Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Land of the "Free"...

Twenty years ago, I was an instructor at a business college in Akron, Ohio. I had graduated from the seminary college a few years earlier and had been teaching at a school in Canton when I was transferred to a school a half-hour north. Teaching was a way to try to utilize my newly-acquired Bachelor of Arts degree; however, I spent most of my time between classes running up towards the receptionist's area to see if any Program Directors had called in regards to the dozens of tapes I had sent to stations all over northeast Ohio. My father, a 30-year industrial arts teacher, told me that it was good that I had other goals, since teaching, in his words, "didn't pay squat". Obviously, he had been mis-informed about the salaries of most radio broadcasters.

During my time there, I was asked by another instructor to assist him in a writing project. He wanted to do some freelance business consulting but needed some assistance in writing a few brochures. Being new to the faculty, I told him that I'd certainly give him a hand and that he didn't need to pay me for it. He looked at me and said, "You're a professional, aren't you?" I sheepishly nodded, "Uh, well, yeah, I guess." He said, "Well, professionals never do anything for free. If they're good at what they do, they deserve to be paid".

I've though of Eric Starbuck's words (no relation to the coffee empire, unfortunately for him) more than a few times in the last couple of weeks. As the economy continues to dissolve and panic continues to follow, more and more companies and stations are tightening their belts, looking for ways to trim the fat and survive the onslaught. One of my client stations even called last week to inform me that they had decided, by February of 2009, to cut all of the "Station Image-Voices" for their four-station cluster and use the money to keep at least one more person in the building employed. I understand that. I also understand a Program Director calling me up and saying, "Matt, we don't have 'imaging' in the budget next year, so send us a final invoice." I don't like it, and I don't particularly agree with it...but I understand it. What I don't understand, however, is asking a professional to offer his or her services for free.

I came across this advertisement on a popular industry website:

Low budget radio station in top 25 market needs an imaging pro who can crank out 10 or 20 sizzlin' promo's and liners per day... Your reward? We'll send you free bumper stickers, coffee mugs and maybe, just maybe... T-Shirts! It'll make that resume look real tight too! That's right! Just send me a demo of your best imaging and we'll put it on the air. Then, you can tell all your friends that you are heard 24/7 in a big market, and not lie!

Wow, just imagine: you text a friend and tell him, "Dude, I'm the new 'voice' of KXXX! Check me out! Their streaming online at..." He texts you back and says, "Dude, that is so cool! That's a Top 25 market. You must be raking in some dough!" And you respond, "Well, no, not really....but you should see my new KXXX coffee mug!"

I concluded that it must have been a prank of some kind that somehow made it on to the company's website. A couple of days later, I spot this:

Smaller market N/T with no money has an opportunity for you to populate your demo tape with a REAL radio station, a station with a day signal heard in both a Top 75 and a Top 180 market. I'll give you the opportunity, won't swamp you with a ton of copy, will produce on this end, and get you the returned product. You'll be produced by a guy who's an experienced imaging hand, so you'll sound great. Again, I'll give you the opportunity, you just provide the voice.

I wrote the author a note and, basically, asked him if he thought imaging was important? Being that his station is a News-Talk station, I'm assuming that, since I voice a number of News-Talk stations, it's a busy one. I'm assuming that news promos with current actualities have to be changed on a fairly regular basis. I'm assuming that promos have to be done to promote upcoming station events, Holiday activities, or even just the weekend's highs school basketball games. Being that it's a "real radio station", I'm also assuming that there are weekend "car talk", "home improvement" and "gardening" shows that occasionally need revamped imaging. If that's the case, I wrote, what is it saying about your organization that you would try to solicit that work from someone...who doesn't want to be paid? Unless it's a really good friend, what kind of quality are you going to receive from somebody who, consistently, doesn't want anything in return?

Sure, I've helped friends of mine in the industry who need a hand. I've voiced something for one of my client PD's who needed a quick imaging piece for one of their other AM's in the cluster. I've helped a buddy of mine with a produced commercial because it's Friday and his Production Director had to take his wife to the hospital. And I think I say this with all humility: my clients know that I give them 110% with some of the fastest turn-a-round times in the industry. Yet, I don't think I have one client who would ask me to be the "Voice" of their station or their off-site Production Director...gratis! I wouldn't ask them to do their jobs for free. Why ask that of me?
Of course, I also offered this gentleman an attractive offer to be his News-Talk station's "Image-Voice". I also offered my copywriting and production services at, what I considered, a reasonable rate. I did not receive a response.

Then, I get an email from my good friend Chuck "Big Voice" Matthews who titles his email "What is going on with all the free stuff lately???" He forwards this:

VO Needed for a country format! Today's Smokin' Hot Country and we need a Smokin' Hot Voice talent! Prefer barter deals or talents that are willing to VO on the cheap! If you believe that's you, send a demo to us (both male and female talents encouraged) Rookies welcome!!

I think the branding of a station is vitally important. I think the "sound" of the production is critical. As Chuck once said to me, "If you're not spending some money on the sound between the records or between the talk segments, well then what are you spending it on?" Obviously, that's a bit simplistic. The bottom-line is the bottom-line. Budgets have to be met. But I believe he's right: the "sound" of the station from a Production and Imaging standpoint is just as crucial as hiring the right morning show or the right Talk Host. From the Top-of-the-Hour ID to which music is chosen for the florist who only runs her commercials during the "Garden Talk" show on Sunday, the "sound" IS the radio station.

So, let's make a deal, ok? You are a professional, right? Good. Me, too. Let's not ask each other to do anything for free. It depreciates what we've chosen to do with our lives. Times are tough for all of us, but the "sound" of the station should matter. Find something in the budget for the professional to do it. The reward will come back at you through the speakers....and through satisfied customers and loyal listeners.

Oh, I can't forget about the one I came across just yesterday:

Telephone On-Hold and In-Store messaging company is looking to add a freelance voice...
WE: pay you $2 per script minute with company check for monthly assignments. Please don’t try to start a negotiation. This is what we pay and that’s it.

TWO DOLLARS PER SCRIPT MINUTE? Oh, well....at least he's paying something, I guess!

-30-

* Why not grab your favorite beverage, cop a squat, and groove to some DEMOS at www.mattmultimedia.com

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

So long, Piper Court!

I think I have a pretty good handle on radio's "vagabond lifestyle". I've forced my wife to move more times than she's probably ever wanted to, and suprisingly our relationship is still intact! Throughout all of these various moves to DC, Knoxville, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and so on, my mother was always amazed that I, and folks like me, could just throw all my belongings in a Ryder truck and hit the highway.

Last week she did it herself. After 33 years, my parents finally exited Piper Court in Canton, Ohio for a small, 2-bedroom apartment on the other side of town. And this time, I'm the one who's amazed.

As children, we grew up in two houses: a two-story with a glassed-in front porch on 14th street and, two houses down, a big white colonial at 1414 Piper Court. I can still remember, during freshman year of high school, carrying boxes down the street. It was one way to save on a moving truck! Although I was raised on 14th Street, the home on Piper Court will be the one I'll always remember.

I come from a big family...three brothers and three sisters, with one brother being my twin. (Yes, there are two of us. Fortunately for Mark, we're "fraternal twins".) So, as the years passed and various brothers and sisters grew up, married, and had children, the Christmas Eve celebrations and other events became, understandably, quite crowded. Also during those years, the neighborhood itself became quite neglected. Many of the neighborhood's grand old middle-class homes with well-manicured lawns and cared-for property had become, essentially, run-down rental units. There were even instances where people would knock on my parents' front door at 11 o'clock at night asking for money and such...and my father would answer the door! What once served as a safe place to sit outside on the front porch on a hot, summer evening was now just a target for crime and vandalism.

They'd had it on the market for about 9 months when another landlord interesting in renting out yet another home on Piper Court made them an offer. In the throes of today's dismal economy, they had no other choice but to take it. I wasn't able to be there for "The Move". Through phone calls and text messages, I tried to follow the saga of my mother trying to decide what items to keep, throw out, or give away. It's hard enough for me to do it every couple years. I can't even imagine what was going through her mind.

Now, they spend their time organizing their new apartment and trying to get used to a completely new environment and lifestyle. I assume that they're probably shell-shocked over the fact that they don't have to listen to gunshots, dozens of barking dogs left out all night, vagrants ringing their doorbell at midnight, the house on one side playing Snoop Dog till 3 in the morning, and the guy in the other house outside during the day chipping golf balls with a 9-iron into the side of his own house.

I'll miss that house. More importantly, I'll miss my home. My brother and I shared an attic bedroom, until he went off to school. I spent hours in that room with headphones on air-drumming with Neil Peart on A Farewell to Kings, matching Jimmy Page lick-for-lick on Houses of the Holy, and providing backing vocals for Bruce on Darkness on the Edge of Town. It's also the home where Mark and I, on more-than-a-few-occasions, staggered in at some ungodly hour, only to find my mother still up, waiting for us so that she could give "the lecture", while we stood there, struggling to keep our eyes open and our feet on the ground. It's the home where our grandmother stayed with us throughout the winters until she passed away, and where brothers and sisters brought home their boyfriends and girlfriends, a few of which are still their husbands and their wives. It's the home where I told my mother I was going to the seminary to be a priest, and the home where I told her after graduating that I had decided not to be a priest.

I'm happy for them, though. I certainly was one of the children who urged them to try to sell the home and move out of the area. But it was definitely odd to walk into an unknown apartment lobby, look up, and see my parents peeking their heads outside of an strange new home. It was even more surreal to see their easily recognizable belongings now adorning the rooms of a new place on the other side of town. It might as well have been the other side of the world. But, as I look around at the well-manicured lawns and the ample walking areas, I feel pretty good that they've made the right decision.

But I'll miss that old white colonial on Piper Court, a mere ten blocks from the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Excuse me while I put on "D'yer Mak'er" and go pound-for-pound with Bonzo. Just like old times.

