I don’t know, if I need to explain to you who Ryan Drean is or what he does. I bet you all know Ryan from his legendary website and blog,  as the head of imaging for KSCS in Dallas, as the imaging guy for the Benztown country library, as stunning Voice Over Artist or as the guy being nominated for the first ever All Access award in the category Imaging. ….did I forget something? I bet!

To me Ryan is one of the best Imaging guys you in the world, a country imaging legend and a true radio expert. I am honored to work with him at Benztown and interview the man, who usually interviews the stars of our scene.

Check Ryans Imaging and VO demo, his screen shots including plugIN settings, learn production tricks and read how it feels to interview all this legendary people….ENTER Ryan!

Listen to Ryan’s mega impressive 10 minute Country demo for KSCS.

If you got less time, check out the 3 minute version

1. which production system do you use at KSCS and in your home studio and why?

I just can’t stop using Pro Tools.  I bought and tried Reaper – not for me.  I like to use Ableton Live now for some music creation but not full prod.  I still keep my copy of old Cool Edit for some simple stuff.  But I am so used to pro tools and I am just twice as fast on it than any other Daw.  I LOVE efficiency.  I know people who live and die by others like Saw and Vegas and Logic and Audition.  Whatever you like is what you should use.

I am a PC guy.  I won’t discuss this issue with people anymore and I don’t care if you like Apple.  It’s like the abortion debate.  Neither side will ever change their mind so don’t waste your time.  (I hope I didn’t piss anyone off.  Not my intention.  Just don’t see a need to waste time)

I have PT 8.0.5 installed at KSCS on a quad core PC with XP sp3.

At the home studio I am now WAY more cool.  I just built a new machine (yes I am a nerd who builds computers).  I got everything I could possibly get so maybe this one will last me more than 6 months.  I have an Intel i7 quad core, over clocked (2600K).  16GB Ram.  I installed a 128GB SSD drive as the program drive.  I can’t believe how awesome that makes a computer.  You need to be persistent with your temp folder locations and tweak the drive via windows (tutorials online) and keep progs that rewrite a lot OFF the drive and on your second (or third or fourth) non-SSD drives.  SSD drives have a short lifespan as far as write occurrences.  In other words if your temp folders are there, which get written constantly you will simply burn it out.  Anyway, I run Pro Tools 8.0.5 with a Digi 003 on windows 7 home premium.

2. what are your favourite plugIns (including screenshots)?

I use waves plugs all the time (like many others).  As I look at my main template these are the plugs that are instantiated : VO tracks – L1, REQ6, and C1 Gate.  Master – L3.  I have multiple aux busses set up.  One to a Metaflange.  One to a Supertap 6 taps (synced to the session tempo) and I also have a verb which starts with rverb but I rarely use that and change it out all the time.  I also use a 2 track setup to record my VO where I place an AudioTrack plug on an aux and reverse the inputs so that plug is applied on the fly into a mono audio track.  I did a tutorial on this a while back if you don’t know what I am saying.

Otherwise I love speakerphone, but use it sparingly.  I use the Q8 Paragraphic EQ, LinEQ broad (linear phase EQ)  and the standard Digi EQs which are also very nice.  I like to pepper in some Enigma from time to time and some true-verb, but I do hate reverb oh so much.

Music.  I use Transfuser, Stylus RMX, ReFX, Omnisphere and a bunch of other fun things like those.

3. how do you schedule your work (priorities…..)?

