Gavan Bruderer is a “young gun” in radio imaging production. He works at CC Salt Lake and also Images Z104. The main reason I am featuring him on this edition of 9 1/2 Questions is because he deserves it. BUT another reason is his perspective. He is still very young and has just acquired his first full-time gig in radio. I spend so much time talking to veterans who have been there and done that and most of which are at the top of the heap. Their perspective is GREAT but sometimes we all need to hear about our world from a different angle.
I remember after I had been in this business for a couple years, thinking I was all that, day to day stuff was becoming frustrating. Sales people sucked and the boss “Didn’t get it, man.” “I can’t work like this!” Then someone said, for the 10th time, “Relax, its only radio.” Finally, it stuck for me. I always remember that no matter how bad it gets its still better than so many other jobs. I think, at least for me, it was refreshing to chat with a fresh piece of talent (who drives 4 hours a day just to make noise). We all should see our world through the eyes of youth, if only every once in a while, to remind ourselves what we really get to do.
So, you are a professionally employed, full-time, radio producer (and jock?) how does it feel? Then tell us about the job you have. Company, Title, type of work you are doing, market, genre, etc etc
Yes! Finally full-time. I’m the production assistant for Clear Channel in Salt Lake City, Utah. We have 6 stations in the building, and I produce commercials for all of them. I also do a little imaging for the AC station from time to time, but most of the imaging is being handled by two other talented guys in the building, Greg Applebee and AJ Carson. I’m working with an awesome production director, Todd Carlson, who just might have one of the best commercial voices on the planet. He can tackle any read and make it sound incredible. And I used to be a freelanced voicetracking talent, but let’s be honest, I’m not meant for on-air, and it wasn’t meant for me 😉 There is no Ctrl+Z for a bad break.
While you are still young, you have also been around the “community” for quite a while. You’ve sent me tons of good audio over time and I have heard a progression for sure. There are NOT many younger people interested in producing Radio Imaging. What originally got you interested in this part of the business? Mentors?
I started out like pretty much everyone I think. I just wanted to be a DJ. Oddly enough, I enjoyed the jingles more than actually talking on the radio. Then I started hearing the jingles over the intros of songs (Reelworld’s Beatmixes) here on the station I work for now. They were being produced by AJ Carson, and I called up one of the on-air guys I knew and said “Dude what are THOSE?!” He explained to me that it was something that “production” did, and that started a chain reaction that became an annoyance to everyone in the market that did “production” and answered their extensions when I called.
As far as mentors, I only started following the big producers recently. When I started out, my mentors were local production guys in the market. Blair Carter, Dylan Rodgers, AJ Carson. They all helped me a lot. The mentor that is constantly teaching me new things and critiquing me is my production director though. He’s helped me understand how to keep commercials clean from processing clutter, and how to make a voice “pop” without it sounding overly compressed and fake. It’s a tool that has, and will be, invaluable…and he’s just down the hall.
As for the new job: What are some surprises about working for a BIG company and/or full-time radio, you didn’t expect?
I’m amazed at the connectivity we have to other markets. Clear Channel gets slapped around a lot because of their consolidation techniques, but from our market, those are only helping us. We get the best talent from around the country, but we get to do things with a level of localization that many companies have a hard time finding a good balance with.
That being said, production within Clear Channel is very different than I expected. Our market is doing all the production for another market, and my production director is the head of all the production directors in the west coast markets. I didn’t expect so many duties to be on one person.
While I am sure you love so much about what you do, What is something you don’t like about the radio business?
I HATE revisions that are needed on the air immediately, and are pushed through at 4:45. It is easily my BIGGEST pet peeve. I also don’t like insecurity of jobs right now. (But that’s with any career at the moment)
OK…You “kids” are supposed to be real good at this social media crap. Was that key to gaining employment in radio? Tell me some of your strategies and what worked for you to get a full-time Gig.
Facebook. Yeah…I was FB friends with a producer in town (Paul Helms, KSL-AM/FM) and he knew I was looking for a local f/t job. He messaged me and said that he knew of a temp. p/t opening that could turn into full time. I was working at Taco Time at that point, and saw that the pay was higher, so I called Todd (production dir.) and asked him about the job. I kept calling and emailing, and finally he offered me what he had available. I took the job, knowing that I was only guaranteed a paycheck for about 2 months. I started in April, and they gave me a job until May 14th. Then things changed. The person I was hired to fill-in for decided not to return from her maternity leave because she wanted to be a mom. They told me that they were still looking around, but I was a contender for her position. After what seemed like months of waiting, I finally got an offer to move into full-time. That was probably the third greatest moment of my life! (Keep reading and you’ll see the first and second moments). If you’ve got the ability to market yourself, do it! And with Facebook/soundcloud/twitter, it’s beyond easy to get you name and your demos out there.