-30-

* Why not grab your favorite beverage, cop a squat, and groove to some DEMOS at www.mattmultimedia.com

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Call Those Hogs!

A couple of weeks ago, Mrs. Anthony and I took our small pop-up camper ( I'm still trying to get used to the whole "towing" thing) and traversed the state of Missouri, entered "The Natural State", and landed in a small KOA campground just outside of Eureka Springs, Arkansas. (I'm also trying to get used to the whole "camping" thing, too!) This was our first journey to Razorback country, as well as being another chapter in the continuing saga of Matt's attempt to visit every stadium in the Southeastern Conference.

"Why?" you ask. Well, because I love college football. And while baseball will always be my favorite sport, there's nothing quite like the tremor of excitement that exudes amidst parking lot after parking lot of tailgaters on a football Saturday.

I'm pretty lucky, in that my wife is a sports fan. (she's a huge baseball fan, which explains her eagerness to marry me....on a baseball diamond!) But as far as college football goes, she's more of a "camping" fan (hence, the pop-up trailer) so she indulges my lust of SEC football so that we can sit around a campfire at night in 40 degree weather wearing 9 sweatshirts each and munching on char-broiled hot dogs and Tostitos. Our proximity to SEC football, based on our St. Louis locale, makes driving to most stadiums a fairly lengthy journey, so Fayetteville was the closest spot of all the schools that we had not yet visited. So far, we've been to Knoxville to see the Vols, Nashville to see Vandy, Tuscaloosa to see 'Bama, and now Fayetteville to see the Razorbacks.

Yes, I know college football is a big business. Yes, I know that most of these "scholar-athletes" are alot more "athlete" than they are "scholar". And, yes, I know that many of the players who show up on the radar of ESPN's College Gameday will probably not finish all four years at their respective schools. It's the way it is. But the pageantry and tradition that surrounds the college football experience can truly not be duplicated. (And pardon my saying so, but the NFL doesn't even come close, so don't even try.)

The weather on game day: strikingly gorgeous. (As were the women in the two groups partying next to us prior to kick-off. Don't tell my better-half, but is there a mutant gene that all of a sudden makes itself known within the female gender somewhere south of I-64? Some Ph.D. candidate simply must devote his or her dissertation to this subject!) On the other side of us was a family of fairly elderly, quiet Razorback faithful who simply nodded to us and continued to enjoy the day....until one of their cell phones rang and the noticeably-oldest of the group shouted, "Hey, ya'all, Florida is kicking the s%*t out of Kentucky 63-3!"

Gotta love the SEC.

We also managed to score some free food, especially some ribs that a gentleman, wearing jean bib-overalls with the Arkansas logo plastered on them, started cooking at 5 a.m. that morning. (they were good...but the ones we had at the Alabama game were better!) We also tried to hook up with the brother of a former client and friend of mine...a Razorback season-ticket holder...but we never made it to his shrimp-boil. (damn!)

Our seats? Not great. But, it doesn't matter. I like the fact that most people are in their seats 45 minutes before kickoff. (Here at Rams games, people don't even make it to their seats until 5 or 6 minutes into the first quarter....if they hadn't already sold their tickets to Packers fans, that is.) It's a good thing we made it to our seats early, because it gave us an opportunity to learn how to properly "Call the Hogs". Now, as it was explained to us by some folks sitting next to us, "calling the Hogs" takes timing, dexterity...and a few Miller Lite's. (although a Miller Lite wouldn't get within 3 counties of these lips) Anyway...the act of raising the hands above the head, with the fingers twirling, AND while chanting "W000000000", legitimately, should not take more than 8 seconds. Then, both arms are thrust downwards while screaming "Pig", and very quickly, the right arm gets thrown upwards with a fist, exclaiming, "Sooie"! This is repeated twice more, with the only difference being at the end of the third call, where everyone ends with a resounding, "Razorbacks!". Now, to see some petite co-ed standing next to some grizzled ex-veteran standing next to a seemingly docile college professor-type, all standing next to some couple from St. Louis on their maiden voyage to Fayetteville, and all screaming "Wooo-Pig-Sooie"....well, that's not gonna happen at a Jets game, or a Chiefs game, or a Browns game, for that matter. And if "Calling the Hogs" doesn't do it for you, head to Annapolis for a Navy game and watch the Midshipmen march in, or stay in your seat at halftime for a Buckeyes game in Columbus and watch the band peel off a "Script-Ohio", or show up at Neyland Stadium before a game and immerse yourself in the sea of orange that makes up the "Vol Walk", or any of the hundreds of other solemn college football traditions and you'll see why the NFL doesn't even come close to touching it, on any level.

The final? Ole Miss (and Houston Nutt's return to Fayetteville) eeked out a win, even though the Razorbacks led a charge all the way to the end.

As we ended up back at the fire in front of our little camper 40 miles away in Eureka Springs, I silently plotted our next trip. My wife, wrapped in her newly-purchased tie-dye hoodie with the Hog logo in the middle (I'm certain she was the only person amongst the 70,000-plus crowd who wore one), handed me my hot dog and asked, "Well, where to next year?" I thought for a moment, enjoyed another warming swig from my Avery Maharaja Imperial India Pale Ale, and said, "Start stocking up on the toilet paper, hon. I'm feeling a little trip to Auburn and Toomer's Corner.

War Eagle!

-30-

* Why not grab your favorite beverage, cop a squat, and groove to some DEMOS at www.mattmultimedia.com

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Road More-Traveled...

The basement level of the domicile here that houses "Matt Anthony World Headquarters" has pretty much anything a guy could want. The largest part of the room contains a large-screen HDTV, a few chairs, a ping-pong table, and a bar. The smaller part has all of the guts, including water heater, furnace, and an older washer and dryer. It also contains an extra stove and two extra refrigerators. (what do you imagine resides in those units?) Speaking of beer, this part of the room, in addition, has a great "storage shelf", dark and temperature-consistent, perfect for conditioning the German Altbier that I brewed 2 weeks ago. The smallest part of the lower level contains the studio.

I think it was my wife's master plan to send me, permanently, to the basement. Little did she realize that the environment deep in the catacombs here is probably as nice as most middle-class apartments. And for that, I feel pretty fortunate. But during the day, I'm fairly confined to this 6-and-a-half by 8-and-a-half-foot space I call a "studio". I have a window that allows me to gaze, reflect, and occasionally yell at the deer who simply will not stop chomping flora on which they're not supposed to be chomping! But amongst the "reflecting" during down-time, I've come to the realization that Radio's "new world order"...can be fairly lonely.

2006 was a pivotal year for us. After cruising along in a good position in a major market with a handful of freelance-client stations, I, like many, found myself on the short-end of the "job elimination" game. In over 20 years in broadcasting, this had never happened to me before. It was an adjustment, to say the least. Being that I am skilled in exactly nothing else, I was forced to do what virtually every Production and Imaging guy dreams of: go out on my own. Don't get me wrong; I love what I do. And I'd like to continue doing it for a long time. However, the reality of instantly deciding to be an entrepreneur is an exciting, eye-opening, panic-inducing feeling.

But, compared to walking into a building every day and fraternizing with other like-minded folks, it can also be relatively lonely. Yes, I can go to the gym during lunchtime. I can take Maggie for a walk whenever I like. I can go grocery-shopping for voluminous amounts of toilet paper at Sam's Club in the middle of the afternoon. And although I think I'm a bit of a loner by nature...and probably do my best work without the need for massive amounts of brainstorming with six other people in a conference room...I do miss, well, people.

I have not completely given up on the prospects of one day joining a station, or group of stations, and contributing, either On-Air or in the Production studio. (of course, I would have to have a terribly understanding Program Director who wouldn't mind me stopping occasionally to record the sponsors for the "Game Open" of Texas Tech football, or one of the other AM sports/flagship stations with whom I have the luxury of working. I DO love those assertive Sports-Talkers!) But as cutbacks and downsizing continues, the opportunities at stations are becoming less and less available. I'm sure I'm not relaying news that isn't already known. However, even after being in radio for 20 years, I continue to be amazed at how the landscape, on so many diferent levels, has changed. Many industry contacts, and even former employers and associates, who were once consistent and dependable job contacts, are no longer available. There just simply aren't a whole lot of opportunities or prospects out there, even for an experienced, somewhat-solitary guy like myself.

I advertise and subscribe to Small Market Radio Newsletter, and the last issue included an article from a GM who wrote about the need to have exciting, invigorating, or as he put it, compelling, programming. (I do wish a committee would get together and unanimously agree to ban this word from the radio lexicon.) At any rate, this gentleman waxed philosophically about competent, fully-functioning stations needing to train their salespeople properly, keep their websites up-to-date, maximize revenues, utilize techniques to add to the bottom line...and, oh yeah, make sure we're providing compelling programming content. So I called this GM and introduced myself. I told him that I read his article and wanted to inquire about his need for compelling programming content. He said he was already utilizing lots of syndicated programming. I asked him why he didn't utilize and local talent and, of course, he responded that there wasn't any "budget" for local talent. I then asked him what he had been doing for his station imaging and he replied, "What's station imaging?" After I explained the use of a "station image-voice" and "branding" and such, he again responded, "Oh, no, we wouldn't have any money for that."

So, I thought to myself, hmmm...you have no budget to hire any local personnel, including a grizzled veteran like myself, You have no budget to place towards imaging or creative production. And, yet, you're writing articles imploring other GM's to make sure that they utilize compelling programming. Interesting.

So, as I sit here deep in the bowels of my basement lair, I try to be appreciative and grateful. There continues to be more and more Production/Imaging folks who are forced on to the same path that I took in '06. But, in the throes of downsizing, cutbacks, non-existent budgets, and a bit of lonely nostalgia for days gone by, I'm thankful for the opportunities I've had with my clients and appreciative that I have something to fall back on. Who knows...someday I may hook up with a forward-thinking group who just happens to have a cool AAA station that needs an affable host, who also happens to work for a boss who doesn't mind him stopping occasionally to record a weekend AC/DC concert ticket giveaway promo.

