Blog (7)

Tuesday, 27 January 2015 00:00

Why I Love Detroit

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I often think of Detroit, and the Rodney Dangerfield of cities… Time to give respect, show the love, man up, and be proud of the Motor City…

I think sometimes the dred we hear in the local news, the negative way friends from out-of-state view our home, and the way national media covers Detroit and the Motor City with a clear spite makes us forget how great this town, and this state really are!

Sure we’ve had mayors who have not helped, some who have hurt… a lot, thanks Kwame. Oh yea and the feeling that American built stuff isn’t so good anymore. Well that’s all hogwash. So as one of the behind the curtain people here, I’m going on a little crusade. One of enlightenment, one for the good, no great stuff right here that even those who live here forget. Who knows, maybe, just maybe, if we start to be just a little more proud of the Motor City, a little more proud of this great state of lakes… MAYBE we can help make it even BETTER!

So, reason #1


This is the only place in the world where:

  • We see concept cars roll down the road!
  • Along with Random strange “Cars”
  • Where a caravan of next years cars circle the cities highways with manufacture plates
  • AND where we can see a 1965 Pontiac Trans Am (super rare) next to a 2010 Chevy Camaro at a random gas station!

I'd love to hear why you love YOUR TOWN... or the town your in now, and the imaging you've done there.  Tweet them to @fmprodguy, click the contact button above, or just email me.


Tuesday, 27 January 2015 00:00

Country Imaging, or selling Pickles to Penguins

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Sometimes that’s what I feel like I’m doing, selling Pickles to a Penguin. Sound strange?

Country imaging to start with is a bit of a Pickle, misunderstood by many, often described by referencing different formats, rather than talking about what it is, and how it communicates with the audience (the Penguin)...

Or, in my little corner of the world, the daily challenge of taking loose information (the Pickle), and writing, voicing (or getting a outside voice to read), and producing it quickly… from Making “Math Fun” in a Country Squared weekend (Thompson Square tickets), to producing my 301st Toby Keith imaging element, and trying to find a way to be different/fun every time and avoid topic burnout (NOT KIDDING, including 76 promos)… and keeping the focus on the ONE place it belongs… the listener.1

***Here is where we get to the Opinion part, feel free to have your own, and even email me with differences***

Whether it’s what Country Imaging “IS”, or the daily grind, to me it’s Pickles for a Penguin. Finding a way to tie things together. Finding a way to introduce things to the audience. And never forgetting to keep it fun. After all that’s why people listen.

Country imaging is NOT “CHR with a Twang”, or kinda like Hot AC… it’s a wonderful thing, where fart jokes and family values sit at the same table, where beers are for horses, grandma’s tell of good ole days, and songs about Dogs AND Homeboys, just work. The inspiration is in the life style, the music, the stories, and the people… Sure you can hear some neat things, cleaver lines, and get ideas from other formats. But Country Radio has a loyalty that CHR dreams of having, that Hot AC wishes for, because it’s DIFFERENT.

You see, I’m lucky; my CBS stations in Detroit give me a level of creative freedom that’s not only rare, it’s unheard of. I’m blessed. And if I have learned just one thing from selling Country Music to Detroit, it’s that Penguins can LOVE Pickles, you just need to speak their language…

Tuesday, 27 January 2015 00:00

Creative Organization

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Creativity and Organization are not polar opposites… No one multi-tasks quite like modern radio people do.


The number of hats warn in any size market can be mind numbing. In markets from small to large, we’re doing jobs that 3 or 4 did years ago. Getting organized can save you time, time you can use to be creative, and/or get home before the sun goes down. So I’ve produced 2,914 promos and sweepers for CBS Radio… this year. Here’s some of the systems I use to try to say sane, creative, and get everything done in time to have time for my family." >FILE NAMES

Pick a system that makes your sessions searchable… and ideas rediscover able. For me I use a Year Month Day system, a 3 digit code for content type, including the station name and topic in every file name. So I can run a search by station, topic, or whatever and because I use the Year Month Day filename it automatically sorts in every computer.

For example the second Taylor Swift Live On Letterman promo I just cut for WQYK is:

121002pro – WQYK_Taylor Swift Letterman


I use Master Directories for the type, and breakout from there. WYCD, WQYK, WOMC, etc they all have master directories for VO, Session, and Mixdown directories. I have every session, every VO raw audio file, and a mixdown of each one for in most cases almost 10 years. 

But unlike alot of folks, I do NOT copy every file used in a session into it's session file. instead, for example I have a Master SFX directory where everything is orginized. Audition will pull everything in from where it is, not needing to dump a second or third copy of everything across my drive. Keeps Dups down, and keeps backups FAST, since the only files that change are the Voice, Session, and Mixdowns. The Master directories for audio elements are SFX=Imaging FX, Loops and virtual instrument files, FX=realistic Sound ideas type, Music, Commercial Beds Drops, Listeners, and Artist actualites. So since I have 265 Tim McGraw sessions, I can load a promo from 5 years ago, and still loads 95% of the time finding every file, but I don't have 265 copies of Don't Take The *fricken* Girl on my Hard Drive!

