10 Questions with ... Pat Garrett
April 15, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Started at my first station in Ocean City, Maryland at 17 years old. I was hired to do weekend overnights and run American Top 40 with Casey Kasem. Then when I was 18, I got hired by Jan Jeffries at B104 in Baltimore to run American Top 40 and do swing shifts. I decided to save my parents a lot of money by not going to college. Then in the summer of 1983 I took an overnight shift at WZYQ (Z104). I was also running up and down the highways, doing fill-in at the adjacent markets around Baltimore and Washington. Then in the fall of 1983, Randy Kabrich hired me to do weekends on WAVA; it was a new Top 40. They rushed so fast to get it on the air, they were playing vinyl live on the air. I bounced around from station to station; did some time with WMKR/Baltimore that was the Hot Hits format. Then in 1987 got a night guy position at WGHT which is a Dance station now, Magic 95-9. It was consulted by Emmis and Joel Salkowitz; the station sounded bigger than it should have. We had Rick Allen doing all the imaging and Billy Moore was the station voice.
During that time, I became fascinated with the production process after being inspired by Rick's work. I started buying my own equipment and putting stuff together and got pretty good at it. I decided the production end of the business is where it was for me. I was an okay DJ, but would never be a guy like Kane or a Rick Dees. So I applied for a job at my first Urban station, WDJY (Hot 100-FM) in DC. The station was trying to take on WPGC which was already #1. We had great imaging from Bumper Morgan. The station had a great on-air staff as well; BEEJ in the Morning was the morning guy and PD. We just couldn't take on PGC then; that the station was undefeatable. After a little over a year, they decided to flip it to Urban AC and go after WMMJ; that didn't work either, so then we settled for Smooth Jazz, which did work. By then I had been let go because they just didn't need a guy who could make lasers and stutters. I got noticed by Don Kelly who recommended me to WXYV (V103) in Baltimore and got to work with Roy Sampson, a great PD . I was there for eight years until in 1996, I decided to go out on my own. I haven't looked back ever since.
I have a link to some audio, CLICK to hear some of the radio I just described.
1) In one way or another you've either worked at or voiced things in a lot of formats, haven't you?
I started out voicing only Urban formats; my first clients were WJLB and WGCI because Steve Hegwood and Elroy came to visit Arbitron and heard my stuff on V103. They liked the energy and drive. Also, they were amazed at the turnaround; we were FedExing tapes in those days.
2) How did you get started with your business?
It started with one station, then two, then three, and just built from there. What really propelled it was working with Steve Streit and Darren Davis at WASH FM. I did the voice work for WASH for seven years and that got me exposed to other formats.
3) What's a typical work day life for you?
No day is typical anymore in this business. One national contest comes down and bam, you're slammed for hours. But I usually start at 8a and wrap it up by 6p. However I am tethered by checking my e-mail after hours and if a PD is in a jam, I'll cut something late at night. You have to be flexible in this business to survive and I get that.
4) Any advice for those who want to be Production Directors or do what you do?
I say do it for the love of it and the rest will follow.
5) Do you see a difference in working with PDs today as opposed to the past?
PDs today are stretched so thin that the interaction with all talent, especially voice talent, is none. I get hired by PDs, work for them for years but never get a chance to even speak with them. Most of the time if I need a pronunciation, I'll call the client or call the receptionist (if they have one) and chat with her to get a correct pronunciation. I also encourage all my PDs to do phone patches on important copy. It makes for a better result because I am performing for them, not a computer screen.
6) Who are some of the people who have influenced your career?
There are some many people who have helped or inspired me, so I'll list as many as I can: Jan Jeffries, Roy Sampson, Steve Hegwood, Elroy Smith, Darren Davis, Dave Labrozzi, Dr Dave Ferguson, Rick Allen, Steve Swenson, Jim Farley, Rick Thomas, Jhani Kaye, a great agent Nate Zeitz at CESD and a good friend of mine, Jason Kidd -- he's rolling out a hot new format that is the next evolution of Classic Hits. I helped him with the imaging you should check it out at getsmashhits.com! I am really excited for him.
7) Do you have a favorite radio memory ... something you either heard growing up or something you participated in?
There are so many stories and memories but one comes to mind when I was at V103. 92Q started coming on strong so we did a stunt on the morning show with Randy and Jean to make it sound like we were changing format; we even played Boyz II Men "So Hard To Say Goodbye." The song ends, there's dead air, static, then an explosion. Randy gets on the mic and says we're not packing it in, we're whipping it out, be the 103rd call and win 10 grand! That was the kind of resources we had back then.
8) Would you ever jock again?
I would but only as a guest or a fill-in. I voicetracked a shift for a client a year ago and it was tough. I have a lot of respect for talent that's voicetracking multiple stations and doing a live shift as well. It ain't easy!
9) What's your opinion on the future of radio and Urban radio?
Urban radio is still very healthy because they stay in touch with the community and that's what it's all about ... interaction. Other formats can benefit by doing the same as well; 10,000 songs in a row gets old when no one is live, telling people about a hot new club or a new restaurant or even what to wear that day.
10) If a genie in a bottle gave you three wishes, what would they be and why?
If it were a "radio genie," I would wish for reverb and hot processing on every station, 24/7 live talent, and the ability to fire a sweeper and song at the same time without interrupting the flow of the music..
What frustrates you the most about radio?
The lack of communication with talent -- voice talent, especially. We all need direction; that's why movies have directors because talent needs direction. They just don't set a camera up and say "act!" Everyone needs direction. When I get that from my clients they get the best possible result.
What's your fascination with William Shatner?
Well, I've been a Star Trek fan since I was seven, but my fascination with Shatner in Star Trek was initially a huge failure. I've read his bio many times and he admits the scripts were not always the best and he had to juice them up by overacting trying to make something out of nothing, and I can relate to that because in radio each and everyone of us is asked to do that everyday.
What do you see yourself doing in the future?
Hopefully, this! I love what I do
How did you get your professional name?
When I was at OC 104, I didn't think my real name was cool enough so I sat down with the late great Brian Carter and he gave me two choices China Jones or Pat Garrett. I went with option 2.