Until then, Sam's Club beckons. We're a little low on paper towels!

-30-

* Why not grab your favorite beverage, cop a squat, and groove to some DEMOS at www.mattmultimedia.com

Friday, October 3, 2008

4 Seconds with Tiger!

I was driving home last week from a session at Technisonic, a beautiful post-production studio just west of downtown St. Louis. To be honest, I was exhausted. I had spent almost an hour-and-a half there after being hired through my agent to do a spot for TLC Laser Eye Centers. I (and my agent) thought it was a booking for a whole spot; it was not. When I arrived at the studio, there were already two people present from the company, two from the ad agency handling the account, and two people recording and directing the session. Up on this huge HD screen...was Tiger Woods. After 25 seconds of Tiger praising TLC for helping him win the Masters, and the U.S. Open, and the Colonial, and the NEC World Golf Championship, and the 3 million other tournaments he dominated last year, I was to say, "Call today for your free TLC Lasik consultation." Simple enough, right?

Uh, no. I stopped counting after reading it for the 35th time. The word "today" should be "TOO'day" and not "TUH' day". Make sure "Lasik" is pronounced with an "s" and not a "z". Pause after "today" and "for". End on an "up-note" and not a "down-note". And then there was the word "consultation". For some reason, I simply could not nail the right inflection of this word. Jeff, the very amiable and well-spoken "director" of this session kept coming in to say, "Matt, we're almost there. Give me 5 or 6 more 'takes' and we'll pop it up next to Tiger to see how it fits." Well, after more than 45 minutes, I was getting a bit agitated. Even with a pristine Neumann U87 staring me in the face, I began to lose focus on....what exactly should be focused on. Maybe I needed a Lasik procedure done on my medulla....or my larynx. Something wasn't right. But, finally, somewhere between 'take 23' of "Call today for..." and 'take 12' of "consultation", we arrived at a finished product.

But driving home, I sensed that the client wasn't happy. Hell, I wasn't happy. I didn't like the sound of the finished product. Perhaps they were tired of me reading the same :04 line repeatedly and thought to themselves, "Screw it. I have Cardinals tickets for tonight and it's almost 4:30, so let's pick one and wrap it up." Whatever the case, I was pretty drained. I've read and performed hundreds of commercials and promos, but I've never been so wasted over :04 of copy in my life. Needless to say, when I arrived home, the Raison D'Etre from Dogfish Head was, indeed, blessed relief.

As I sipped this glorious mahogany concoction (yes, it's brewed with beet sugar and green raisins!) I gave some thought to the "keeping it simple" rule...and how far we've strayed from it. I'm as guilty as the next person, of course. Here in voiceover-land, it's not uncommon for us guys and gals to traverse the galaxies in search of the secret "chain", that Holy-Grail-of-microphone-preamp-compressor-limiter satori that will make itself known so as to bring us to vocalic enlightenment. "Gosh", we mutter to ourselves, "if only I could pair up this Focusrite box with this hand-built German tube microphone. Then, I'd be rockin!" Seven or eight-thousand dollars later, we're ususally off on yet another search. It's never-ending. In reality, we should just "be who we are", I suppose. Brian Cooney, who I hear all over HGTV and ESPN and a half-dozen other cable channels, said in an email recently that he simply stopped looking for the perfect chain. He said, "This is me. This is my voice. I perform with it. I'm tired of looking for the perfect microphone and the perfect preamp. I quit trusting gear and started trusting ME."

I like that. I like that alot. I wish that after 'take 43' of the TLC session that I would have had the testicular fortitude to say "Folks, that's it. You have the best I can give you. Use one of those cuts 'cause I , too, have Cards tickets tonight. Nice meeting you. So long." But, I guess it's not in my temperment to go that route. However, it doesn't mean that things have to get so complicated. Better put, I don't have to make things so complicated. Brian is right; sooner or later, you have to trust yourself and just "go with it".

I can't even begin to fathom what must go through the head of Tiger Woods before teeing off. Perhaps I'm surmising that a whole trigonometric equation presents itself to him prior to impact, which then results in a massive 340-yard drive down the middle of the fairway. Or, maybe he just says, "hit the ball". Or maybe he doesn't say anything at all and, like Brian, "just goes with it".

Until I can be "awakened", I'll pop the top on another Raison, soothe my frazzled nerves, and continue to search eBay. Rumor has it there's a Soundelux U99 with only 6 hours left for bidding. Not that I have any money, or anything. Heck, a :04 tag doesn't pay that much.

-30-

* Why not grab your favorite beverage, cop a squat, and groove to some DEMOS at www.mattmultimedia.com

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Choose Your Teams Wisely!

As I fawned over a bottle of Sierra Nevada's Southern Hemisphere Harvest Hop Ale while on the deck last evening, I thought about the life-decisions that confront us, the choices we make, and the ramifications that impact our future. Was it the impending election that took up so much of my cerebral activity? The latest banking crisis? The political unrest in Pakistan? Hardly. The subject that occupied my mental meanderings can be summed up in one word: Cleveland.

I have a friend in Nashville who grew up in the Music City while the Titans were still running amok inside the Astrodome as the Oilers. The nearest professional baseball team was 4 hours away. The NBA? Even further. So, growing up, he elected to choose his favorite teams without being locked into geographical boundaries. Of course, not being hog-tied by "proximity" leaves the door open to all sorts of possibilities. Let's see....his favorite football team: the Cowboys. Gee, have they even been in the same county as the Lombardi Trophy? Now, over to basketball. Why, wouldn't you know it: the Los Angeles Lakers! Gosh, they've never even smelled an NBA Final, have they? And baseball? The lowly Los Angeles Dodgers. Koufax, Drysdale, Garvey, and Kirk Gibson...what a pathetic bunch of losers. Well, at least he can't pick Notre Dame, since he's a University of Tennessee grad.

I, on the other hand, grew up in Canton, Ohio. In my neighborhood, there was only one city's teams that we cared about. That also meant that our allegiance was, and is, defined not by Super Bowl rings and NBA Championship banners but by gut-wrenching phrases such as "The Shot" (Michael Jordan's last-second shot over the outstretched arms of Craig Ehlo), "The Drive" (John Elway thrusting his sword in the abdomen of Browns fans in the waning seconds of the '87 AFC Championship game), "The Fumble" (Ernest Byner drops the ball on the 2-yard-line en route to the end zone in the '88 AFC title game at Mile High) "The Hit" (Edgar Renteria's bases-loaded single to drive in the winning run for the Marlins in Game 7 of the '97 World Series), "The Sweep" (the Cavs pathetic performance in the 2007 NBA Finals against the Spurs)....and on, and on, and on, and on, and on........

In much the same way that this wonderful beer's bitterness is tempered by a more-than-generous helping of Centennial and Cascade hops, my bitterness is always lessened by....hope. For those of us who haven't chosen their teams wisely, it's really the only thing on which we can lean. The hope that Romeo Crennel will find ways to get the Browns to an even better record than last year's 10-6 mark. The hope that Jamal Lewis will have another 1000+yards rushing season, the hope that players such as Kellen Winslow and Joshua Cribbs will stay healthy, and the hope that somebody will come up with a few spare tickets in the Dawg Pound so that I have don't have to pay for them. (those 9-dollar beers at Browns Stadium take their toll on the wallet).

Then, something always comes along to ruin all that good "hope". It's a feeling, a force...almost a kind of virus, that, even amidst the strongest sense of good expectations, always manages to, seemingly effortlessly, thwart even the most ardent strides towards turning the tide on this litany of bad karma. Interesting enough, I can also sum that up in one word: Pittsburgh.

There are many things that I, more than likely, will not see in my lifetime. I will not see a winning lottery ticket with my numbers on it. I will not see a deed to a summer home that I own on Maui. I will not see Angelina Jolie beckoning me to accompany her on an evening of frivolity. And I really don't think I'll see a time when the Cleveland Browns will beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. And as our Pittsburgh friends wasted no time in contacting us after the Steelers beat the Browns for the 10th time in a row (you know it's pathetic when they're sending us text messages with the words "I'm sorry"!) I decided that maybe....just maybe....I didn't do the best job in choosing my teams.

But, what's done is done. So, I popped the top on another Sierra Nevada and wondered how different things might have been had my father chosen a teaching job in....Rapid City, South Dakota. Than I could have chosen any number of teams: Yankees, Celtics, Red Wings....

....or maybe the Steelers.

-30-

* Why not grab your favorite beverage, cop a squat, and groove to some DEMOS at www.mattmultimedia.com

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

"In a world...."

Years ago, a friend and I attended one of our first classical music concerts. I know very little about classical music. I mean, I know enough to be able to recognize the opening strains of a Mozart concerto or a Beethoven symphony, but I'm fairly ignorant of the history of music, the nuances of composition and theory, etc. (Now if we're talking about the collected works of AC/DC, yeah....sure.) However, a friend of ours gave us tickets to a performance, and I NEVER turn down free tickets. He informed us that the guest violin soloist would be "playing in the style and technique of the great Daniel Haifetz". Well, during the concert, he merely sounded to me like...a violinist. I didn't hear any missed notes and the crowd responded approvingly after each selection, so I figured, you know, cool! I just witnessed somebody "playing in the style and technique of the great Daniel Haifetz". Whomever that was.

We met up afterwards and I said, "Well, how did this guy and Daniel Haifetz stack up?" He took a long drag from his cigarette, exhaled slowly, and said,"This guy had boxing gloves on his hands compared to Daniel Haifetz".

Whoa.

I would say that would pretty much sum up the conversation if I were being compared to the great Don LaFontaine. Those of us in the voiceover world knew that Don was pretty ill, but he had been making some strides in recovery. That's why it was pretty shocking to hear the news today that Don had passed away.