The Good part of this, it keeps fragmentation on the Hard Drive to a minimum, and creates the possibility to backup my latest work super quickly. Plus by keeping duplicate files to a minimum I have have 20,701 sessions on my hard drive at the same time... Yes 20,701 not joking!


I’ve survived 4 hard drive deaths, and 2 studio floods… literally. All with almost no data loss. How? Simple, off site backup. Today it’s easier than ever with online services like Carbonite, and low Hard Drive prices. Plus since the master audio directories stay mostly the same (new VO, new music, and SFX are added but not on every session in just one file) I can quickly and easily sync the home studio and have 100% digital parity on the portable hard drives I use every day at CBS Detroit... and even a quick bus powered USB for on the go.

So whether this seems hopeless anal, not your way, or a good idea, the bottom line is when you feel like your trying to keep all the plates spinning, or feel like your juggling chainsaws, you can shave time off of that next Taylor Swift promo, where by loading an old session, you can at least start with your songs, hooks, already edited… Then go home at a decent time for once…

Ideas and input always welcome...

Tuesday, 27 January 2015 00:00

Can you Say March Madness?

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YES it is True, the NCAA has Trademarks. You can’t say “March Madness”, you can’t put it in an email from your station, etc, just like the Super Bowl. And yes it’s always been that way. Although the last several years they have been ramping up their legal action. But confusion remains, because it’s more than March Madness you can not say, there’s lots of things you CAN NOT say in commercials OR promos… period.  Just like the Super Bowl, and the songs played on radio, there always remains the confused and/or misinformed client, sales person, and of course even production people… So here is the legal dope from real attorneys.*** Please see disclaimer below ***

You Can Not Use any of NCAA Trademarks. In sponsorships, marketing, and promotions, avoid using NCAA or team trademarks, or any related protected words, logos, copyrights ANYWHERE… On-Air, In Print, on your Station’s Website, email, or anything that could be considered from your station.  

Only official NCAA Corporate Partners and Corporate Champions have the right to participate in ticket giveaways, sweepstakes, and contests using any of the above. Even if your station purchased the tickets to a tournament game, or you GM is giving away “the tickets they bought” a judge won’t buy it. Any and ALL giveaway/sweepstakes/contest must be done in connection with an official NCAA Corporate Partner or Corporate Champion and must be approved by the NCAA and CBS.

Stations can only accept third party advertising that uses NCAA trademarks, logos and/or footage from official NCAA Corporate Partners or Corporate Champions.  Before accepting NCAA-related advertisements from third parties, please confirm that the advertiser is an official NCAA Corporate Partner or Corporate Champion.

Yes that means if you get a dub from across town saying you didn’t produce it won’t necessarily protect you.

Can a Jock talk about it?! Yes, yes, and No according to the NCAA. Your station must have obtained official press credentials to report “news” while the game is on-going.  When the games over, you can report the “news” of the game, the winner, the score, and “newsworthy” information from the game.

Questions? Please contact your Station Lawyer

*** Disclaimer: Although I did talk with more than one broadcast lawyer about this, the rules and guidelines are something YOUR station lawyer and company should guide you on. I’ve gone more towards the safe and legal end above and mean this blog as a public service to help the stations and production people (like you and me) better understand the dangers above. The question of IF they would catch you, is a risk I would not take and only you and your station can. I know stations and people in small towns that have been sent legal letters and major markets that had one slip by without notice. Better safe than sorry, better you know your risk… than have someone loose their job over it. ***

Tuesday, 27 January 2015 00:00

Both Sides of the Fence 2: Dear Production

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The grass is always greener they say… Over the last year, I’ve had more and more chances to see things from more than one side… 13 plus years with CBS Radio, AND I’m now taking on freelance Voice Over clients (thus the two sides).

I wouldn’t change a moment with CBS, I’ve worked with some of the best Voice Over artists, programmers, and yes some astoundingly suburb Market Managers/GMs and don’t plan on stopping as long as they will have me. And am having a blast being the voice for some amazing stations, big, small, near and far away.

