El Chango, Imaging in Mexico and why 8 year olds…

Francisco, nicknamed “EL CHANGO”, is a very well established Imaging Director from Mexico who I got introduced to lately. I have been to Mexico a few times and I just love this country. I grabbed the opportunity to speak with Francisco about Imaging in general, the Mexican market, and learned how an 8 year old can influence your next Promo. Enter Francisco.

1. Which production system do you use  and why?

At Multimedios, the company in which I work we have 3 different tools to produce. Protools, Sony Vegas and Adobe Audition. My favorite is Sony Vegas. Why? It is a very friendly software to produce. I have used it since 2004 and it so cool and it is as pro as any other software for audio and video. Believe it or not it has everything that other software has. There is a standard around the world to produce? Yes, which is what? Protools, but the other software products aren’t less than protools. For years other producer friends of mine told me, you need to change and stay in protools. Why? That’s the tool for the pros…by the way I don’t mean I don’t like it or I don’t know it (protools). But I fell in love with Sony Vegas, it has all that anyone needs to work at a professional broadcast company. By the way I am not selling Sony Vegas on this blog lol. Let me tell you a funny story that happened a couple of years ago with some of my radio production friends. We did a test with Protools and Sony Vegas…how was this test? I produced a promo with both software products, then I played it on the air and guess what? No one could recognize the difference between the promos. I have always thought, “it is not the equipment or the software, it is the hand that works on it that makes the difference.”

 2. What are your favorite plugIns? What is the perfect VO chain?

My favorite plugins are:

Waves – Super Tap, Waves – Metaflanger, Waves – Tune, Waves – True Verb, Waves – One Knob Filter, Izotope Nectar Elements, Fab Filter Timeless, Echo boy From Sound Toys. 

I think the best VO chain depends on every one. In my case the chain I have used is this: A Great Eq and a great compression of the voice at the beginning, it makes a big difference. After that you can have hours of fun manipulating voiceovers with all the plugIns you have. I insist, that’s my case.

Vegas Session – ID – Classic 106.9

Vegas Session – ID – Classic 106.9

3.  How do you schedule your work?

As soon as Monday starts I plan the whole week, what has to be done daily, etc. When I finish a promo I don’t stop to have a break, I go to the next production, and the next one, and so on. Why? This will buy me time to do production that might come unexpectedly. Believe it or not every week something unexpected comes and becomes a priority. I am not a fortune teller, I know this because with more than 40 radio stations to produce with different formats (News, CHR, Sports, Talk radio), there’s always someone on these formats that forgot to do a job and what could have been planned now becomes a mega priority and the full responsibility falls on us (the production team). I’ve always thought that because this production is in a rush, it has to be produced in a rush. If by Thursday I have finished my production work, now I have time to create new ideas and 2 full days to make them real and guess what? I have time for something unexpected that I didn’t see coming. Lol.

I don’t waste time on Facebook when I’m at work, at home, or in my spare time. My free time is for my family and my activities are with them. I’m only on Facebook if I need to contact people, friends or relatives who are not close to me and I can find them there.

I rarely post anything on Facebook. I’m not a social media lover, I’m not on Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn, or any other social media platforms, and I won’t be part of them. I really enjoy my personal time, I love my privacy, and I don’t understand why I would have to waste time in my life to watch somebody else’s life while I am at work or on vacations, at a BBQ, at business meetings, or at the mall while I’m having an ice cream with my wife and kids.

Anyways, back at work what really helps me finish my job every day is to stay away from my phone and social chatting while I produce. I only take calls from the bosses when I’m producing or from my wife. After I finish my production I answer emails and take phone calls.

4. What do you love about being the head of imaging at Grupo Multimedios? What is special about Mexico and the Imaging/Radio community?

Oh great questions! I love to see all the creative work and creative people around my position, the voiceovers, copywriters, producers, and even the naysayers. Lol. Our job is not to impress the owners and managers of the company. Our job is not to impress each other, our job is to impress an audience around the country with our work. Back in the 90s people used to pay attention to the promos when they were on air. Twenty years later listeners don’t give the same attention to the production on air, but when the audience turns the radio up it pays every effort put on the smallest or complex detail of production. Being head of the imaging department in Multimedios is a big responsibility. With 45 radio stations in Mexico, 1 radio station in Madrid, Spain, many formats to produce, and many formats to compete against us…we can´t be the best, we have to be top of the best in this country. Plus we are always in the eye of the hurricane. Why? Because all the promos, sweepers, and production have to make it on air and on time. If a promo it is not delivered on time, everybody notices it and as a consequence, all fingers will be pointed at us. I can’t afford that on my position.

Mexico has been a very competitive country in Imaging since the old days of radio to the latest styles of imaging. This country has had the best producers capable of creating big ideas and competes in big production contests around the world (Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey are the cities where you find the best of the best in Radio Imaging).

