Iron Imager 2016 or MEET the Champ

11109192_819167371464287_6276380270561890516_oNot long ago I met DK in NYC and we had time to hang out for a while. The belt was sitting right over Dan’s console and I am sure he will do his best to defend it again! Question is as the stakes are high and the contender is strong – WILL HE BE ABLE TO? Learn more about Dan’s work at WPLJ and NASH, see what he is up to at the moment and how he sees the NYC market considering imaging after Dave Foxx left Z100. Enter Dan:

Did you use new plugIns lately?

I have to say, and I feel lame about it, that I hardly ever use new plug-ins. The last new plug-in that I thought was cool was probably Speakerphone. Other than that, I really don’t go exploring for new plug-ins these days. It’s probably because I don’t feel the need. I have my basic EQs (Renaissance EQ), compressor (L1 and sometimes Massey L2007) and mastering/final EQ/comp (Izotope Ozone 6)…What else do I need?
I don’t want to lose the message in my production and go nuts, so I guess I just like to keep it simpler. I’m sure there’s cool stuff out there, but I haven’t explored yet. But it’s better to just save up good will and ask for things you really need. Like new hardware! (which leads into question #2)

What Pro Tools version are you on now? What is your new favorite functions?

1780161_637911932923166_3628634627187815130_oIn 2004-ish I got a brand new ProTools HD system, running on a G5, with (I believe) 3 DSP cards in it. It was beautiful, even with that 700 lb tank G5! I came to a point though, where I couldn’t update the OS anymore because it may not work with ProTools, so I got stuck. I think I was on OS 10.5.11 and ProTools 7.3HD for years. And the system slowly got clunky and weird. Anybody who’s done ProTools upgrades knows what a major nightmare this can be and I was really concerned something would get screwed up and I’d be unable to work.

But it became more and more necessary. In 2014 I was OK’ed to get a new system, which thanks to a recommendation from one of our engineers, we got down pretty low in price. So I’m now running ProTools 11.3 on a beefed up MacMini on OS 10.10. It’s pretty mind blowing to see what a MacMini does compared to that 2004 G5. It’s insane. Hey it’s a computer, and there’s some occasional glitchy stuff, but overall it’s incredible.

My favorite feature by far – is OFFLINE BOUNCE. I feel like I waited my whole life to be able to use that. It’s kinda changed my life, bouncing faster than real time. I never could quite figure out why Adobe Audition could do this for years when ProTools couldn’t.  And you wouldn’t think you’d need this for shorter pieces, but I use it for everything. Because of the way my studio was set up, I would always dub my production out of ProTools, through the console into Adobe Audition. It seems archaic, but I was just used to it. And if it made the audio dirty at all, I didn’t realize it or made it sound good. (I hope)…
Now I just offline bounce, making a WAV for Op-X (automation) and MP3 to keep/send air checks, etc at the SAME TIME. The little checkbox to “MAKE MP3″… I’m in love with it. To think I used to first make a wav, then save an MP3. Now it’s automatic. And then I just use Dropbox to transfer over to my PC. When you make a stager with an intro and a 2 minute bed, it takes a few seconds to bounce. I can’t even fathom doing it the old way anymore. Good lord, the old way….like finding sound effects and imaging FX on CD’s and recording them real time into sessions! Oh wait…I actually used to do that!

Also, clip gain is a life saver. That was introduced before PT11, but I didn’t have it since I was stuck on 7.3. Being able to adjust a whole region of audio without a plug-in is beautiful. I know PT11 does a lot of other stuff, but I rarely need it.

New FX packs you utilized?

I’m still pretty obsessed with Jeff Schmidt’s AIFX2. It’s so multipurpose and perfect sounding. I have a lot to choose from in my FX folder, but I’m going back to that a LOT. Hoping he’ll put out AIFX3 soon. 🙂

What is the USP of PLJ these days sound wise?462581_499292043451823_1482811559_o

If you mean the “Unique Selling Proposition”, the message is pretty simple these days. We’re just “New York’s 95-5 PLJ‘….That’s it. No slick slogan. We’re so used to them as radio people, but I’m pretty sure they go right through listeners’ ears. What’s most important about the imaging is the writing and the attitude. Our PD, Gillette, writes the copy these days and he’s always writing fun, clever, slightly atittudey, sometimes flirty, relatable stuff that hopefully just connects with New Yorkers. That’s the goal.
I write for Nash-FM, where the idea is the same.
Then we just have to present the name and message in a way where that message doesn’t get lost. If I can make the message sound fun or slick without overdoing the production and the listener hears what we’re saying…and then hopefully makes them feel something… get a laugh or feel sad… then I’ve done my job. I love that about this job. Every promo or sweeper is really a little story and I love trying to bring each one to life with it’s own style. Sometimes it doesn’t happen as easily as we’d like, but that’s always the goal. And I’d rather take a chance doing something that’s funny or a little unusual rather than doing something boring. It took me a while to realize that, but I’d always rather choose to make the work memorable.

As you are in NYC, do you have any idea who will replace Dave Foxx on Z100?

Wow. Talk about big shoes to fill. I honestly have no idea. Last I heard there still wasn’t anybody chosen. I’m sure whoever it is will know the history of the station and follow in Dave’s (Master Yoda’s) footsteps while bringing his or her own unique style to the table.

Finally, Iron Imager – You are the undefeated reigning champ, what do you love about the contest and who do you want as a contestant?

920071_499292233451804_1717649832_oIron Imager is a great contest. I mean hey, where else do imaging guys get to compete like this in front of radio people? It’s a ton of fun. And pressure! It’s a little nerve wracking. Neither one of us know what we’ll be working on til minutes before, then just having that ONE HOUR…it’s challenging. More challenging than people realize.

I think (call me crazy) that most people, who don’t do what we do don’t realize, how difficult, precise, tedious and time consuming it is. In a perfect world, you’d like 2-3 hours or more to work on one promo. But that’s just not always possible these days. Well in IRON IMAGER, it’s all you got. At least it’s already written and voiced…but still – working under that pressure is intense. Plus you’re out of your element…working on headphones…with people watching. It’s kinda crazy. But also lots of fun. And having a reason to go to L.A. is always good. So I look forward to it again and hoping I can win a fourth time!

I found out my opponent will be Sidey from Triple M Rock in Sydney, Australia. I can’t say I know the bloke, but I’m sure he’s a good dude and very talented. No matter who wins, as long as we do our best and enjoy it, that’s all you can ask for. Oh man. It’s only a few weeks away! Hopefully I’ll be ready. 🙂

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