10 Questions with ... Stu Jacobs
April 29, 2013
1) What got you interested in the radio and the music industries?
Having received a degree in Chemical Engineering, it was economically a difficult time to find a job. To make ends meet, I took a job delivering for a liquor store. Some of the liquor store's clients were concert promoters who tipped me by providing backstage passes to the shows. I met the guys who did the house sound and they taught me about mixing sound and consoles. I fell in love with it and it was goodbye Chemical Engineering.
2) Can you please give us a brief synopsis of your career?
I started doing tape mastering for Superscope and one of their clients was AFRTS (Armed Forces Radio and Television Service). We were doing cassettes of syndicated radio shows to play on ships and some of those shows were Bob Kingsley (doing Classic Rock!) Casey Kasem's "American Top-40 Show" and Charlie Tuna among others.
After doing these shows for a while, I was offered a job by Drake-Chenault Enterprises. (Bill Drake was the father of "Boss Radio" in the 60's) and Gene Chenault doing production for their automated formats, and once again there was Bob Kingsley (doing Country now).
From there, I worked as an engineer for Watermark (owned by former Boss Radio jock Tom Rounds). I would be engineering Casey Kasem's "American Top-40" and Bob Kingsley's "American Country Countdown" (now known as "CT40"). While I was at Watermark, I had the privilege to work with other legendary radio folks like Robert W. Morgan, Gary Owens and Murray the K.
3) How did Mr. Master come to be?
After leaving Watermark, I noticed there was a need for networks to get their shows mastered for CD replication. Nobody was doing CD mastering for radio so I found a niche area and the name Mr. Master born. It evolved from there by taking those masters and having them replicated and then eventually doing the duplication and distribution in house.
4) How did you get involved with content delivery to radio?
The obvious end result of engineering radio shows was getting them to the radio stations for airplay. As part of that process, I had started by running reel-to-reel show tapes over to a vinyl disc mastering house where they were eventually pressed on disc and mailed to radio stations across the country. Over time, that process evolved into CD distribution. I mastered the radio shows onto Sony 1630 tapes in order to do replication by an outside vendor that mailed them out to the affiliates.
This process changed when CD-R's (recordable CDs) made their debut. I then duplicated CD-R's and mailed them to the affiliates. The only thing that had not changed in this whole distribution evolution chain was that it all involved snail mail. With the demands of advertisers to get timely spots on the air and listeners' desire to get the latest content available, the mail distribution model had to change. The end result was "MediaShooterPro" and digital content delivery.
5) How has "MediaShooterPro" changed the digital distribution model?
Before MediaShooterPro, distributions were happening via FTP sites putting the burden on stations to pull down the correct copy which often led to mistakes. MediaShooterPro enables network radio to do spot copy splits and blackouts effectively by automatically delivering only the spots that a station really needs. No longer was it necessary to go get your content, as we delivered it. We also introduced the ability to do copy splits and customization of long form programming. We can take a commercial free show, merge the correct copy split spots into the show and create a unique commercial show for every station on a distribution list complete with customized liners for the station.
6) Mr. Master recently launched "Media Shooter 2.0," please tell us about this new version and some of the features of this updated service?
We are very proud of "MediaShooterPro2." It has taken our delivery mechanism to the next level. It communicates to the user and back to us the status of all distributions sent to a station. Stations get detailed information E-mailed when a distribution is in route. Once the content is delivered, an E-mail is also generated letting them know that as well. There are windows to show the exact delivery time, size, and location of their files on their network.
The most important part of "MediaShooterPro2" is our auxiliary software that we call A.I.M. or "Automation Import Manager." A.I.M. enables stations to automatically import content from our delivery directly into any automation system. It will normalize, convert, re-name, add appropriate header information, add cart numbers and place the content directly into the automation system on user determined schedule. Networks can be assured that the latest revised content will air correctly as it can be placed into the system on the air date if needed.
One of the best features of A.I.M. is that it will also automatically reconcile and automatically post affidavits by reporting the exact airtimes back to the network provider.
From production to traffic, the time saving benefits from A.I.M. will be immense. For the networks the benefits of getting accurate timely data back from stations is huge. This will be a true win-win for all concerned.
7) What is it that makes Mr. Master's service unique from other services that deliver syndicated programming?
Well, I think the main difference between Mr. Master and other delivery services is the fact that we understand the needs of radio. We have always emphasized the point that we are not just software people. We are RADIO people. All of us at Mr. Master, have extensive radio experience and know the importance of each job at a station. With that knowledge, we are always trying to improve our product.
8) What do you view as the most important issue facing radio and the music industry today?
Radio is facing lots of competition from many sources. The consumer has more options today than in anytime in radio's history to hear their content. Having said that, radio needs to define it's place among these sources to survive. Radio needs to give that personalized feeling that a consumer can't get from their playlists. New music depends on radio to get it out there to create that spark!
9) Where do you see the industry and yourself five years from now?
Five years from now, the current state of distribution of all media will not be the same. The digital world will firmly have its grip on this, and I plan on Mr. Master being involved. Taking our current business model and developing it out to other media as well as keeping up with the new demands of radio should keep me busy for a while.
10) What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
I think if you stay dedicated to your beliefs as to what is the right thing to do, you cannot go wrong. You will make mistakes along the way but that is how you learn.