The radio community is getting smaller in a medium that is getting bigger. Big corporations are heading the industry to do more with less in every aspect and in all areas like sales, production, promotion, etc. On the other hand, the radio community respects each other. You can find some amazing people working at a different company and later they become your friends and the last thing we do at a BBQ is talk about radio. We have fun, we enjoy the moment, and we respect each other. I remember a broadcast I was doing outside the Monterrey Arena before a Jonas Brothers concert when 2 of my DJs fell down from the stage. I was heading to the meet and greet with some listeners and when I arrived to the stage, the guys from other radio station had already called the ambulance to take them to the closest hospital because my DJs fell on their heads and were in big pain!! That’s how the radio community responded and helped us during that horrific moment. By the way they are ok and they are still alive lol.

The production team of Multimedios Radio in Monterrey! From left to right: Ramiro Hernandez, Mario Chapa, Jose Luis Coronado “ La Vaca”, Angel Mario Perez, Juan Salas and me Francisco”El Chango” Rivera

5. What is the best Pro Tools or production trick anybody should know?

I think the best trick everybody needs to know is how to record the voice from the beginning. Why? Because If you have a bad recording from the start, it doesn’t matter which or how many plug-ins you have, everything will be heard even worse than it was originally. If the voiceover was recorded on an Iphone, Ipad or at a studio and it’s a bad recording, it will be very difficult to rescue it and make something cool with that bad audio. The final work won’t be as good as your other productions. It will be noticed by all audio and production lovers. You won’t post that work to Facebook or Soundcloud, lol.

6. How do you get inspired and what do you use as a source of creativity? What does the term “creative Imaging” mean to you?

Great question too. I get inspired from every situation around me. Let me tell you a fun story. A couple of weeks ago my 8 year old daughter asked me:

“Daddy can you do a promo using “Dangerous” from Michael Jackson?” Obviously I said, “Yeah baby I will do it for you.” It took me 3 days to do and ID for the station Classic 106.9 FM in Monterrey, using “Dangerous” from Michael Jackson in the back and matching some other songs from the 80s and 90s.

When she heard the promo she was speechless she said, “Daddy that was awesome show me all the elements and play it back.” That ID is played every hour on the hour on the station and every time she hears it she says, “My daddy did that promo for me.” The other funny part is that no one can understand what exactly her daddy did, because her friends or other people only hear a lot of songs on the radio. Lol.

Any moment can inspire me to create something. If a go a to a football game, right there at the stadium I get an idea that helps me to produce a promo with that same sensation you feel at the stadium.  

When I go to a concert I get some inspiration for a concert promo, and again I try to put that same sensation on the promo. When I go to church I got some inspiration too. When I produce our Christian radio station I want to reflect the feeling I felt at church on the production. Every situation, bad or good, can inspire me to be creative and makes me do something different, something new, and something better.

The term Creative Imaging to me means, to create something different from what is already done. It is so easy to put any song on and voiceover saying the name of the station and sound fx before and after. That is so easy!!! To be creative is to make it sound different even if you don’t have elements like instrumentals, acapellas or music parts. When your mind works and makes real sound that was in your head, it makes you a real creative imaging producer. It is so funny because when someone that doesn’t work on the radio and don’t know me asks me, “what do you do for a living?” My answer is, “I work with the noises and voices that came out of my head!!!” You should see the faces of people lol. And it gets funnier when you explain to them that in your head was a voice with a big echo coming out of the back all the way to the front moving from left to right and you act the voice, “aaaaAAAAAAAll The hits!!!” Their faces are like oh my god this guy is maybe in some kind of mental treatment lol!

7. Who were your radio production idols, who influenced your work as a producer?

I won’t forget when I was 7-8 years old, a cousin of mine who was 10 years older invited me to a radio station because the DJ was his friend. When I was in the booth I said, “woooooowwww when I grow up, I want to work in radio all my life.” Thank God he has blessed me with 26 years of work in the radio business. Well, that wasn’t the question but it was important for me to say it. Lol. When I was doing my promos at home during my teenage days, Alejandro Gonzalez Iñaritu who is now a movie director who has won an Oscar in Hollywood, was a DJ on a radio station in Mexico City. He was doing crazy stuff with ideas and promos with Martin Hernandez and some other producers who influenced me a lot those days.

The band U2 from the 90s inspired me a lot. That tour produced by EBN was awesome. Again, I was asking how do they do it. At the station I was working and at that time we produced with reels and a big 8 track Sony record machine. When I was introduced to computers for production radio, my world changed and I was able to make a jump from Earth to Mars in production terms lol.

MTV from the 80s influenced me a lot. I was always asking myself, “how did they do that? How can they distort the songs or make changes on a voice?” I was a kid with no idea about equipment or tools, not even the smallest clue of how the people on the TV and radio were working. I tried to imitate the sounds with what I had: a phone answering machine to make the speaker voice fx, a turn table (which by the way wasn’t made for scratching), a double cassette player and headphones that were part microphones lol. With that primitive equipment I made my demo which opened a door for me to the radio industry.

The owner of Alfa 91.3 in Mexico City in 1991 heard my cassette with my promos and he asked me, “Do you have equipment at home?” I was like, “What do you mean with equipment?” He took me to the production studio and I thought that it was NASA !!! Haha! I was 18 years old and in high school at the time. Back then Clemente Serna, the owner of the station Alfa 91.3 said, “You can work with me for 3 months, I don’t think you are going to last and maybe it is not going to like you.”

26 years later I love to press the play button (Key) to start a promo!!!

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