What are your favorite “tools” of the trade? Daws, plugs, sfx etc? Also, what are your favorite learning resources?
Ohhh boy. This is where I have MAJOR a.d.d. issues. I have used every DAW known to mankind. I know them all pretty well too. But after working in a fast-paced environment, where I didn’t have the luxury to mess around with things, I reverted back to my first daw I learned on, Adobe Audition 1.5. It’s great, I can’t say enough good things about it. But it has one BIG problem for me as a commercial producer. It’s time-stretching algorithm SUCKS. Big time. I was also a big fan of Reaper, and have gotten super fast with it. So after about 2 weeks of trial and error, I got Reaper here at work in all it’s elastiquePro time stretching algorithm glory. And now that I’m forcing myself to use it for everything, I’m growing to love everything about it. For plugins, I have always loved WAVES. The L3, C4 and REQ 6 Band are indispensible. I use them every day. I’m also a big fan of the sony plugins that come with soundforge and vegas. The multi-tap delay is way good. My secret “dirty” eq weapon is Voxengo’s Voxformer plugin though. I tend to use the “telephone” preset a lot, and tweak the settings to fit what I’m making though.
You told me a while back you were going to go to college after high school and study something (I forget) that wasn’t related to radio. Did you put those plans on hold? In your honest assessment, do you think a college degree is important or once you get into Radio is it all sunshine and butterflies, no degree needed?
I did have those plans, and I still do. But yes, they’ve been put on hold. I LOVE radio, but I also wanted to be a paramedic. I have my EMT-Basic certification, and was going to go back to school last summer to take more classes to reach my Paramedic certification. But the college cancelled the program a week after I enrolled. I got my tuition back and didn’t lose any money, but I didn’t have enough to enroll in regular college either. So eventually, I’d love to revisit that possibility, just to say that I can do something other than piss my neighbors off with noise ordinance violations.
To answer the question about a college degree for radio though, I would encourage it, but with this one piece of advice. Don’t major in communications unless you’re going into news or TV. If you want to be a dj, take the college class and start at the college station. But don’t major in communications if that’s all you want to do. Whether or not we want to face the reality, on-air is increasingly harder to find a job in. Get the experience you need, but major in something that can make you money if radio doesn’t work out. If you want to be a producer, take music or music production classes. I took orchestra in high school, and learning music theory has saved my life every day in a production world. Plus, you can always get educational discounts on ProTools or Audition
Congrats on not only getting Married but also having a child! At your age I couldn’t even find the….uh never mind. Congrats. So you are going to have to learn the art of “Balance” at a young age. How is this going for you? Are your hours long and weird? If so Is your woman understanding?
Thanks! Those were definitely the top two greatest moments of my life. Don’t ask me which was more important though, there’s no correct answer, and I know my wife will be reading this.
Finding the balance is extremely difficult sometimes, but compromise is making it lots easier than one would expect. My wife is incredibly supportive and understanding. I live almost 2 hours away from the station, and we aren’t in a position to move. If you do the math, I’m working 8 hours of full time, plus an additional 4 hours of commuting every day. Being gone over 12 hours every day is hard, but when I get home, very rarely will I do any work related things. I have the home studio in case I need to, but I try to make it an “emergencies only” facility. I’ll do some freelance stuff sometimes on the weekends, but generally when I’m at home, I want to be home. I miss my wife and baby, so I try to take as much time as possible to be with them. So far it’s working out great, and she completely understands what sacrifices need to be made.
Now look ahead. Where will we see you in 5 years? 10 years? 40 years? Ideally, of course.
Ideally I’d love to be imaging a station like KIIS or Amp. My dream was to work in San Francisco or LA, but that’s gonna take some work . I can’t really see myself anywhere other than a radio studio though. Some people want to move onto sound design and TV and movies, but I’m happy with radio. It has always been my passion. I’d love to follow in the footsteps of Michael Horn and image a production library, but still have the monster station under my belt.
And for 40 years down the road, my son will be a brain surgeon who cures cancer and will pay for my retirement.
9 1/2: I saw a post on FB. What will you do next time you get on a coaster?
Leave the phone in a locker. I’m attaching a pic of the coaster, and a pic of the phone after the recovery…Everyone will figure out what happened real quick.
Reach out to Gavan at any of these various places