False Endings, Audition and Whiskey – Enter Matt Haeger
Matt is the leading guy for imaging at Entercom and has years and years of experience in various markets. He loves Adobe and one of his coaches was our all star buddy buddy and cross fit beast Mike Santos. (Andy: Man I need to reach out to Mike, haven’t spoken to him for so long.)
Learn to create false ends, his ways to get creative and more!
Enter Matt Haeger!
Matt, where do you come from and how did you get in touch with radio?
I’m originally from the suburbs of Chicago. I was working the drive-thru at McDonald’s when a woman came through and told “high school me” that I had a nice voice and should go into radio. Since I had no clue of what I wanted to do with my life prior to that moment, I caved to peer pressure and made it so. Des Moines, Green Bay (a bit of Milwaukee) and Denver is the extent of my market history. I’m married to a wonderful woman (who happens to work in radio), we have a super-cool daughter and I love football, concerts at Red Rocks, wine, Legos, cooking, travelling, golf, Star Wars, and whiskey.
How is the new role?
The new role is… exactly that: new! Since the position was just created & I’m fortunate enough to be “the guy”, it’s exciting to lay the foundation for what’s to come. It is a little strange being in an office as opposed to a studio, but luckily I was able to trade a mic & board for a window to the outside world. Who knew sunshine was a thing?!
So far the highlight of the new position has been getting to know all of our markets and production teams. A theme that will run through everything I do and every initiative I roll out, is to create a better sense of community within the Entercom production world. We all have a lot in common – similar successes, similar frustrations – but most importantly we all love the creative process and delivering exceptional results for our clients and partners.
What is different than before?
The biggest change personally is not doing actual production on a daily basis. 2 months ago it was day-in and day-out sessions and copy writing. Now it’s all about uniting our production departments, encouraging market-to-market collaboration and truly elevating the level of creative production at Entercom.
What production system do you use and why?
I use Adobe Audition. When I was doing imaging for Entercom Denver I was using version 3. I’m using the Creative Cloud version now. I personally feel Audition is perfectly suited for radio production. It’s got the bells and whistles you want, you can work really fast if needed, and it’s reliable.
Any favorite imaging trick everybody should use?
I love creating “false endings” on music tracks in promos as opposed to letting something fade out. Mike Santos taught me a few things, including that trick. The TrueVerb plugin from Waves really made that easy.
And it’s not a trick but more of a tip… Make sure you’re lining up beats to create seamless (or as seamless as possible) transitions from song to song, especially in music imagers. Understanding rhythm & tempo is big for me.
What are your favorite PlugIns?
How do you get creative? What are the resources for creativity?
That’s a great question. Frankly I think it’s as easy as making time for being creative. When I would get stuck on copy for a promo, if I had to write 20-30 sweepers for a feature or if I had to come up with some possible names for an event, I had to make time for the right thoughts and ideas to come to me. I’d grab a legal pad, move away from my desk/board, sit somewhere else and focus. If you have time, a conducive space and maybe a few other creative people to brainstorm, that can be all the resources you need.
How is a typical day looking?
When I came into the position, I told my superiors I wanted to listen first. I wanted to take the pulse of the Entercom production world. So I spend a lot more time on the phone now than I ever did in any previous position – luckily I really like the sound of my own voice. I spent an hour on the phone with each of our markets listening to what they thought worked, what didn’t, where are we winning, where are frustrations.
We’re in unexplored territory as this is new to Entercom. What I’m doing today will probably be different from what I’m doing in a year. Like I mentioned: we’re laying the ground work for the future and so what I/we choose to focus on now will have a large impact on what’s to come. Let’s make sure we’re using vCreative to its maximum potential. Let’s make sure we set up a system for sharing ideas. These are projects I’m working on now. And I can’t do it alone which is why I’m so thankful for the Production Directors and their teams across our markets – they’re the best in the business.
Who were your biggest influences? What is the most important thing you ever learned from one of your mentors?
I’m going to blame Tony Lorino & Scott Allen for a lot of who I am today as a radio professional. Sorry boys. It’s on you.
A lot of lessons I (thankfully) learned early on, starting in Des Moines at Saga. I learned to always have an idea ready if you were going to naysay someone else’s. I learned (shocker!) I didn’t know everything and it was okay to ask for help and advice. I learned you could build someone up while still managing a problem or tough situation. I also learned you shouldn’t do a 2 and a half minute break to say goodbye to the market, especially if you’re just a weekender.
When I moved to Green Bay and worked for Cumulus, I learned to become indispensable.
Now I’ve been with Entercom for 7 years and the lessons keep coming. I happen to be married to one of the finest programmers/talents in the business – Sam Hill – and she’s an incredible source of advice.
Bottom line: you’re never too old or too experienced to learn something new or grow as a person.
Your advice for a youngster entering the game?
Work hard, ask questions, learn everything and make yourself indispensable.
Thanks for this great interview, Matt!