10 Questions with ... Charlie Ray
September 6, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I'm a voiceover performer, copywriter, producer and air personality with 25 years experience in Southern California. Strangely, I've done very little moving around -- three full-time positions in 25 years ... and all within a 35-mile radius! I started at the late, great KCKC-KBON/San Bernardino in 1986, moved to mornings at Y102/Victorville, and I spent the last 10 years back in San Bernardino at K-FROG, 95.1 ... until the corporate office at CBS did a little thinning of the herd. I've also done a ton of agency work.
Currently I'm doing independent production, agency voiceovers, and quietly plotting my revenge.
1) How are you occupying your time, besides looking for a job?
Drafting suicide notes! Actually, in one way it's been good for me. I'm starting up a small production business, which I should have done years ago. I've been listening for poorly written and/or produced ads on local radio, redoing them, and selling them to the advertisers directly. In my first month-and-a-half, I've picked up several clients. I'll definitely keep at that.
On a personal level, I'm a musician (www.charlie-raymusic.com) so I've had extra time for that, and for spending time with my wife and kids.
2) Some people get discouraged or enlightened with the business when they actually step out of it for a while. Tell us your observations from the outside.
Radio has changed a LOT over the years and, mostly, not for the better. The whole corporate mentality has made it less interesting both to work in AND to listen to. I hear a lot of cookie-cutter, shut-up-and-play-the hits radio.
(Of course, I don't mean YOUR station, Mr. Potential Employer...)
3) Do you plan on sticking with radio?
Yes. It hasn't always been good to me, but it's what I do. And when it's good, it's very good. To be honest, one of the biggest obstacles in losing my job was loss of identity -- I've always been the guy on the radio. At first I had a lot of "Who am I now?" moments. I can't see myself becoming the "bank teller guy."
4) What's the longest stretch you've had on the beach?
This is it, by far. CBS laid me off two weeks before Christmas. :(
5) What has been your best resource for finding out about job openings?
AllAccess.com, plus calls to former co-workers and contacts.
6) How are you finding the "courtesy level" at places you've applied? (Callbacks, e-mails, rejection letters, etc.)
Nonexistent! Except for PDs who I know or have dealt with before, in all the ads I've answered on AllAccess (often with follow-up e-mails) I have received very few responses. Offhand, I can only remember two automated "thank you for applying" letters, from CBS and from Lund radio.
7) With consolidation there are definitely fewer jobs. How do you separate yourself from the pack?
Experience and skill level. I've been around the block a few times and I'm very good at what I do. As a copywriter and producer there are few better. (Hey, this is no time to be modest!) As a jock, I'm an excellent communicator, and I really connect with a grown-up audience. Top 40 wouldn't be the best fit for me, but Oldies and Country have listeners who I can totally relate to ... and vise-versa.
8) Are you spending as much time listening to radio as you used to?
Recently, yes -- to find lousy ads to fix! For pleasure, probably about the same as when I was working. The only difference now is that I'm more likely to screamm "How the hell did THAT guy get a job?!" at the radio.
9) Is there anything specific that you regret doing while you were still working?
Growing complacent. Not appreciating what I had, and settling into my niche instead of stretching. When you're new, you tend to volunteer for everything, try everything and promote yourself at every opportunity ... and I tended to let that slide over my years in radio. There are always new worlds to conquer if you look for them.
10) Where do you see yourself in five years? 10 years?
Writing and producing. It's what I do best and what interests me most. I'll develop the business I've started and continue to add to my independent writing, producing and voicing. As far as being an air personality in 10 years ... it depends. "Liner card" radio pays the bills, but it's certainly not something I hope to see myself doing in a decade. However, a show with content and personality ... something to spark my creativity ... that will always appeal to me.
What great movies have you seen recently?
I've been catching up on a lot of Netflix. I think Duncan Jones is a really interesting new director. His debut, Moon, was the best (only?) serious sci-fi I've seen in years, and Source Code was hugely entertaining. The main premise was beyond ridiculous, but still, it really worked as a movie. And I've been catching up on too many classics to mention. (Okay, I'll mention one -- The General, with Buster Keaton. Just saw it for the first time on blu-ray and loved it!)