10 Questions with ... Ryan Drean
July 29, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- 1998 - 1999 - College radio at Colorado State University - Go RAMS! (90.5 KCSU).
- 2000 - 2001 - KWAB, Boulder (first full-time gig!) Board op Morning show and then Imaging Director and Commercial Production plus some high school sports play by play.
- 2001 - 2002 - KJAM, South Dakota, Sports - Play by Play and Afternoons on "Jammin' Country" (first experience with Country Radio)
- 2002 - 2006 - Clear Channel, Sussex NJ. Afternoons, CHR. Middays, Oldies. Fill-in, Classic Rock. Imaging all stations plus others outside the market.
- 2006-2012 - KSCS, Dallas. Imaging/Production Director.
- 2012 - Present - Creative Dir. TM Studios/Dial Global.
- "Ryan on the Radio" - Started 2002 or so and has been going and growing ever since! (Audio Branding, Voice over services)
1) Congratulations on the launch of 360 Country! Can you give us a snapshot of the service?
Thanks! It's a Country Branding service. We have incorporated all the stuff from an Imaging "service" along with sonic imaging tools like regularly updated jingles, music and audio logos. I wanted to create a service with 2 or 3 in one but more importantly one where all the tools sonically fit together. You don't just use your jingles as the musical glue but the 3 note logo is found in every category. Its PPM friendly in the way we've structured everything and they gave me A LOT of resources to get extremely talented people to compose, perform, mix and produce everything. There is a free zip file and I will give anyone a user account to check it out. 360.tmstudios.com
2) What was the planning for this launch like and how long?
Ricky Roo, VP Creative, and I first discussed the possibilities of a new type of service back in mid-2011. At the time we were just chatting. I loved my gig at KSCS and had no desire to leave. Then "changes" started happening in the company in the area of Sep. 2011 to Dec. 2011. I was offered this opportunity around Feb of 2012 and the timing couldn't have been better. We spent about 3 months building it and Launched in June 2012. I traveled to Nashville to record music with the actual musicians who record with all the big stars. I hired a few different country producers at GREAT stations and grabbed a few of the best sound designers to create exclusive content. I have a pretty good working knowledge of many other services. Some are very good. I took some of the good things I have seen from others plus grouped in the best ideas we have into one BIG product. Within about 3 to 4 months we went from an idea to what I think is a pretty darn useful product!
3) How has it been received so far?
The feedback has been really good and I hope to have more and more as we move forward and evolve (YES, tell me what you think, good or bad). Honestly, I didn't know what people would think. Parts of it are not like anything out there. I am asking stations to buy into a branding technique that has been very successful on TV and in large nationwide campaigns for years but not really applied at this level on radio. So I look forward to more smart programming people taking a look and please let me have your honest opinions.
4) You wear many hats in your career-from blogging to imaging etc how do you handle it all?
Poorly. No, I enjoy it. Most important to my productivity I learned, more than anything else, to be efficient in what I do. For example, for any producer, session templates are important. I like to have "templates" for a lot of things I do. Ie. producing beds, voicing imaging, creating a podcast, even writing a blog. Another thing I do is remain honest - I know that I am not the best there is so I make it a point to over-deliver, every time. I'm not self deprecating I just know where I stand. When you over-deliver every time, clients place a higher value on you or your service in regards to their product. If work piles up, they are also happy to give you time when you need it. My work is also pretty good so they keep me around ;) Perhaps a more technical answer to this would be Google. I use most of their products all the time.
5) What part of your career do you like best?
Best? If I have a bunch of different jobs come in, I like the CHR VO. I am very comfortable with it. But, producing imaging is still so fun. I love to work with copy I didn't write, a VO track I didn't voice and work-parts I didn't create to produce something totally new that is both entertaining and effective. I also love good writing (not that I generate much of it). But it may be the most frustrating thing on earth to do well.
6) You were hired once at KSCS as their Imaging Director-did that launch your career?
I would say yes, it offered me the most opportunities. I truly feel like my career started when Dave Skinner and Chuck Lontine hired me in Boulder at KWAB. They paid me well, treated me great and never said no. Without that job showing me how epic working in Radio could be, I don't know what I would be doing today. The KSCS gig gave me the most ethos. And I certainly worked with a couple of the smartest Country programmers EVER in that building. I learned more and advance my skills further there than anywhere else. I am really proud of what we did there, especially in the last year of my tenure.
7) Tell us about some of the various stations that you do imaging for-do you do many formats?