I've wanted to be behind a microphone for as long as I can remember. But it was only after I had begun working at my first radio station that I became enamored of the "station voice". Their voices seemed other-worldly to me. I knew that my voice didn't sound anything like them but I tried, even early on, to emulate their rhythm and cadence. I would sneak into the production studio between long songs at WDJQ in Alliance, Ohio, grab some carts filled with lazer blasts, turn on the microphone and the Otari reel-to-reel, and pretend that I was the "Mr. Big Voice"....Joe Kelly, Mitch Craig, J.R. Nelson, Charlie Van Dyke, or Ernie Anderson.

But there was only one Don LaFontaine. (Or as my sister likes to say, "that movie voice guy".) Log on to any voiceover website and listen to any "Trailer" demo, and almost all of them are trying, in some way, shape, or form, to "be like Don". And if we can't be like Don, we're quizzing each other on what equipment and processing he used so that we can "sound like Don". But we all know that no Manley Gold Reference microphone or Tube Tech CL1b or Urei 1176 is going to truly make us "Don". It was his sense of drama...his sense of urgency...his ability to nail a phrase EXACTLY as it should be nailed...and, later, his ability to poke fun at himself....that really differentiated him from most of the voiceover field. He was an icon.

So, I sit here perusing my demos, changing bits here and there, and trying to size up how to attract more folks to the MAV family of clients. And, I listen to my "Trailer" demo and I laugh...at myself. Me? Don LaFontaine? Please. There might as well be boxing gloves tied around my vocal cords.

Rest in peace, Don.

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* Why not grab your favorite beverage, cop a squat, and groove to some DEMOS at www.mattmultimedia.com

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Watch your backside, Amadeus!

Several months ago, I came across an advertisement in the paper here that was placed by one of the local music stores. It was titled "Adult Piano Lessons" and the store offered group lessons to adults who have never played before. Well, I had played before....although it was "Chopsticks" and I'm fairly certain that it doesn't qualify. So, with a bit of hesitation, I signed up.

Recently hitting the age-group that, coincidentally, also mirrors Travis Hafner's number, I've been dancing between those areas known as "this is the way I've always done it and it feels just fine" and "why don't you put down your AARP card and try something new". I'm a huge fan of "comfort zones". And from a psychological perspective, that worries me. I sit in the same chair every evening. I utilize the same pint glasses for whatever libation is enjoyed while sitting in that same chair. And on and on it goes. Oh, I break the routine occasionally. I sometimes go out on the deck and sit in the same chair. But, for the most part, I find myself becoming a creature of habit more and more as the years go by. Is that a bad thing?

So, I thought to myself, "Self, if you start wearing hush puppies and lining up at the Golden Corral buffet at 4:30 p.m. for dinner, then you DO have some issues." Panic set in. So I set out to Lacefield Music.

I've strummed a few chords on the guitar before, and I've always felt somewhat "musically inclined". (Plus, I've nuked the competition in every air-guitar war I've ever been in!) But, I was still a bit jittery when I first walked in. There was me...and a few others within my age-bracket...and a few who looked like they just arrived from the Golden Corral buffet line. However, we were all in the same boat, and that felt good. Andy and Matt, our young, talented instructors reminded us that we're not here in order to eventually apply to Julliard or to be able to play Carnegie Hall...but simply to learn enough to be able to play some songs. (Hell, I'd just like to play "When the Saints Go Marching In"...or that cool piano part in "Layla"...whichever comes first.)

So, between learning how to roll some chords, reading a few notes, and finding out what those darned foot-pedals are for, (I thought they were just decor) Mr. Comfort-Zone has actually "graduated" (yes, we actually had certificates, caps, and gowns) from a 6-week Level 1 and Level 2 class and is getting ready to matriculate to Level 3! I've already had my first concerto program printed, so I thought I'd share the evening's selections:

* "When The Saints Go Marching In" (of course...)
* "Love Me Tender" (if I can do that damned G7 chord!)
* "Danny Boy (wouldn't you know it...a C7 shows up at the end!)
* "Theme from Chariots of Fire" (well, it kinda sounds like it....)
* "Etude in E Flat Minor, Opus 90" (ok, I made that up, but if you just play a C, G, or F with the left hand, and then accompany those with the right hand striking any white key, you can come up with some interesting little discoveries!)

So, as I sit in my favorite chair with my favorite Great Lakes Brewing Company pint-glass (filled with Eliot Ness Vienna-Style Lager, of course) I do feel a sense of accomplishment that I managed to escape the tranquility of the mundane to experience something new, and come out on the other side relatively unscathed. Now, if I could just get the folks at Lacefield to ease up on trying to sell me that $3000.00 Roland digital piano.

Oh, look...they're offering motorcycle riding lessons next month!

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* Why not grab your favorite beverage, cop a squat, and groove to some DEMOS at www.mattmultimedia.com

Friday, July 25, 2008

Nothing Like a 6 oz. Can of Tuna!

If you don't hear from me during the first part of August, I'll more than likely be suffocating on the stagnant Beijing air with the rest of the Olympians. Oh....you didn't hear? They've managed to create another experimental sport for this year's Games: tuna can lifting. It's huge! It was originally designed by an orthopedic doctor who specializes in shoulder surgery. He prescribed it as an exercise for rehabilitating post-rotator-cuff patients, and it just....caught on! You basically stand upright, holding the can gently in the palm of your hand, with the thumb slightly raised. Then, you methodically raise your arm in front of you, reaching to ear-level, hold the pose momentarily, and then lower your arm to your side. You then repeat this procedure 29 more times, twice-daily. And if you do happen to forget to TiVo this event next month, you'll still be able to catch a few snippets during SportCenter's "Top 10 Plays", I'm sure.

Can you tell that re-hab is getting a bit...monotonous...for me?

It's been a fairly busy time here at MMM World Headquarters. We re-configured some things here at the home studio, which is to say we pulled plugs from the wall and from the back of components and are now struggling to remember how to hook them back up again. We also had some new windows installed, including one here in the comfy confines of the studio. Hopefully, it will keep out unwanted noises like train whistles, angry bird-chirping, Kevin's obnoxiously loud lawn mower two houses down, and my wife's weed-wacker. (It's called "Mantis", and weeds merely shrivel at the site of it. Sennheiser 416 microphones don't enjoy it, either. Hence, the windows.)

This is a pivotal time of the year, and it generally both frightens me and causes excitement. Spring Arbitron numbers are starting to come out and those results generally result in radio stations doing a little "re-configuring", as well. We try to utilize this part of the Summer with marketing. We try two big projects a year in order to introduce our services to prospective new clients. We're really focusing on Country stations this Summer. I haven't had the opportunity to work with many Country stations, so we just completed a big postcard-mailing. Hopefully, it will lead folks to the Country demo on the site...which will hopefully lead to more folks joining the MMM "family". The flip-side is, of course, is that we hope current "family members" elect to "stay at home" and not venture too far from the "neighborhood". :)

Speaking of happy family members..."congratulations" to Tim Sheehan and the hearty rockers at WRKI-FM in Danbury, Connecticut. They had a spectacular Book! (in fact, my mouth is a bit sore this morning after saying the words "number one" so many times in this weekend's promo copy. It's a "good hurt", though!)

And, speaking of "hurt"...while we're waiting for the stork to bring new kin, I continue to work that can of tuna so that Dr. Weimer will be pleased with my progress during our next appointment. Perhaps I can hit the driving range soon! (or...a large can of green beans. Whatever.)

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* Why not grab your favorite beverage, cop a squat, and groove to some DEMOS at www.mattmultimedia.com

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A "David" amongst the "Goliaths"

I feel like I've been on the 30-day DL!

It's been several weeks since I've posted more random thoughts and I can definitely blame it on my newly-reconstructed rotator cuff. (Hey, it hurt to type, ok?) But, now that I've entered a new and decidedly more adventurous level of rehabilitation, I can hunt-and-peck with much more dexterity. So. I'm back...with a vengeance.

People who aren't in the radio profession (and even a few who are) sometimes ask me, "Why do you move around so much?" And I generally reply (after I make a rather lackluster joke about owning stock in Penske), "I'm not sure. I guess it's the money."

When I jumped on-board the thrill-ride known as "radio", striving towards getting to a bigger market was high on the priority list. Unless you were either dead-set against moving anywhere, or you had already secured a good gig at your hometown station, getting to a larger market was a necessity. A badge of honor. "Bigger" meant "better". Anyone who secured a position with a new station out-of-town often prompted the question,. "What market size is it"? Heck, professional market-jumpers like me already had all the market-sizes memorized. I knew what number sat next to Denver, Portland, or Chattanooga, Tennessee. Are you kidding?

The rude awakening that led to me gaining a better understanding of the illusion that is "market-size" occurred when I left overnights at WONE in Akron, Ohio to do PM Drive in Washington, DC. I did very little research. All I know is that some program director with a cool Australian accent was hiring ME to do Afternoon Drive in market number seven. SEVEN!! I was "Top-Ten-Bound-Matty", so my wife and I put our house up for sale in the Rubber Capital of the World and set-sail for the Nation's Capital.

We lasted 4 months.

"Research" would have told me that the normal cost of a 2-bedroom apartment was $1000.00-a-month. (BIG money for 1993) You're saying, "Hey, a grand-a-month in DC is not bad." No, it's not. But we were living in Manassas, Virgina. "Research" would have also told me that the commute time in Beltway traffic from Manassas to Rockville, Maryland is, oh, about, 3 weeks! And "research" would have revealed that not every on-air personality in Washington is making the kind of money that Jack Diamond makes. So, to avoid starvation, I marched into Craig Ashwood's office (that guy with the Aussie accent, one of the best on-air mentors I've ever had) and announced, with tail-between-legs, that I was scurrying back to the Buckeye state. You can imagine the laugh that our neighbors in Akron enjoyed.

I've learned alot since then. I've also made several more moves since my maiden voyage into Top-10-Land, including another stay in DC. Each of those moves has taught me one important lesson: there's good and bad radio EVERYWHERE. "Bigger" doesn't always mean "better". Look at Norfolk, Nebraska.

