewhere, to get the creative juices flowing?
Rich:I try not to think about it and just let it happen naturally. When I’m really hard up, I sit naked in a bath tub filled with hundreds of transistor radios.

JV: How would you describe your “style” or the “attitude” of your production?
Rich: I believe each piece of production should have an attitude of it’s own and be different from the last. I like to go from a promo that rocks so hard it gives you the chills, to something so abstract it makes you wonder “what the hell was that?” Radio with the same attitude all the time sounds one-dimensional. I think radio should be used as a theater and be limitless and touch many different emotions. Sometimes I’ll do things that are serious and say, “This is the station that played Staind for the first time in the entire country…” This is the attitude that gives you creditability as a rock station. Other times, I like to argue with “big voice” (Paul Turner) about how he’s got to stop calling the other stations a bunch of pussies. In the meantime, the General Manager is yelling at us both that if we don’t stop we’re both fired. It’s funny when “studio guy” (me) and Paul argue and fight in a promo. This type of imaging lets the listener read between the lines themselves without us actually bragging about ourselves. I love it when we do things like this. It makes the listener feel like they’re part of a zoo. It also adds an entirely different kind of personality to the station. This has been how I’ve separated WCCC from the rest, by creating an image that’s fun and completely different from anyone else in the market.

JV: Do you have creative freedom to put just about anything you want on the air?
Rich: I’m very fortunate to have the green light to create what I please within reason. Things that are a little too nuts, I’ll pass by Picozzi first. I’m surrounded by many great minds that always have great ideas and feedback for me. Doing it alone gets to be a drag. I like the concept of a team environment—the more ideas the better. I don’t work with any egos, so it’s easy around here.

JV: Sounds like you have a good working relationship with Picozzi, the Program Director.
Rich: He’s a guy that’s constantly ready for the next goof. I really feel some of the things I’ve created in the last three years never would have come to be elsewhere. Most other programmers’ attitudes are in the “just play the music” vein. Picozzi thrives on good radio.

It’s also kind of neat working at a station that I grew up listening to. I know how WCCC has evolved over the years, and that has given me some insight on the way we need to sound.

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Always great to hear about other people’s creativity!!?

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