Its tough to plan but I am lucky that at KSCS they don’t care what I do in as much as long as KSCS comes first.  BUT I also know where my bread is buttered, so KSCS ALWAYS comes first.  Mainly I find the weeks get crazier as they progress except Fridays are never that bad for me.  Monday I usually try to map out the week.  As I said, tough to plan too far ahead in this business but I make sure my clients know I can give them any turnaround time they need as long as they give me due dates/times.  Which they do.  SO, if KTFM needs VO in 1 hour I can easily do it because I know exactly when my other stuff has to be done.  In fact, and this will be my main critique on some other prods out there: I have a new client I am producing.  He asked about my turn around times?  I replied “whatever you need”  He figured as long as I could do stuff within 2 weeks it would be fine.  I laughed  and said more like 24 hours if you need it.  But his last producer was literally taking 2,3 and 4 weeks to get stuff back.  That is just disrespectful not to mention stupid.  Your name is everything.  If you do great work but never get it done, then who cares.  Plus, how can you think more then a couple days is OK for radio.  We HAVE to be as close to instant as we can.

4. what do you love about being the head of production @ KSCS?

I love the professionalism here.  I work with legends.  Sales, promo, programming.  Hawkeye and Dorsey in the morning – on KSCS together, well over 20 years.  Our traffic department has been here over 20 years! Its still pretty surreal to think about how lucky I am to have this gig.    I also REALLY love the battle.  I want to be the best at everything I do, whether its radio VO, production or Poker!  I think if you do something you should want to be better than the other guy.  You should want to win all the time.  That’s how the mind-set is here.  We have fun but take the competition really seriously.  I like the strategy sessions, I like mapping out a month long imaging campaign, placing it into action and seeing it work.  We tell the listeners to do something and think a certain way about us and sure enough, our research a month later shows they do.  Its really fun to be effective.  (Not me, the station)

5. what is the best protools or production trick anybody should know?

Hmmm…I use the 3 track stereo spread VO shortcut often. I think Dan Kelly at PLJ showed me that first many years ago but I know everyone is familiar with it.   It’s a very easy thing to setup in your template.  Then whenever you need to make the VO standout or just “varied,” you copy the clip to your 2 tracks pushed left and right.  Nudge each one front or back and you’re done.  OR just copy the clip to the 2 panned tracks but don’t nudge.  I keep a hard Filter on each of them dropping below like 600-800 so you have that hard filter effect instantly whenever you need it.  I like tricks that make me more efficient.

6. how do you get inspired and what do you use as source of creativity?

The music played on the particular format I am branding is a big inspiration.  That is why people are coming to the product first and foremost.  Some jocks are a big reason as well so building off of what they do is key.  But I always put station first.

The target Demo.  You gotta know how they live, what they love and why they do what they do.  My girlfriend is the target demo so that helps.

TV.   I really do think TV remains ahead of radio as far as branding goes.  That’s simplistic, I know, and some may say I am just wrong but the TV world is always doing the right things to communicate to their demos and they speak to much more fragmented demos than radio.  FX Net. for example: the way they brand Wilfred and Louie.  I feel like often times Radio starts with the mindset that our listeners are dumb and deaf and we have to go from there.  FX and others start with the mindset that their viewers are savvy and go from there.  Its not all radio and its obviously not all TV.  But at a basic starting point I think TV nets tend to give their consumers more credit and treat them like real individual people then a collective group.

I decided a few years back that listening to other radio stations for inspiration would not be a habit anymore.  I may be an idiot, don’t get me wrong, but I just want to test myself and try to be as effective and original as I can.  That said will I still use a big ‘ol explosive cash effect in a money giveaway promo?  You’re damn right.  Sometimes if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. (I know at least one person who is damning me in his mind right now)

7. who were your radio production idols, who influenced your work as a producer?

Actually, I’ve really never spoke specifically about this.  I respect Dave Foxx, Eric Chase and John Frost as much as anyone.  Doing my podcast I can say those are the 3 names that come up most followed closely by Jeff Thomas and a few others.  (I don’t want to start listing a bunch of people because I would certainly leave people out)  I grew up listening to KIIS and KROQ  in the 80’s and early 90’s, so anyone who had anything to do with those stations can be thanked by me.