Yep, I had to look on a map, too. And as the "station voice", I had to get coached on how to properly pronounce the name of their city. (different than the other city in Virginia) But this station, KNEN-FM, has, as my sister likes to say, "got it goin on"! OM Brian Masters and PD Mookie write some of the most clever copy I've ever had the pleasure of reading. I also love hearing the produced elements that they occasionally send to me. Sure, they're involved in a good deal of charity events and sponsored shows, and some of the references to the agricultural activity in the area were new to me. But I'm all about their wall-to-wall coverage of Big Red football! Call me crazy, you fellow market-jumpers, but I'd put this station up against any station.

Yep, the landscape, for a multitude of reasons, has changed dramatically. But it's really refreshing to see some of the small guys succeed amongst the bigger players in larger markets. Of course, as a weary radio traveler, I'm open to being involved with any size market, now that I'm an entrepreneur. But it sure is to fun to perform fun copy!

It feels even better, too, when one's shoulder doesn't elicit loud screams of agony. It makes my dog happy, too, I can tell you that.

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* Why not grab your favorite beverage, cop a squat, and groove to some DEMOS at www.mattmultimedia.com

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Zen and the Art of Appreciating What You Have

Way, way back in another lifetime, when I took a side road off the main "radio interstate" and veered briefly towards study for Roman Catholic priesthood, we immersed ourselves in the study of philosophy. I'm still not exactly sure why it was so important for us to learn Plato's Theory of the Forms or the seemingly incomprehensible writings of Kant, but it made up a major part of our curriculum. The movement, though, that always intrigued me was that of the Existentialists. (even if Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre and the rest of their pals were not exactly folks you'd share a "Bloomin Onion" with at Outback Steakhouse.) But this angst...this overall feeling of "dread"... seemed like a concept that I could sink my teeth into. And that frightened me, based on the fact that my eventual goal was to be, you know, pretty much the opposite of angst. It's probably why I didn't get ordained. That, and this inescapable feeling that I couldn't do without women. For some reason my bishop had a big problem with that.

I've been feeling angst lately, and I'm not sure why, really. There's no logical reason. I have a wife who, for some unexplained reason, loves me. I'm able to pay my mortgage and have a few shillings left over for an agreeable pint of quality ale, so I suppose I have what some would call a successful business. And, except for a recovering rotator cuff, a few minor ailments, and the ever-present battle with cellulite, I'm in relatively decent health. However, I've been "down in the dumps", and the reason escapes me. I started to think about those Existentialists, and I almost picked up my copy of The Stranger and started to thumb through it, just for old time's sake. And then the floods hit.

My client station in Cedar Rapids, the venerable KRNA, as well as the rest of the Cumulus stations in their building, was forced to vacate their downtown premises because of the recent Iowa flooding. After trying to call for a couple days, I finally received a brief note from Shark, the PD, saying that they had to evacuate and that they were off the air. I've been following the news reports like many and I was awestruck by a photo of not one but several houses which had been ripped from their foundations. They were butted-up against each other, immobile against a bridge, sitting....waiting...for however many days it will take the water levels to decrease so that they can...slide underneath the bridge and continue to go....wherever it is they're going. I'm looking at this, thinking, "Those are somebody's homes. What if it were my home?" Just think, the day before the Cedar River topped its banks, some guy was cleaning out his gutters. Now his gutters are floating in water. In the middle of downtown.

So, I thought of floods. And I thought of Shark and his family. And I thought alot this week about Tim Russert. And I thought, "you know, whatever it is you have, and whoever it is you are, is really very temporary, and you'd better enjoy what you have and be thankful for it". And then I thought that it's really difficult sometimes to "appreciate". It's, in a way, a kind of art-form. Because every time we think we have a grasp on what it is we have and want, well, then, we just want more. Wasn't it that famous philosopher Sheryl Crow who said, "It's not having what you want, it's wanting what you've got".

So, amidst the angst that I feel about...something, I'm going to try to "get Zen-like" this week and come to terms with appreciating what I have. I'm also going to fall back a bit on those long-ago days at the seminary and send out a heart-felt "Hail Mary" to the folks in Iowa and in other parts of the Midwest. May the river go back home soon.

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* Why not grab your favorite beverage, cop a squat, and groove to some DEMOS at www.mattmultimedia.com

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Dusting Off the Keyboard!

...with just the left-hand, of course!

This rotator cuff surgery thing really gets in the way of...well, of typing; hence, no Matt-blog activity! I'm right-handed, which means surgery of this sort, especially on the right shoulder, makes one appreciate the little things we take for granted, like:

* brushing one's teeth (and other bathroom "duties")
* putting on a belt
* making scrambled eggs
* operating a mouse
* putting on a seatbelt

Hopefully, Dr. What's-His-Name will give the thumbs-up to remove this harness so that I can avoid more inane comments like, "How'd you break your arm, dude?" Thankfully, when it comes to raising a frothy pint of Loose Cannon from Clipper City Brewing Company, I'm ambidextrous. The left arm is in Olympic-sized shape.

Oh, and it's really nice to flex one's elbow after an elongated time-period in the sling. Yes.

Go Pens!

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* Why not grab your favorite beverage, cop a squat, and groove to some DEMOS at www.mattmultimedia.com

Monday, May 12, 2008

OUCH!!!!

Memo to "Self"

Self: Do not...I repeat DO NOT perform any function, either exercise-related or otherwise, that would in any way put you in a position to have to have rotator cuff surgery on your left shoulder. Friday's experience, and the pain associated with it, could very well be the most hideous event I've ever been a part of. (aside from Edgar Renteria's hit in the '97 Series that contributed to the Indians loss). I mean...4 weeks..in a sling?

Oh, and I'm suing the makers of Percocet. Uh, excuse me, but that stuff is supposed to, like, work!!! What the f$@%!!!!????

Excuse me while I go get nauseous again.

-30-

* Why not grab your favorite beverage, cop a squat, and groove to some DEMOS at www.mattmultimedia.com

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Belgian ales in the mirror may seem smaller than they appear.

Judgment Day. I'm sure mine will feel eerily similar to this most outstanding ale I had last night while watching the Tribe blow another one to those pesky Royals. Port Brewing in San Marcos, CA creates a phenomenal line of beers called "The Lost Abbey", or as they like to say, "brewed for sinners and saints alike". I enjoyed Judgment Day, a 10.5% behemoth, brewed with raisins. And other stuff. All combined, it made for a delectable concoction that had no qualms about reminding me this morning how powerful it really was. So, I can only surmise that my "evaluation" will, more than likely, be a similar experience. Eye-opening and inspiring at the outset, and then slowly gliding towards the grim reminder of my deeds. Whenever that occurs, I hope there's a bottle of aspirin nearby.

I poke my head inside a "production" board on Radio-Info.com from time to time. It's basically populated by fellow voice-over guys and gals, as well as production/imaging types, who wax philosophic about gear, processing chains, tips and tricks on DAW software, and other audio subjects. There was a recent thread on "rock imaging", and the person who started it asked who was their favorite "voice", favorite "effects package", and such. There were several posts that took an almost "anti-imaging"-approach. For every fan of "Ned Spindle"-type creativity, there was an almost equal amount of admiration for the minimalist approach: short, to the point, on to the the music. One person posted something to the effect that most "voices" couldn't "interpret" copy the same as John O'Hurley and some of the other actors that are used as imaging voices on stations. These same people were really in favor of the "less-is-more" concept. (otherwise known as "LIM")

LIM....or not LIM? Hmmm....well, I understand the rationale, but, personally, I didn't get into radio, or production/imaging, solely for LIM. I "get" the philosophy behind it, the challenge inherent in promoting something "clever" about Rush Limbaugh or Dennis Miller, for instance, in an allotted :10... and, of course, the necessity to hit the network feed at the TOH. But other than that....hell, I want all the time I can get to be creative!!

I liken it to "Saturday Night Live". You're a couple of minutes or so into a "bit"...and...it's just not working. It continues on for awhile and you "feel" it in your abdomen that....this should just....end. I feel the same away about a sweeper or a promo. (In fact, I think sweepers ARE promos. Or can be.) If it's good, then roll with it. If it's not, then end it. I remember a Joel Moss piece several years ago involving a press conference with the Rolling Stones, during their visit to Cincinnati. As I recall, Joel was the "news reporter" and used clips of the Stones press conference as "answers" to his "questions". It's a bit that's been done about a gazillion times. But it was GOOD. And FUNNY. And LONG. And I didn't care WHEN it ended. So, I ask...."what's wrong with that?" Why shorten something....if it's....good? To do what...play "Sweet Emotion"....AGAIN?

I also had the luxury of hearing Ann DeWig put Sony Vegas through its paces every day while at DC-101, and only a nutbag would have reeled her in when she felt it necessary to "stretch the boundaries".

I'm not equating "good" with "length" (at least not for radio, necessarily.) Sometimes "short is better". It depends on the situation. But I just don't agree with it as a "code of creative conduct". Maybe the trend of PD's and OM's going the LIM route is simply because they don't have time to foster Joel Moss or Ned Spindle-type creativity? Maybe they don't know how. Then again, I suppose I'm also from the school of thought that says that a "more music morning show" for a station is merely a quick-fix....until a morning show can be found!

I agree that folks like Barry Corbin, John Corbett, John O'Hurley, and the like, are great! But I think there are a handful of other VO folks who would really relish more opportunities to play "voice-actor", if the copy was just....better! Just my opinion...but nothing, and I mean NOTHING, is better than a well-written promo, commercial, or sweeper! Writing is, by far, my favorite thing about production and imaging. Man, I wish we could also include our favorite WRITERS, along with favorite VOICE or favorite FX PACKAGE. I don't know if I'm a good copywriter, but I sure do enjoy it! I used to tell groups who would come through KDKA that my favorite imaging tool, by far, is Microsoft Word! It's better than Pro Tools, Vegas, Adobe Audition, Cakewalk...all of them! And the only thing I enjoy as much as writing a good promo is being able to voice someone else's well-written promo. I LOVE interpreting copy, and I hope I'm ok at it!