Dear Production/Imaging/Programmer Director person:

  • Voice guy/gal gives me: Too much “extra” stuff OR doesn’t give me any “wild lines”
  • DON’T think they are sloppy, can’t read it right the first time, OR is lazy. Different stations want different things… Some want all the outtakes, others only want one take.
  • DO communicate with them, letting them know what you want. Most VO people will do their best to give you it.
  • Voice guy/gal is a “one trick pony”
  • DON’T ever assume that’s true!
  • DO give good copy notes! For example asking for something “edgy”, does that mean you want them to be breathy, quiet, with a darkish mood and a smile? Does that mean you want a dispassionate read with a bit of a bite? Do you want a raw, gravel, grrrrr-ish read? Be specific, give examples and most often you can get way closer to what you want.
  • DO Try to ask for it a different way, if you asked once (they may not have gotten it, but thought they did… Voice people are not mind readers, just because they can read
  • True story, I had a consultant AND a PD go on and on about how one, very very high profile VO guy was a “one trick pony”, but they were shocked at the reads I got out of him… Shockingly this voice guy, is considered universally  one of the voices with the biggest range, and BEST ACTING of almost any other voice… John Willyard!!!!! So before you pigeon hole voice “X” that way, work with them… you’ll be amazed at what you get!
  • Voice guy/gal X keeps messing up pronunciations/ dates OR Voice guy/gal takes way too long to get me the script!
  • DON’T think they are not BUSY too and/or don’t care. They are and do.
  • DO check what you are giving them.
  • Pronunciations: Give them a GOOD guide, and if it’s real tough, send them an mp3 of it!!!! Here in Detroit for example there is a road called “Gratiot”… How to you think you should say that?!?!?!!! Try before reading on… I’ll wait……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..Answer: “Gra-shit”, yes, honestly! If you’re from Detroit that seems obvious, and it’s hard to think of anyone saying it wrong, which is exactly why you need a guide for the VO, because saying it wrong is not an option on air!
  • Dates/Small boo boos: Most often, on both sides of the fence, mistakes are caused by rushing, rushing is caused by long and/or late scripts (not just yours!). Sending a script with an oops, and/or reading one that way can be avoided by slowing down just a bit and double checking (on both sides), and eliminating clutter that causes confusion. For example a script and email that includes a start date and time, due date and time, and multiple updates on each of multiple scripts that you need “ASAP”, can all lead to OOopses… Plus are you sending it to them at their busiest time? (see below)

They take too long: Are you sending it to them at their busiest time? Just like someone walking in during a request show to talk about a sales pitch, or dropping a new full produce commercial on you at 5pm on Friday and expecting You to stop everything… sometimes we Prod people do that to Voice Over folks without knowing. Give them the benefit of the doubt, you would want it too.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015 00:00

Both Sides of the Fence 1: Dear Voice Artist

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The grass is always greener they say… Over the last year, I’ve had more and more chances to see things from more than one side… 13 plus years with CBS Radio, AND I’m now taking on freelance Voice Over clients (thus the two sides).

I wouldn’t change a moment with CBS, I’ve worked with some of the best Voice Over artists, programmers, and yes some astoundingly suburb Market Managers/GMs and don’t plan on stopping as long as they will have me. And am having a blast being the voice for some amazing stations, big, small, near and far away.

But additionally this have given a new to me view from both sides. So I thought it might be useful to share the view from both sides…

Dear Voice Over dewd and/or doodette:

The Production/Imaging person you’re dealing with is also BUSY. Most often they have a couple of other stations and/or commercials and/or an air shift. Soooo remember:

  • Typos are not because they’re stupid or lazy, 99% just trying to get you the script/details quickly (or worse got them late/too busy and trying to make Your deadline), Sooooooooo…..
  • DON’T make fun of them and SEND IT TO THEM!!!!
  • DON’T think producers cannot hear your eye roll (we can).
  • DON’T think it’s not caring about you or the station
  • Pronunciation… sometimes guides are not included in the script, DOH, Sooooooo…
  • DON’T read it just one way if you think there could be another
  • DON’T get mad if asked to recut that line
  • BUT DO remind your stations that you want to read it right, they want it read right, so include a dang Pronunciation guide
  • Script is the D@mn wrong font / to small / not double spaced…GRRRRR!  Most times, it’s either a habit they had before you got there, the way they were taught, and/or the way “everyone” in the building does it. Soooooo…
  • DO ask stations to provide it the way you want it
  • DO Explain and remind why
  • DON’T think they don’t care, or don’t like you
  • Station XXXX wants sooo much / is so last minute / writes like $%*!
  • DON’T rush through their stuff
  • DON’T get hung up on negative stuff in your head about that station! (it will come out in your reads!)
  • DO try to get to know the station/writer/producer if possible. Even just a little bit of contact, like asking for the produced piece and really listen to how they used your voice, can help you make them happy… and as a bonus, you sound better… for them, and their ratings. Which gives you better Demo content, AND more CLIENTS!
  • DO offer “ALT” takes on their script and writing sugestions… kindly and carefully, OR just deal with it.
  • DON’T ignore copy instructions, just cause you are busy (it will save you time in the long run with recuts or finding new clients cause you read it wrong!!!)