10 Questions with ... Robert "Hollywood" Rhodes
September 15, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
On-air: WTJM/New York, WJMN/Boston, WWKX/Providence, KWRD/Dallas
Production Director: WJLB/Detroit, WYLD New Orleans, SJS Entertainment
1) What sort of things are you working on these days?
Currently I am the Production Director for Radio One/Dallas properties 97.9 The Beat and Boom 94.5. In addition to the radio job, I also voicetrack a radio station in Missoula, MT, Heat 106.3. Meanwhile I a voice talent for ESPN and I am also the executive producer of a soon to be syndicated hip-hop show.
2) So how did you make the transition from being a Production Director and Air Personality to what you are doing now?
It's really been a combination of both. My focus was like most youngsters in radio, "I gotta get on the air" -- until that first time I was fired. I knew to stay in this business I had to have another skill. Tony Gray got me the Production Director gig at WYLD and I've been in a production studio ever since. When my family and I moved here eight years ago I was voicetracking my show from home on Sirius until the XM takeover. After that I focused solely on VO and production.
3) You and I talked about your impressive overall resume. Has your experience ever worked against you?
Sure it has. I've had a few programmers over the last few years tell me, "We can't pay you New York money." One PD asked me, "Why would you want to work here? You are over-qualified." People assume just because I worked at a lot of big stations that I won't stay or I'm looking for a prime shift. The truth is that I didn't get into this business for the money, it's strictly for the love of radio.
4) You grew up near NY City. What was it like listening to the radio back then?
It was like listening to a party all the time, Whether it was Mr. Magic and the Rap Attack on BLS, Pacos' Supermix on 92KTU or Ken Webb and Jeff Fox on Kiss, I was all in! I still have tapes that I made from those days. Growing up in New Haven, New York was right down the street and I listened 24/7.
5) We share some of the same acquaintances in this business, one especially, Quincy McCoy. Could you and would you tell me one of your favorite stories about Q?
My favorite was the first time we met. Q just got the PD gig at BLS. At the time I was a production assistant. Quincy came into the studio and introduced himself and asked me where else I worked and have I been on the air. I told him I worked in New Orleans and Boston, etc. He tells me, "Give me a tape." I say, "Yeah sure, I'll get that to you," not really taking it seriously. A couple days go by and he asks me again and I yeah-yeah him again. By the end of the week he sees me in the hall and says, "Look MF, you better get me a tape today or you're done!" By this time I had been through so much stress and drama there that I was planning to leave anyway. Before I went to lunch, I went to his office with tape in hand. Quincy was having a meeting with Jerry Clifton so I dropped off my aircheck and walked away. I heard him start my aircheck and before I could get down the hall he yells after me, "Hollywood! Can you do a shift today? I need you to fill in for Frankie Crocker!" I held afternoon drive for over two years. Needless to say, at 24, it was one of the highlights of my career. Thanks Q!
6) How can production help market a radio or TV station?
Production for radio and television is about the same. In radio it's all about what you put in between the records simply because nine times out of 10, your competition is playing the same music you are. Therefore I try to make the commercial break sound as interesting as possible to get people back to the music and keep the money flowing.
7) What's your goal within the next two years? And, what steps are you taking to get there?
Just to keep doing what I'm doing. My main focus is network TV voiceover today. I audition every day. I also work every day on my internet radio brand. I love voice over and still love radio. That won't change in two years.
8) Your Quincy McCoy story was great. How about telling us some of the best lessons you ever learned concerning production, using your voice, and being on the air as a jock?
On-air, Quincy taught me how to be a personality, how to talk to and with listeners. It's just radio, not brain surgery, have fun! In the production room just keep it simple but hot! Stay on the cutting edge but remember you're selling a product so your message has to be clear, not drowning it in effects. As a voice talent my job is to relay the message of the client as if I owned the product or service.
9) Who are some of the people that have influenced your career?
In radio: Quincy McCoy, Michael Saunders, Frankie Blue, Tony Gray, Broadway Bill Lee, Sunny Joe White and Frankie Crocker
Voiceover: Pat Garret, Eric Edwards, John Garry, Zurek, Sandy Thomas and Joe Cipriano (another Connecticut guy)
10) What types of equipment would you recommend when building a studio at home?
It all depends on what you want to do and your budget, but you can get started for under $1,000. For me as a voice talent, the microphone, preamp and computer are the most important. I still do concert, club spots and radio promos. I use Cubase Windows-based system from Europe for most of the spots I produce. If strictly a voice talent, a good mic and preamp and a program like Adobe Audition is good
What are your challenges with work and in the industry?
One of my biggest challenges is time there just doesn't seem to be enough time in the day. I constantly shift between doing radio production and TV voiceover every day so it's very difficult to try to balance the two in a 24 hour period. The other challenge is dealing with the current state of the industry and trying not to let it affect my approach. The thing that concerns me about radio today is that jocks, music and presentation sound the same from coast to coast. There used to be great programmers who were also great teachers of the craft. Radio needs more mentors who teach the art of the craft. Even in this social media and PPM arena, you can still let your personality and not just your Twitter feed shine through.