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Late-For-Work Radio

The response to my leaving the employ of Z100 has been a little surprising to me. The sheer volume of nearly universally positive comments has been stunning. I've heard from literally hundreds of people I have come in contact with over 28+ years in New York and even more from people I've never met or even spoken with before. Some in the latter category are people I have known of and respected through their work, but for one reason or another, we had just never met.

One person kind enough to drop a personal note was a guy I've been corresponding with for a few years, John Kayes who is with BBC Radio Scotland. I mention his note here because he said something I think is very profound about the world of image production:

I am often asked – “what is great radio?”. There are now countless genres and formats out there but my answer is simple. It is called “Late For Work Radio”. The kind of radio you can’t leave the kitchen for, that makes you get off two bus stops later or sit in the taxi outside the office as the meter is running, just so you can hear the radio station that has drawn you in. Very very few people in the world can produce content like that and fewer do so on a daily basis.

Think about that for a minute and let it sink in. His compliment to me was that too many people by far, schedule sounds rather than create content. I am thrilled that he puts me in the latter category.

What about you? Do you create content? How long has it been since your own work raised goosebumps on your arms?

When I've put all the finishing touches on a piece and double-checked the gain of every soundfile, I usually run out of the studio and visit the kitchen or bathroom, to mainly give myself some space before I really sit down and listen to the full promo like a listener. Upon my return, I hit play and immediately turn my back on the workstation so I can't see all the files and faders, so I'm hearing it without any mechanical attention. This is how I listen like a listener. It's JUST the sound.

At that point, one of two things happen: 1.) I get the goosebumps and grin like The Joker on speed, or 2.) I sit back down and re-think the whole project. Fortunately, about 75% or the time, it is the former. I pack it up into a single stereo file, load it into the station's playback system and send a copy to my PD. Once he signs off on it (only once has he asked for a change), I run the scheduling software and get it on the air.

Years ago, I ran a production website where I once said that you can't be expected to hit grand slam homeruns every time. That most of the time each piece will be a hit, double or triple. I was wrong. EVERY single piece should be a grand slam. EVERY piece of production needs to raise goosebumps. When you don't get them, it's a sign that you need to re-think everything, make adjustments and turn up the emotional juice.

I know it's a high standard, but "good enough" cannot be an option, not if you want your station to be "Late-For-Work Radio." And shouldn't that be what we all strive for?

In a little more than two weeks, I will be dedicating myself to helping you become the best producer you can be, through this website, new and fresh tutorials (beginning with the basics), a long-promised book in the "how-to" vein, and by making myself even more available for your questions through email. Keep your eyes on this space.

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