Bumper Morgan, Production Director, WYHY-FM, Nashville and owner of Bumper Productions: "Radio's 1/4 Hour Tour Guide" - Part 1 of 2
Our interview with Bumper Morgan proved to be full of invaluable information. Rather than omit much of the information to fit the entire interview into this month's issue, we will do it in 2 parts.
Bumper Morgan began his career 12 years ago in Phoenix at the age of 16. He paid his dues and polished his skills in several markets including Louisville, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Cleveland, and San Antonio before landing in Nashville at the number one rated Y-107. Bumper jocked and produced everywhere he went, and it was at Y-107 where he left the request lines and liner cards behind, for the time being, to enjoy his position as Production Director, and his status as one of radio's most talented and creative producers.
Bumper: A lot of jocks branched off into programming...it tempted me, but production is where it's at...it's more of a creative forum.
R.A.P. What's the studio setup at Y-107?
Bumper: We have 2 production rooms, an 8-track and a 4-track. In the 8-track studio we have an Otari 8-track, two Otari 2-tracks, an E-MAX, a Juno 106 synthesizer, a modern Audiotronics board, and the usual outboard gear. In the other studio we have a 4-track with two 2-tracks, an SPX-90, and a few other toys.
R.A.P. What assistance do you have in production?
Bumper: We have a good support staff. I give some of it to our afternoon jock, Gary Jeff Walker. Gary is wonderful on both commercials and promos. Terry "Hollywood" Hendrix helps out also. They're both great. I do the major image promos as well as commercials and they help pick up the slack.
R.A.P. Who writes the promos?
Bumper: The promos are written in a lot of different ways. We'll get the basic facts and then I'll get in there behind the mike, my mind will go into overdrive, and I'll spontaneously produce them that way. Some of the best stuff has come out that way, just messing with words. Spontaneity, it comes in the hallways, it comes in a jock meeting. People start cracking jokes or cracking lines and we'll say, "Hey let's use that for a promo!" It may sound like we're going by the seat of our pants, but we're really not. I've been watching TV and listening to the radio, and it seems like everybody is going after that "baby boom" that's out there. Baby this, baby that. Movies, commercials, TV series, the subject matter is baby, baby, baby, baby. So we did something recently, very spontaneously, to sell our winter wear, our sweatshirts. It went something like... (Bumper shifts to his promo voice), "Y-107 has the perfect FIT...for the whole family", and you hear a baby screaming to tie in with FIT. You know... (back to promo voice), "Priced to pacify!!".
R.A.P. Who writes the commercials?
Bumper: Well, we don't have a copywriter. We work very closely with the sales department and we have a young lady, Theresa, who helps them with copywriting and stuff like that. That's their job for the most part because they see the client, they know what the client wants. As far as me writing the commercials, I don't have enough time to write them. I have enough time to improvise, or to build on or delete from them, but not enough time to write commercials. There's always somebody riding our tail, whether it's programming, or sales, or the general manager wanting something simple.
R.A.P. How many promos and commercials would you say you do per week on the average?
Bumper: I'd say a good 8 promos a week, and then we have spot shots on top of that. Spot shots are like mini-promos, 10 or 15 seconds, that capsulate a promo. We run them on the opposite side of the clock. As far as the commercials, I'd say around 15 to 20 a week. This week has been extremely busy because of the Christmas rush. Just recently, we did this great commercial for this Nashville sporting goods store. It goes, "Baseballs, basketballs, tennis balls, golf balls, (sfx), WE'VE GOT BALLS!". It's that kind of stuff that's really neat to get people's attention. A lot of it is just marketing, taking what you learn from sales and applying it to programming, and applying what you've learned from programming to sales. There's a little bit of sales in our programming and a little bit of programming in our sales. That's the marriage between the two departments, and for the most part, they work very well together.