So, I'm mentioning my favored WRITER:

Favored Writer(s) = Blair Trosper Imaging Director, WBT-AM Charlotte - clever, erudite, cunning wit

Tim Sheehan, PD, WRKI-FM, Danbury, CT - witty, engaging, sarcastic

I've really enjoyed "performing" their words. (or at least trying to!)


Oh, did I mention that I'm a big fan of Ned Spindle?

I'm a big fan of Judgment Day, too. And the cobwebs are beginning to clear a bit! Woo-hoo! It's time to look through my provisions to see what ghastly turbo-charged extreme libation I can get my hands on so as to seal my fate before the divine powers-that-be. I'll feel mildly better if it goes hand-in-hand with an Indians "win" this time!

On second-thought, perhaps it might be better if I practiced a little LIM tonight.

-30-

* Why not grab your favorite beverage, cop a squat, and groove to some DEMOS at www.mattmultimedia.com

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Those $3.69-per-gallon Blues

As my beloved client stations know, I pulled a "Charles Kuralt" last week and hit the highway. (which explains the sudden lack of material lately here on this small corner of cyberspace) I claim multi-purpose reasons for this journey. I had to drop my wife off in Cincinnati to hit the flower show circuit with a few of her friends who drove over from Pittsburgh. Then, it was off to see the folks. Seeing as how my parents will both hit the "80" mark this August, I've felt more and more like I need to spend more time with them. Better put, I want to spend more time with them. It's tough, though, to do that often when you're a 10-hour car trip away.

While I'm home ("home" being Canton, Ohio, the birthplace of professional football...although Pottsville, PA generally has something to say about that) I also get to see brothers and sisters, nieces or nephews I've yet to meet, and a few friends...or at least the ones that are still there. I also get to grab a few things that I obviously can't get here. The first? Pizza from "The Pizza Oven". I defy anyone to present to me a better sausage pizza. I don't think it exists. Second? Milk chocolate peanut-clusters from "Ben Heggy's Candy". In fact, had I not had in my possession a two-pound box of Heggy's when my wife crawled back into the car on the return trip to Cincy, I'm sure divorce proceedings would have begun immediately.

I also had a chance to hop over to Pittsburgh to meet up with a few friends from KDKA, as well as grab lunch with John Robertson, the Program Director for BOB (WRRK-FM) in Pittsburgh. John is an old friend of mine and one of the "good guys" in the business. We talked about doing a bit of imaging work for one of his HD channels. There were certainly lots of "Crosby" jerseys walking around in the Golden Triangle. (Go Pens!) There were also LOTS of orange barrels. They were everywhere! In fact, from the minute I paid my $3.00 in order to have the luxury of driving on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the orange barrels, construction signs, flag-men, and dump trucks never ceased until I parked downtown.

The other crucial element to any trip home? Beer. You see, this large chunk of real estate known as the "midwest" is, in some ways, lacking a few of life's important sustenance, like Commodore Perry IPA from Great Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland, the "greatest location in the nation"...or Blithering Idiot from Weyerbacher Brewing in Easton, PA...or Dale's Pale Ale from Oskar Blues in Colorado...or my neighbor's favorite beer, Red Tulip from New Holland Brewing in Michigan. (there are more, but my rented Kia Rondo was only so big.) Plus, I've been involved in a kind of "beer trade" with a buddy out west, so I had his "list" to satisfy. Include a stop at "Jungle Jim's" in Fairfield, Ohio on the way back for other sundry offerings and I'm sure I broke, like, 23 different intra-state laws involving the transport of beverages. But I'll tell ya...that Nosferatu from Great Lakes sure hit the spot while watching the Pens mop up on Jagr and the Rangers last night!

A few other observations:

* WEBN in Cincinnati still sounds pretty darned good
* Every semi-truck in America is on I-70 whenever I'm on I-70
* Except for this mesmerisingly huge cross in Effingham, there's not a whole lot in southern Illinois
* There isn't too much more between Indianapolis and Terre Haute
* Pittsburgh is still one of the most gorgeous-looking cities
* My wife snores really loudly when she falls asleep in the car

So, there you have it.

My"see-mom-buy-a-cheap-Indians-shirt-share-a-birthday-beer-with-
my-twin-brother-fill-up-the-gas-tank-6-times" Charles Kuralt-like sojourn!
I'll more-than-likely do it again before the summer is over.

Oh....and those gas prices hurt! I mean, really hurt. Can't wait for 4 bucks.

Pass the Commodore Perry.

-30-

* Why not grab your favorite beverage, cop a squat, and groove to some DEMOS at www.mattmultimedia.com

Friday, April 18, 2008

Those Damned Tectonic Plates!

So, there I am, casually standing at the bar in my Armani jacket, taking a long drag off my Dunhill, and admiring the complex malt profile of my wee dram of Laphroaig when she walked in. With wind-tusselled auburn-red hair, lip-gloss, painted nails, and a provocative trail of Rive Gauche, she strode towards my end of the bar, her high-heels coinciding gracefully, or so it seemed, with the band, as they deftly moved through their rendition of "Blue in Green". She walked past me, brushing ever-so-slightly against my jacket, and moved in to a spot next to me.

Without asking, she grabbed my Imco off the bar and quickly lit her cigarette. She dropped the lighter next to my scotch, exhaled loudly, and exclaimed, "They do Miles Davis pretty well." I took a slow sip of my drink, pausing briefly after I swallowed, and looked down but in her direction, careful not to look directly at her red cashmere sweater, or the contents therein.

"Not bad. Drummer's a bit sloppy, but not bad."

This wasn't the first time she'd been in this place. The bartender had already placed a glass of what looked like pinot noir in front of her. Williams Selyem, I figured. Probably a '93. She looked like a '93. Out of a possible 100.

She took a deep, long drag from her cigarette, stubbed it out in the ashtray I was using, and turned fully towards me.

"You planning on staying through this band's whole set?"

I turned to face her. My, how I do enjoy red cashmere sweaters.

"As a matter of fact, I am," I replied, carefully, so as not to hyperventilate.

She stared at me briefly, then at the band, and then back at me. Crossing her arms. she said, "There's something more interesting to look at on that stage?"

I turned away from her, drained the remaining Laphroaig, and lit another Dunhill. "Do you see the microphone in front of the piano player?"

"Yes."

I exhaled slowly and then motioned to the bartender, pointing to my empty glass. "I bought it from him. And when he's done singing tonight, I'm going to take it home."

She looked towards the stage, the light from the bar bouncing seductively off of her lip-gloss . "Let me get this straight. You're being given the opportunity to legally violate the most voluptuous woman in the room, and, instead, you're going to opt to spend the remainder of the night listening to some pathetic Miles Davis cover band...so that you can take home...a microphone?

I slammed my glass down on the bar. "A microphone? No, hon, that's not a microphone. That's a Telefunken Ela M 270 Stereo Tube Microphone, one of the most well-crafted and most highly-sought-after microphones in the world! That microphone is a Lamborghini! It's Beluga caviar! It's a freaking Steinway! It has dual 1-inch, gold-sputtered, 6-micron CK12 capsules placed one on top of the other, offering three polar patterns per capsule: cardioid, omni and figure-8. That thing you call a "microphone" has a GE JAN 6072a tube and two Haufe T14/1 output transformers. Two! And you know what, hon? It's mine! MINE! I've waited my whole life for this microphone and as soon as he's done playing tonight I'm going to run up on that stage and...

BOOM!

...and there's my wife waking me up at exactly 4:37 this morning by whisper-screaming, "Was that an earthquake?" And I was, like, "What?" And she says, "You didn't feel that?" I stared at her momentarily, throwing aside my CPAP mask. "An earthquake?" She continued to look at me, dumbfounded. "Yes, I swear to God that was an earthquake. I can't believe you didn't feel that!" And as she was getting out of bed, she stopped. "Oh, let me guess....red cashmere sweater again, right?! Geez."

No, actually, it was a Telefunken Ela M 270 Stereo Tube Microphone again. And I still haven't been able to touch even one of those. Damn earthquakes.

-30-

* Why not grab your favorite beverage, cop a squat, and groove to some DEMOS at www.mattmultimedia.com

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Grace Under Pressure

My friend Chuck Matthews was "downsized" yesterday. It's always a bummer to read about people losing jobs in our business, but it hits you even harder when it's someone you know. It's especially difficult when that same person is a multi-talented guy. It makes me wonder why more companies don't attempt to find talented people another spot in another market within that company. So, if you're reading this and you know of a position that could utilize a talented imaging/production person with top 75-market PD experience, Top 20-market Imaging experience, and one HUGE voice....drop me a note.

When I was in the seminary, the great Monsignor Leonard J. Fick would often times call upon the wisdom of Santiago, the old man in The Old Man and The Sea. He would ask us to use Santiago as a model for overcoming obstacles. (I guess he figured there were enough priests in residence at the seminary who would already ask us to utilize that of the sacrifice made by our Lord and Savior. Best for him to stick with his beloved literary figures!) He would say, "Look at Santiago, for there you shall see the ultimate display of grace under pressure".

Grace under pressure. No, it's not the same as discovering that you have cancer or some horrible disease. But losing a job is never an enjoyable event. I know. I was "down-sized" at the end of 2006. After the initial shock wears off, and after you're done putting on a front for family and friends with clever sayings like "well, now I can find out if Drew Carey has been the right replacement for Bob Barker on The Price is Right", and things like that, the cold, hard reality begins to sink in.

What do I do now?

Do I send out massive emails to acquaintances and industry contacts? Do I send a package to the competition? Do I switch careers? Go back to school? Move...again? I found the hardest thing to deal with was the fact that I felt like my chosen profession, in a way, let me down. How could I be let go? I thought I had "talent"? Why aren't there 5 other stations already vying for my services? The Glenn Beck promo for the next day is not going to get done now. Surely, they'll realize this and by late afternoon tomorrow I'll get a phone call with the "we've reconsidered" lament and all will be right with the world.