Directly, and he didn’t know this until I just finally booked him for a podcast interview, Mike Crank was huge for me.  He made The Peak in Denver sound perfect.  I would record then cut up his imaging and dissect it sound by sound.  His flow, his mix, his filters, his writing, it was the reason I became Imaging Director at KCSU and why I knew even though I wanted to be the next Kevin or Bean or Howard or Rick Dees, I also wanted to be the next Mike Crank.  I’m glad his mom pushed him into the world because I may have never learned how to do this stuff.

8. what would be your 3 key advices for me a youngster?

Learn how to fail.  I say that to anyone who wants to do anything well.  Especially in this day and age where schools stop giving F’s and little league games stop using a scoreboard.  You can’t know how to win unless you learn how to lose.  Be ready – you will take some hits and feel like success won’t come.  Work through it and you will be a better person.

Work Hard.  I have been lazy in the past, no doubt.  When I learned to get motivated and work harder than the next guy I saw results.  I am not all that talented.  Knowing this and working hard has helped me overcome my deficiencies.

Broaden your skills.  Just to keep it simple, learn as many different things as you can and try to widen your range of income earning channels.

9. what was the biggest moment in radio ever?

I worked for a talk station in Boulder, KWAB, in 2000.  I got to go to L.A. and cover the Democratic National Convention.  I go to do everything.  I was fully credentialed, on the floor, media row, and in the press rooms.  It was so enriching.  I am not a democrat.  I ate dinner with Dennis Kucinich and had a conversation I will never forget while I ordered Surf and Turf on the Company dime at a lavish restaurant (who’s name I forget) while making baseball analogies about politics with the most Liberal person in government.  It was awesome.

I met Rick Dees, one of my heroes.  That same day, I also had a chance to meet Phil Hendrie  (Nick you were there!) which would have been pretty nice because of my unwavering respect for his talent, except he literally told me to go away.  That was about 3 months ago.  I still like Phil.  I just drop that in my “Don’t be so quick to meet your heroes because they can very easily let you down” file.  I never want to meet Eddie Vedder.

10. what have been the best interviews you ever did for your own blog?

I really enjoyed Ann Dewig.  She is a brilliant talent and brutally honest.  I actually cut a lot of that interview out because ….well it could have been scandalous.  Without thinking too much…Foxx stands out because he was my first 😉  Sykes stands out because he had a lot of energy and we had to do it twice….

Best???? Too tough to really answer!!

Oh – those guys at Benztown were pretty darn good.

11. how difficult is it to get in touch with all that imaging icons?

I have been startlingly lucky.  I have been flat out turned down by only 2 people both because they are apparently shy.  You are both wimps and you know who you are.  J  Otherwise I had a missed email with Rick Allen or I would have had him on earlier.  Everyone has been so generous.

12. what are your goals considering your own blog?

I really did start it as a resource for the “Young Guns.” Radio needs a farm system and it’s very evident we as producers and voice talents have to create it on our own.   To be more specific, I want to include a wider range of tools.  I want more tutorials, more sessions and templates for people to take and learn from.  I want people to consider it valuable to their future.  I am limited in the time I can put into it but will do everything I can to keep it filled with content.  The Benztown blog is a great companion.  Our content goes well together as you guys have Andre’s Diary and plenty of great tutorials and audio being submitted.  I think we are on the right track.

Go CSU Rams.  I’ll see you at TCU November 19th.  Keep the frogs under triple digits and I will be happy.

Check out Ryan’s qualities as a VO guy with these two VO demos.

  1. Eban says:

    Thanks Benztown for another great interview.
    I’d like to answer to the question #11, I am nothing in radio imaging industry, but I gotta say that some icons are really just really reachable. I will only mention Dave Foxx that I’ve been in touch with, and I can say it’s an amazing and really nice person. And like I said, I’m really nobody in the radio imaging world but he took the time to reply to some emails, give advices etc…

    Again thanks for the itw, I loved it 🙂

    -Eban

  2. Paul Duffy says:

    Fantastic interview.. and here here about the pro tools on pc thing. I totally agree.

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