THE DYLAN DIARY (PART THREE)
Now it’s getting interesting. The actual launch show is in its final production stages. We give Bob along with his team complete freedom. Why would we want it any other way? The last thing we want is a Bob Dylan show sanitized or compromised to radio standards. The magic is hearing what Bob Dylan can do with a radio show. No doubt it will be different from any other show…ever.
However, there is a lot that we at XM need to do to support the show, particularly in promoting it. It’s a learning experience. At first a bunch of our more adventurous “audio animators” as we cal them wanted to take a crack at the thirty and sixty second promotional announcements. In a sonic array that is a bit like a merger of Rocky Squirrel and Frank Zappa, they created some pretty incredible pieces. WAY out there. His team has the right to approve these and we knew they’d either hate them or love them. He hated them. Actually they liked them, but thought they were way too crazed for Bob Dylan. Or maybe the wrong kind of crazed. No problem…we kind of knew that. It’s a good feeling that our guys can create something that brilliantly insane, even if the got thumbs down from the Dylan camp.
OK—this time we’ll produce some things with some guidance. We did. They were close. But they didn’t like these either. Too over-produced. Now I’m getting a feel for the style that Bob’s team wants. I took a crack at writing something. They liked it. Jim Mc Bean one of our animation aces recorded it---I just sent the MP3 to them. I think he’ll like it. Very informational…not too dense with sound. Stay tuned.
This project is refreshing. Painful at times…but refreshing. The Dylan camp doesn’t operate off the radio handbook. They operate via the Dylan handbook which is probably more relevant today to listeners than the radio handbook is. Even the drastically re-written XM handbook. These guys know no rules…it’s all about sound. They have this keen and powerful Point of View that has absolutely nothing to do with radio. THAT in itself is a learning experience. I always prided myself on thinking beyond what the radio sheep were thinking…but these guys are SO far away from “radio thinking” that it really gets you realizing how engrained we radio people are in a certain style of thinking and creating.
Just received the show’s graphic logo. Again—there ain’t nothin’ like it in radio. Zero “corporate” look. Very camp. Very earthly. As good as our graphic guys are, we would have never come up with this very cool retro look. Again, they aint thinking radio graphics…they’re thinking Bob graphics. This is all liberating. This won’t be another radio show. This is different. And it’s different by design, but spontaneously. No one is thinking “this has to be different’, it’s just happening that way. Not too many radio thinkers to screw it up. Keeps us on our toes.
The web design was another area. We have some brilliant web people working on this, but in going through the web plan with them, there were dozens of little details. Lines. Looks. Attitudes that weren’t quite right. I talked it through with them. They got it. Still---Bob’s guys found more “flaws”—though they were pretty minor. I felt pretty good that I’m starting to learn how this thing needs to look and smell. An education in cool.
Had to send Eddie some sound. He wanted some sound effects and strange vintage “classic” radio bits. Got ‘em sent. Mc Bean and John Keith, two of our guys doing a ton of work on this put a nice package together. Hmmm…I wish more of our own Programmers asked for this stuff. I’m confident that this Dylan adventure will inspire us all. In radio! His show will obviously open up some music voids in our heads…but who woulda thunk that this show would inspire in radio. I thought WE were the experts. Guess not. Can’t stop learning. That’s the problem at FM. They learn about systems and research, but stopped learning about the soul of radio.
One thing I can help these guys on is the classic radio thing. I understand that. So do they. Together I think this thing will morph into something more like a radio variety show from the early 50’s than anything else. Now that is good.
We really have our A team plugged into the production. Randy Ezratty and Rob Macomber from XM Productions in NYC are on the scene up there. Going beyond the call…on a taxi shuttle schedule to and from the production office. Here it’s McBean and Keith…and a lot of other people. Then there’s George Taylor Morris who runs Deep Tracks, the show’s home channel. George is experienced in this as he’s closely involved in Tom Petty’s show…and George is helping immensely with the music. We have millions of songs in our library, but even then Bob and his team are finding some real gems, that even we don’t have. But we’re getting them. I think some might be on 78’s. But this ain’t gonna be no oldies show. It’s about MUSIC. The dates are irrelevant. It’s all over the road—for the right reasons. I’m Kissinger. Keeping the XM and Dylan camps on the same page. Feels pretty good. This thing might actually happen! And LISTENERS are the ones who will really benefit from this.
We moved the press announcement back a week. No big deal. Nathaniel Brown and Anne Taylor Griffith need some extra time to organize. Actually we ALL need the extra time as the premier date is creeping up.
Feels like the days before the moon launch must of felt to NASA. The countdown continues…
* THE DYLAN DIARY PART 4 (The Launch is Real)
* THE XM SOUND