But I was amazed at the ...small amount of reaction. People close to me shared their sympathies and a few extended an offer to "keep their ears open". But, all in all, the reaction was...not overtly strong. I told my wife several weeks afterwards that I felt really lonely. I thought I had more industry friends than this. I thought I was better than this.

So I thought of Fr. Fick. And Santiago. And "grace under pressure". And shortly after exclaiming "what a bunch of bulls*it" several dozen times, I decided to gather a bit of poise and press on. A little grace under pressure. And since then, after cultivating some very important relationships that I have with my current station clients, I'm able , at least so far, to pay the mortgage and occasionally afford a couple bottles of "Hot Rod Rye Ale" from Bear Republic Brewing Company. (an absolutely delicious beer!) After all, we all have our own version of "grace"...right?

You're not alone, Charles.

-30-

* Why not grab your favorite beverage, cop a squat, and groove to some DEMOS at www.mattmultimedia.com

Friday, April 4, 2008

This big, metallic upside-down "U"!

Radio can, and probably always will be, a "vagabond" lifestyle. It's interesting...early in my career, I always looked at "market-jumping" as a kind of necessity. Certainly, if one wanted to earn more money, one sometimes had to pack up the Ryder truck. Or, if a person wanted to make a move in order to secure their first PD position, or their first Morning Show gig, they sometimes were forced to toss their belongings in a box (or several boxes, in my case) and hit the highway. As the years pass...and as I gaze at photos and souvenirs of various locales where I've dragged my wife kicking and screaming, I have a tendency to feel the opposite way. I'm a bit envious of the people who have managed to find their niche, make their mark, or be perfectly comfortable with what's in their bank account by staying in the same spot. (that's, of course, presupposing that they've managed to deflect the menacing sickle of the "Downsize Reaper".)

My wife and I continue to be, in a sense, "vagabonds". After spending 5 years in Pittsburgh, we opted to follow her career aspirations and head to St. Louis. (or at least the "Illinois" side of St. Louis) After being here for almost a year, I must admit that I'm struggling to figure out what it is exactly that I feel for this place.

We were living in the Washington, DC area (Annapolis, to be exact) and I was working for Sports Talk 980 when I was approached by the folks at KDKA in Pittsburgh. The Steel City is close to home in Ohio, so after much reflection we decided to trade in crabcakes at Mike's in Riva for pierogies in Pittsburgh. That took some adjustment. We loved Annapolis, and I'm sure my wife still holds it against me that I took her away from glorious Quiet Waters Park, afternoons spent on the City Dock, and the colonial, if not highly "touristy", feel of truly one of America's coolest cities. (I mean, where else can you find a street with the name "Duke of Gloucester"?)

But I grew to love Pittsburgh. It didn't take long to become attracted to its quirky geography, wacky provincialism, and European feel. I could do without the "Pittsburghese", ("yinz guys wanna go dahn Strip District 'n 'at and git a Primanti sandwich?") And as a Browns fan, I could certainly do without all that disgusting black-and-gold and all those Jack Lambert throwbacks.
But it began to fit like an old shoe. I hated its weather but loved its strange topography, and I especially enjoyed playing "tour guide" when people would come to visit. (and it has, in my opinion, one of the finest brewers in America, in Scott Smith at East End Brewing Company. Man, I miss that Big Hop!)

And now we're here. And I'm just......not feelin' it, ya know? It's a city with a storied history and a tremendous fan base. (Man, do these people LOVE their Cardinals!) But, there aren't any midshipman marching in during a Navy game on a Saturday afternoon. There's no little table to sit at to drink Fordham Brewing's "Oyster Stout" to go along with my mussels, while I stare at the boats out on the Chesapeake Bay. There aren't any rides on the incline to the top of Mount Washington in order to take pictures of the Golden Triangle. And there's no "Pierogies Plus", an old gas-station-turned-kitchen, staffed by people who emigrated from the Ukraine, Poland and all over eastern Europe (Julia Balik has been making pierogies for over 75 years!) who close up shop when all the pierogies they've made for the day are sold.

But about 13 miles from me is this big metallic arch. It's an architectural marvel, really, when you're standing next to it. And there's a big river. And there are lots of people wearing red. And there's a ton of Budweiser. And I'm sure there's more than that. But, for some reason, I'm.....just not feeling it. Maybe I need to go stand under the arch, look up, and stare at it for awhile. Maybe some oracle will provide me with Show-Me-State inspiration.

Now, if I can be less contemplative for a moment and a bit more thankful...for being able to be a part of Rochester, Minnesota's newest rock station, "Z-Rock 107-7"! (Thanks Brent and Jeff!) And, The Matt-Man is back in the Tar Heel State, a proud "voice" of "96-5 The Drive" in Fayetteville. (Thanks, Stoney!) And to show my thanks, I'm going to go search for a tasty, local St. Louis micro-brew. I hear Square One Brewery has an awesome pale ale! (there's another way to celebrate!?)

-30-

* Why not grab your favorite beverage, cop a squat, and groove to some DEMOS at www.mattmultimedia.com

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Look ma....no voice!

So, let's say you draw....cartoons for a living. You have several newspapers or periodicals who use your work on a fairly regular basis throughout the week. You're expected to deliver every couple of days (or in some cases, every day) You awaken on a...Tuesday, for instance. And you can't move your hand. Perhaps you slept on it in an awkward position, or maybe your ever-increasing arthritis has decided to muster warp-speed. Regardless the reason, you can't comb your hair, much less produce a drawing for that day.

What do you do?

That's how I feel, several times a year. It could be a head-cold, allergies, some weird phenomenon affecting my asthma....or whatever. Regardless of the reason, the 'chords just ain't workin! Now what!?

Now THAT is frustration! Nothing pains me more than not being able to speak. (my wife has an alternate opinion on that, I'm sure) It doesn't seem to matter how many times I clear my throat or how many cups of "Throat Coat" tea I make, the upcoming White Stripes concert ticket giveaway lines that were sent to me are just NOT going to come out of this throat today! Then, the painful note to clients declaring the bad news has to get written.

There's no rhyme or reason to it. Like you, perhaps, I sometimes feel it coming on. It starts as a small "burning sensation". It could take a day to materialize, or it could take several. There's just no way to know for sure when it's going to hit.

It happened Thursday. I knew from the moment I woke up that something wasn't quite right. But, like the cartoonist with severe arthritis flare-up, I hoped and prayed that it was temporary thing that would vacate the premises by 10:00 or so. But that's not what happened. What CAN you do!? I've even gone as far as to re-trace old audio files in an attempt to "piece-meal" together some semblance of a promo. But that generally doesn't work, in most cases.

Thank G-d for the weekend! The old snout feels like it has a mitten on the end of it, so I'm downing Nyquil, Tylenol, Sudafed....hell, anything I can get my hands on. I'm sure my wife is fatigued at hearing me scream, "Do we have ANYTHING else in this cabinet that I can take?"

I thought I read something in the New England Journal of Medicine about a correlation between the elimination of the common cold and single-malt scotch, so I'm off to the "medicine cabinet" again. It doesn't say whether it should be islay or speyside. (you Scotch-devotees will understand) Better try both.

-30-

* Why not grab your favorite beverage, cop a squat, and groove to some DEMOS at www.mattmultimedia.com

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Easter Egg Enigma

What a strange Easter weekend!

My wife's mother in Ohio has been ill off-and-on for some time, and she suddenly took a turn for the worse on the day before Holy Thursday. So, Donna needed to head home, just in case. (ever try to find a cheap flight 8 hours before you need it? There goes my Tab Funkenwerk preamp!)
So as I was recording some things for KBGG in Des Moines, she called me later on Thursday to say that she wanted to hang around until the Tuesday or Wednesday after Easter.

I'm not sure if you've ever had the experience of being away from family during a Holiday, but it's a sometimes-surreal event. It had been quite awhile since I "missed" a Holiday with family. I believe the last time was during my seminary days. But "radio", and the hop-scotch, bouncing from-market-to-market mentality that can sometimes be associated with it (I've done my share!) puts a different, sometimes twisted, take on the Holiday experience. But even in my radio travels, I've had the advantage of cushioning the blow by having my wife with me, as well as, perhaps, a few acquaintances/friends from the radio station. (especially true during our time in Knoxville...our radio station compadres were invaluable during Holidays!)

However, we came to this area for different reasons. My wife works with, and for, her son. But, her son and family were in Florida for the Easter weekend, and now D was on the big bird headed towards BuckeyeLand. All of this, combined with the fact that there really aren't any "friends" as of yet in the area, made for a contemplative, bizarre, slightly disconcerting weekend.

Matt, the dog (Maggie May), the cat (Ruby Tuesday), Charter On-Demand, several bottles of Bear Republic "Hop Rod Rye Ale", and a few Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs. Now, THAT'S a Holiday weekend!

Oh, and check out me and Maggie on the big screen! Cinema St. Louis and the Animal Protective Association of Missouri are sponsoring a short film festival. What does a guy who does digital editing for a living do when he gest tired of the "audio" portion of Sony Vegas? Why, he tries to utilize the "video" portion of Sony Vegas! Check us out:



Was Maggie making a general statement about her SEC preferences? Was she merely expressing displeasure at the collegiate atmosphere in general? Or, by reacting the way she did, was she invoking a higher calling that seems innately prevalent in all of us? Only the true film and art-house pundits will know for sure. You be the judge.

See what happens when you have too much weekend time on your hands...or have ingested too many of those Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs?

-30-

* Why not grab your favorite beverage, cop a squat, and groove to some DEMOS at www.mattmultimedia.com












Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Love them Tar Heels!

With the advent of March Madness upon us, you probably think today's title would indicate that I'm flaunting some type of Tyler Hansbrough jersey. Well, I'm not. Personally, I'm going with my some-what-of-an-alma mater of Kent State. (Go Golden Flashes!) And, then, once they pack their suitcases and head home, I'm pulling out Vol "orange". Of course, as Pitt will tell you, never count out, completely, the Mid-American Conference. They can help toss a team's dreams right in the wastebasket.

