A few days ago, I received a stunning element from Benztown News/Talk imaging director and voice over talent Harry Legg. It was the opener for David Guetta’s weekly DJ Mix…. You’ve read right! Harry’s producing and voicing an international syndicated radio show with one of the biggest names in Pop History – DAVID GUETTA.
Pretty nice, what? Check out how former WKTU creative services director Harry managed to get this fantastic job and what skills it takes to create the imaging for this show.
What is the show about?
It’s David Guetta’s weekly DJ Mix – listeners will hear David’s favorite club music. He has been spinning in clubs since the late 80’s and 90’s and has become one of the world’s most successful hit makers. For those that may not know, he’s produced hit after hit with The Black Eyed Peas, Kelly Rowland, Chris Willis, LMFAO, Fergie, Nicki Minaj, Flo Rida, Ludacris, Taio Cruz, Akon and more. In the show you’ll get to hear a different side of David’s music and the sounds that he uses to pack a dance floor.
How did you get this job?
About a year ago, My first blog post for Benztown Branding was on networking… and that’s basically how this came to me. I have a huge passion for dance/pop and have established a presence in that community over the years through being the Music Director/APD of the former Energy Chicago, Image Voice and Creative Services Director for WKTU NYC as well as voicing a lot of other dance outlets such as the former Energy San Francisco and Phoenix, Radio Hatvan in Hungary, Crazy FM in Belgium, Dance FM in Cyprus and online stations such as Energy 98. I even took a brief break from the radio industry and was the West Coast Manager for Strictly Rhythm Records – the dance label that is famous for artists such as Darude, Crystal Waters, Venga Boys, Ultra Nate and more. So, when Jeff Z, my former PD at WKTU was asked by David Guetta’s people who should voice and produce his show for 2012 – it was an easy answer for Jeff and an easy sell to David Guetta and his syndication company. They also wanted me to find a female Spanish-speaking talent – it was a no-brainer to ask Jewelz Lopez – we worked together at WKTU and she is one of the VO talents on Benztown’s roster.
Do you have any special techniques for imaging a radio show?
There’s not much of a difference in producing for a weekly show versus producing for a station. Some things to keep in mind are putting it together in a way in which the elements aren’t going to burn – because certain pieces will be used week after week. So, I don’t use a drop or anything that may be cool but also annoying after you’ve heard it several times. It’s important to fully understand the way in which each piece will be used – is it meant to be played over his mix or will it be an opening or closing piece where I can lay more underneath so that it stands on its own. It’s important that the pieces that will play over his mix be processed so that they easily cut through the music… a beginner mistake is to think you need to make the VO full of bass – you actually want to pull some low-end out so the VO will cut through the mix easily.
You’re the Imaging Director for the Benztown News/Talk format and the David Guetta show. Isn’t that a difficult switch from News/Talk to CHR or are there similarities when it comes to imaging?
The majority of my career has been at CHR/Rhythmic stations. But along the way I have been fortunate to land gigs at prominent Rock and News/Talk stations. In order to stay employed in this business, you need to be versatile! I personally feel there are more similarities than one might think. Regardless of format, it’s about creative writing and content. In News/Talk I’m not worried as much about wizardry – but there is room for some. In hit music production, I think it’s easy to make the mistake of concentrating too much on the wizardry while the quality of the writing suffers. We all love to get off on cool effects, beat matching and so on – and that’s all fine – as long as it is used to complement the message. One of the more popular producers whose name appears in this blog a lot is David Konsky – he and his whole team in Australia regularly send me the absolute best scripts to voice in the business – and they all back it up with amazing production technique. They are having fun there and it really comes through the speakers. If you’re looking for great examples – check out the Southern Cross/Austereo stations online.
Are there any writing techniques or production tricks a youngster should know?
You do have to learn solid production techniques and know when to use them. When you hear something and don’t know how it was done – ask or play around to figure it out. Don’t overproduce! What will really set you apart from everyone else is your ability to tell a story and/or capture an emotion in your work. I receive plenty of demos from great up and coming talent. The ones that send me just technique with boring content “The Best Variety of Blah, Blah, Blah with Blah, Blah, Blah in the Morning” tend to go in one ear and out the other. Now, we have all had to produce basic sweepers such as that and they have their place…but your demo certainly shouldn’t start with that or have a bunch of that. It’s like sending an aircheck and having your first break be a weather forecast…Eject! Next Demo! So, hone your story telling skills…learn to take the opening line of your promo to set-up a feeling, a situation, a problem that you have an answer for… We don’t have much time to do what we do – typically : 30 – maybe a little more depending on the company or PD that you work for… So, learn to have fun and twist things around so that they are entertaining in a very concise line or two.
Have you ever met David Guetta? How is he? 😉
Not yet – hopefully during his next gig in NYC!
Thanks to Harry for the audio and answering my questions
If you’re interested in David’s show – all the contact info is at: http://whataradio.com