Get the best ones in the game as mentor and…
Australia seems like a radio imaging talent factory. Every other week I have the pleasure to see another producer from Australia inspiring me and my work. To me it comes down to one significant point: The big dudes like Konsky, Nikolic, Dower, BT, Sidey etc… recognize talent and do their best to boost it and make the guys grow.
One amazing imaging producer, who used to work for 2DayFM and now is making noise at Nova is Dan Pearson. Check out his incredible work, learn from his screen caps and enjoy the interview. Cheers, Andy.
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1. First of all, tell us a bit about your career.
I’ve been working in radio for approximately 11 years now. After school, I studied sound engineering at SAE and once completed, worked as a casual at SAFM in Adelaide. I then moved to 2DayFM/MMM in Sydney when I was 21 to work under Brendan Taylor as a production Assistant. After a few years a new role was created at Nova 969 as National nights producer which I moved into and stayed in for approx 5 years. I’ve now been Production Manager here for about 2 years.
2. Which production system do you use and why?
MAC – PRO TOOLS HD – Version 8 /
Digidesign Pro Control 8 Fader Master Controller
Digidesign Pre 8 Channel Mic Preamp
Our studios were setup when Nova was first launched approx. 12 years ago now and overall are quite comfortable. It’s a creative environment with a great view so we are lucky.
3. What are your favorite plugIns (including screenshots)?
H-Delay – Clean analog sounding delays (presets to keep you busy for days)
Waves tune – Accurate pitch correction
The Mouth – Great vocal effects
4. How do you schedule your work (priorities…)?
Prioritization is such an important part of my role. Knowing what part of the station or team needs your attention and when, is something that comes a lot easier after years of experience. Obviously, my outlook calendar and diary are used a lot. Blocking time out in my calendar and as a rule forcing myself to stick to time frames really helps.
5. What do you love about being the head of production @ Nova?
I really enjoy hearing work from people, who are young and talented, that makes me sit back and go wow … He/she is doing something that I wouldn’t thought to do. Placing a drop/grab/piece of music somewhere that isn’t just the norm. Being inspired by my fellow team members is great, it makes me work harder. Never being satisfied with what you’re doing is a good thing. I try and make sure, I’m learning a new thing every week and in radio this can keep you busy for a lifetime. Obviously in CHR radio production there are rules, usually given by our program directors… but we can twist and manipulate these rules to create new sounds and techniques that haven’t been heard before. When one of my team members or someone who has sent me a demo of their work does this… that’s what I really love about being the head of production.
6. What is the best Pro Tools or production trick anybody should know?
It’s important to know all shortcuts and key commands Pro Tools provides us with. We are always working under time frames and pressure so anything that can help you do something quicker, in turn gives you more time and relieves pressure. Using the smart tools F6/F7/F8 (grouped) are just a small example of working quicker and more efficiently.
7. How do you get inspired and what do you use as source of creativity?
Music inspires me, all styles and genres. Hearing tricks, new music producers are using, plug-ins they are using.
Movie trailers — their dramatic orchestral scores and timing.
A great script is always a good start too.
8. Who were your radio production idols, who influenced your work as a producer?
Eddie Bye – Eddie was image producer at SAFM and taught me the basics from the start, he has given so much of his time too many great producers over the years and I know a lot of people have him to thank for their radio careers.
Sideshow Mike Anderson – Sideshow mentored me when I was at MMM and taught me a lot. He is such a creative talented guy and to be around him as a young producer I feel very lucky.
Brendan Taylor – Brendan brought me to Sydney and really was the person who showed me the way. From being a young kid and seeing him work when he was Production Director at 2DayFM, to now where he is my Program Director. An amazing audio producer but also the person who taught me that being an audio producer isn’t just sitting in a dark room making a promo.
9. What would be your 3 key advice for a youngster?
Listen to all types of music, and play an instrument. The more you know about music and the workings of it, the more creative you’ll be.
Listen to radio a lot, study where every element sits and why.
Be prepared to put in the time, but be rewarded in the long run.
10. How competitive is the environment in Australia? What do you guys at Nova try to set yourself apart?
It’s quite competitive, I know a lot of audio producers who are looking for full-time work but all the senior positions in Australia are filled. Our jobs are obviously very niche.
You couldn’t say there is whole lot of junior positions out there for young audio producers, it’s hard to ask them to put in the hundreds of hours training to not be guaranteed a good full-time position. That’s one of the challenging parts of my job, finding new talent that is willing to put in the time.
At Nova we really try and do the simple things well. Making our messages really clear, and our on-air talent shine through. Each market is slightly different but in Sydney we have a relatively new breakfast show so getting them heard as much as possible is a priority. I’m always making sure our promos either contain a great piece of content that makes you laugh or cry and has energy and emotion throughout.