No, I'm feeling "love" for the Tar Heel State because the Matt-Man has joined the Fayetteville team at Classic Hits "96-5 The Drive". Yeah! Dave Stone gave me the good word this week, so we're all ready to "get busy" . Who knows, Stoney may have fondness for the Dukies...or some other team in the ACC. I should probably find that out. In a hoops-crazed state like North Carolina, one has to be careful as to what colors one sports on "Tobacco Road".

I continue to be fascinated by the stories behind "rivalries" and team affiliations. Primarily, aside from the soft spot I have for Notre Dame because of my father's intense love of the Irish, I always grew up more of a professional sports fan. Although I flirted with a few rogue teams during adolescence, I'm a "Cleveland" guy, through and through. It wasn't until I started working in Knoxville back in the late 90's that I really tasted what collegiate sports are all about. (I mean, there was a guy who lived in Oak Ridge, not too far from Knoxville, who actually...taped his ankles...prior to Vol kick-off!? O.......kay.) I remember sitting at a Tennessee basketball game with Tim Sheehan, another fellow northerner who came to the mid-South to help wreak havoc on east Tennessee radio. (Tim and I have reunited again, this time on the mighty I-95 in Danbury, Connecticut!) We were both sitting in our orange seats, draped in orange sweat-shirts, surrounded by 17,000 other people who were adorned in orange gear, staring out at an orange court, and he turned to me and said, "You know, there's no other place on the planet where you would be caught dead wearing this shade of orange on anything!" He's right.

I voiced a few commercials for the Fox crew at WCOV-TV in Montgomery, Alabama yesterday and Jacob, one of the talented video guys in the creative services department, complimented me on the fact that I pronounced something in similar fashion as they would pronounce it in the South. I mentioned something to the effect that some of that time spent in Knoxville helped. Mere nanoseconds passed and an email arrived: "You didn't really buy anything defiled with univ of tennessee colors, logos etc did you? if so, you just lost mucho coolness points!" Oops. I didn't ask him whether he was "Roll Tide" or "War Eagle", but I had committed a horrible faux pas and as a non-rookie, I knew better. I mentioned that I "lately had just been wearing t-shirts with the SEC logo on it" in a valiant attempt to save face, to which he replied, "that would be the only thing that would save a TN lover".

I love it. I've been to Tuscaloosa to see the Tide go at it against the Bayou Bengals, and he's right: the SEC is the best conference. I'm sure the Big Ten think so by now.

So as not to upset my new friend in Fayetteville, I have removed all vestiges of orange, Kent State, and Notre Dame and am sporting only the "ACC" logo. There's safety in numbers.

-30-

* Why not grab your favorite beverage, cop a squat, and groove to some DEMOS at www.mattmultimedia.com

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Meeting the hand that feeds you...

I probably have a tendency to pontificate a bit too much on the seemingly warp-speed changes that occur in our chosen profession; unfortunately, many of them are not favorable. One of the things that I grapple with is the "less-than-personal" aura that things have taken on, due to technology, etc. So, I always get a small rush whenever I get to actually meet a client of mine from some long-distance locale.

I've been the voice of WJBC in Bloomington, Illinois for several years now. R.C. McBride is the program director and he is one of those guys with whom I simply felt at ease around, even over the phone. Having worked at KDKA for 5 years, I certainly have a "thing" for the long-standing, community-minded full-service radio station. WJBC is every bit of that and more. And for a young guy like R.C. to harbor many of the same feelings that I have about a station's role in the community, its importance, and its overall effect on news and talk in a particular town, I immediately sensed back in 2004 that we were going to hit it off. It also doesn't hurt that he's a DIE-HARD Cubs fan, and any fan of baseball is a fan of mine . (or "mine" of "his", or something like that.)

But, we've never met. Until yesterday. R.C. is also an accomplished play-by-play man, and amongst his many duties at "The Voice of McLean County" he's also behind the microphone for the Illinois State Redbird women's basketball team. The Missouri Valley Conference tournament was held this weekend in my neck 'o the woods, so we finally hooked up! It was great to link up a face with a phone-voice!

In talking to him about WJBC, I'm reminded that, aside from traffic situations and, to a certain extent, salary...there isn't much difference between WJBC and KDKA. He would often-times pick my brain while I was at KDKA about promo ideas and such, almost in a sense "deferring" to me, due to the fact that I was in "the big city" and he was in "little Bloomington-Normal". And after talking with him over the past several years, I still stand by what I said to him during our initial conversations: market-size is simply irrelevant. The weather information that's important to some grad student driving from his apartment over to Illinois Wesleyan University is the same info that's important to some credit manager driving in from Monroeville through the Squirrel Hill Tunnel into downtown. (although as any Pittsburgher would tell you, there's generally not a whole lot of movement in the Squirrel Hill Tunnel during rush hour!) I know he probably doesn't believe me now just as he didn't believe me then, but I would not hesitate to say that the folks at KDKA could learn a thing or two from WJBC. It's a sharp operation, and R.C. is a sharp programmer.

Oh, and my "less-than-personal" aura also became disrupted by a phone call from Chris Stevens, the programming grand poobah at Rock 105 in Joplin, Missouri! He called to (and you'll like this) "just say hi and to see what was going on". Wh- wh- what!!?? "Muttley" is knockin' 'em dead in the southwestern part of the "Show Me" state, so that's good news. (and bad news for other Joplin-area stations!) It was very nice to hear from him!

Two in one week? Whoa! Maybe I need an "aura-adjustment".

It's only 11 o'clock and I'm already salivating over this 22-ounce "bomber" of Hoppin Frog I.P.A. from my adopted hometown of Akron, Ohio. (how they achieved distribution in this part of the globe, I'll never know, but I'm a better man because of it.) Everything they brew is solid. I wish the job-prognosis was as good for the Rubber City as the beer.

Two weeks till Opening Day. Yes!

-30-

* Why not grab your favorite beverage, cop a squat, and groove to some DEMOS at www.mattmultimedia.com

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Contemplations on the demise of the 7-inch reel....

I've had the pleasure lately of working with both KNEN-FM in Norfolk, Nebraska (man, they LOVE their Huskers there!) and WZLK-FM in Pikeville, a part of the East Kentucky Broadcasting group. I was telling my wife about the latest round of imaging pieces and I was immediately reminded of how the whole process has changed. It really wasn't that long ago that, while throwing in South Park drops into promo-pieces for "The X" in Knoxville, I secured my first client-station. Whoa....I am the "voice" of a station? Me? I'll always be grateful to Harry Kozlowski at WJYY in Concord, NH (who has a far better voice than I do!) for giving me my first station. As I was uploading the finished pieces to Walt May at EKB, I was really rather flabbergasted by what has transpired, technically, in the last 10 years.

I can recall getting a call from Harry about a promo that had to be voiced. 'JYY had access to some concert tickets and wanted to promote it during Morning Drive the next day. Here, in 2008...no problem! "Hey, just email those lines and I'll jump on 'em and have 'em posted.....oh, in about an hour? Will that work?" But in 1998, well, it was a different story.

First, Harry had to fax the lines. Then, I had to record the lines a couple of times into this new device called a "digital audio workstation". I looked up at the clock. "Hmmm...4:10 p.m. The last Fed Ex pick-up is at 4:45 p.m." That meant I had to ask permission to borrow some clean quarter-inch tape from the station, play the finished "takes" back in reel time (get it? "reel" time?), listen back to the reel in real time to make sure things sounded fine, address the Fed Ex package, and then...literally...RUN downstairs to the front desk so that Mr. Federal Express person could whisk my little reel away to the state where Magic Hat brewery resides.

The only downside to that process is that Mr. Federal Express person had already "picked up"...and he was driving away! So, I had no other recourse but...to run after him! And that's what I did. I ran down Kingston Pike, screaming at the top of my lungs for Mr. Federal Express person to stop his truck. Amidst traffic, as well as the pulmonary dilemmas due to being overweight, I managed to get him to finally slam on the brakes. Soppping wet in the east Tennessee humidity, I thrust my little reel at him, huffing and puffing a "can ya take this one, too?", and collapsed in a heap, right there in front of Long's Drug Store. Whew!! Concord morning-show listeners would get to win their concert tickets after all. And to think that some wish their "voice-guy" would "go the extra mile"? Hmmm....

Just to be clear: I DO NOT miss analog editing, by any stretch! And I do NOT miss tangled reels, splicing tape, dull razor blades, or typing labels for the top of the reel box AT ALL! However, I do sometimes wonder how many more things in our industry will go by the wayside because of the digital realm. The 7-inch reel is a museum piece. And, of course, the "Overnight Jock", in most places, is certainly a relic. Here at MAMM World Headquarters, I keep a small "token" from yesteryear, given to me by one of the engineers ("engineer....what's that?" you ask) at Sports Talk 980 in Washington, DC. It's an I-T cart machine that sits on the top shelf, and inside of it resides one Scotch cart with a label that reads "Legal ID". At times like this, when I get a hankerin' to take a meter-reading and I'm feeling all nostalgic, I reach up, pull that Scotch cart out of the deck...and then jam that sucker back in quickly so that it makes that unmistakable "plastic-hitting-metal" sound and line up my next two songs because, "hey, dude, gotta hang up. My Zeppelin Two-Fer is fading out and it's the top of the hour, so I gotta go, bro. Catch ya later!"
I'm getting all misty-eyed here.

In a little under six weeks, I'll be journeying towards the Buckeye State for a visit with the folks. It will also give me a chance to load up on Great Lakes Commodore Perry IPA, as well as Weyerbacher's Blithering Idiot, just two of many offerings unavailable here in America's Heartland. I wish there was as much beer selection as there are cornfields here. A man needs proper nourishment.

18 days until the bat hits the ball and Grady Sizemore is standing at 2nd, unscathed.

-30-

* Why not grab your favorite beverage, cop a squat, and groove to some DEMOS at www.mattmultimedia.com