I work with stations all over and in many formats. BUT I primarily focus on contemporary formats (COUNTRY, CHR, HOT AC, ADULT CHR, ETC). Some I Voice, Produce and some I do both. I have stations in Phoenix, San Antonio, Sacramento, Honolulu, Bend, Huntington, Sconny and others all over the place. I love the variety. I run slim on time to take on many full-blown imaging production gigs anymore so I have been limiting those to higher profile situations. But I will take all comers as long as I can! I also like to make music and working at TM I literally learn something new every day. Its awesome.
8) Are you still a radio guy at heart?
Yes, I dabble in video and photography but only when it supports radio. I devote my blog and podcast to radio and I really like the people in the industry which is why I try to give them a strong platform to show off. I feel like my age group has to be the group that revolutionizes and evolves this industry into something necessary again. I don't know if radio is considered a "Utility" by many people anymore where once it was. We need to evolve Radio into a truly Unique Social Utility. I want to be part of that.
9) What are a couple of things that mentors have said to you that have always stuck with you?
"It's only radio." - Mike Flanagan, KWAB. I remember that simple phrase from when I was a youngster especially when I get frustrated or find myself not "In Love" with something related to work. No one will die if I mess up. I am not in Afghanistan dodging IED's. I don't have to show snot nosed brats how to spell 'cat'. I get to make noise EVERY Day in exchange for a handsome reward! Also, more for the newcomers but still true in some ways for everyone, "Never Say NO!" If you are trying to break into the game or want to demonstrate your value, you are NOT too good to do something. No, you are not above dubbing spots at midnight on a Sunday. No, you are not too good to hand out stickers at a Pump 'N Go in 100 degree heat. If you think you are then go somewhere else, this wont be worth it. Be the person the boss can count on.
10) What is the biggest challenge facing our industry, as you see it?
My short answer: Radio continues to disenfranchise our youth.
I'm pretty sure people are still mortal so if the amount of young, new listeners continues to decline like it is, soon all radio listeners will be dead. I have never liked that companies with signals in peril make changes based on a strategy of duplicating another format in-market instead of fragmenting them. That sounds weird but on TV they seem to have decided, when creating a new channel, they will just go after a subsection of the audience and do it best. I'm talking cable networks of course, but even CBS decided they only wanted old people watching at some point. If you super-serve women 25-29 then maybe that's better than doing a subpar job for women 25-54.
I also think we need an important technological advancement proliferated by Radio directly. Since FM, what have we really done to make people turn their heads? (Don't you dare say HD Radio) I know there are little things but when I asked this of a few sub-18 YO's I know, they had absolutely no answer. Nothing that compares to the iPhone or Tablets or Netflix or the PS3 or even specific Games and Apps. Radio is this thing they have to listen to while being driven around by adults. iHeartRadio is my favorite tech. advancement for radio in recent years but 10 million+ users of 290 million+ radio listeners - a ways to go (my numbers are based on a 2 month old PR). If it gets widely utilized it may well be the savior of radio.
Finally, and most importantly, it all comes down to content. Always. Even if Radio comes up with the next iPhone we gotta have the content. We have to be prepared for a time when car companies decide - having wifi in a car is enough, we don't need to install actual radios. I don't mean to say we are not OK right now, today. If we can do something as an industry to make young people look up from their phones long enough to say "wow, that's worth checking out," we may be OK, tomorrow.
I didn't mean to write so much I just love radio and want to see it stay around for a long time!
1) Tell us about your passion for poker
I enjoy it. Its kind of like watching Big Brother. You do it and you think something good will be derived from it but in fact you are more often than not worse for having done so. I do take it very seriously. I love it sometimes and I really like the brain exercise. There is nothing like the feeling you get on the backend of a 24 hour session in which you are still in contention for a $10K payout! I play in the WSOP every year (2012 was my 5th), 3 tourneys this past June. I am profitable, up somewhere in the 4 figures this year so far, but will never be going pro. If I ever took away the casual element I would hate it and I am NOT like the few pro friends I have. Totally different animals. BTW, I attached a pic of a hand. It was the 4th hand of Event #19 I played in this year. You may notice it shows a Royal Flush vs Quads. Most epic hand of my career and probably once in a lifetime situation. I won a bunch of chips early and sent a guy home with a story on that one ;)
2) Are you a big Texas Rangers fan?
I am! I was a Dodgers then Rockies fan up until the whole steroid mess. I stepped away from fandom for a while. When I moved here (to Dallas) the Rangers were terrible so I figured "good a time as any" to pick it up again and with a fresh team. I jump on board and a couple years later, back to back world series...You're welcome Ron.
3) What's your 'go to' guilty pleasure junk food
Chocolate Chip Cookies. I actually dislike cake and candy and ice cream but a good CCC...damn