Monday, October 24, 2011

Mentoring Mondays - Eric Allen - SorCom Review


I am so thrilled to have Eric from the SorCom Review show on Sorcerer Radio here for Mentoring Mondays.  This is not my traditional Mentoring Mondays, Eric doesn't even have a blog, but #1. He's hilarious and very entertaining, #2. There is a definite correlation between blogging and hosting a radio show.  I first met Eric through Twitter when Beth Green & I were discussing Auburn Football, of course he had to butt in on the conversation, and I am so thrilled he did.  So to Eric, WAR EAGLE Buddy!! and to everyone else, you're gonna love this!!


Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/SorComReview
Twitter – @SorComReview


 Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about SorCom Review.

“Uhm... hello, my name is Eric and I am a Disneyholic...”

Ahem.

Hello everyone!  My name is Eric Allen, and I'm one of the on-air personalities at Sorcerer Radio.  I've also been a college radio DJ, comic book artist, failed stand-up comedian, and Jeopardy! champion among other things over the years.

The show that I've been blessed with hosting since June of last year is the SorCom Review, an hour-long program that focuses on the Sorcerer Community: Sorcerer Radio's very own message board (www.srsounds.com/forum).  The show recognizes new members and member birthdays and also takes a look at notable topics of discussion while playing the best in Disney park music. 

The SorCom Review airs every Tuesday morning at 8:00 a.m. Eastern on Live365.com as well as the SR website at www.srsounds.com.  There are encore presentations at 7:00 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday evening and noon Eastern on Sunday.


How did you get started with radio? 

 It all started while I was at Auburn University in the late 80s/early 90s.  Two of my best friends worked at WEGL (the campus radio station) and they invited me to sit in with them one evening.  It was a blast so at their suggestion I took the introductory class and started working there as well.  Looking back, I'm sure I raised a few eyebrows over there as I was an art major – which of course had absolutely NOTHING to do with radio – but it was a great experience.  We had a lot of fun and I learned a lot about broadcasting at the same time. 

After I graduated, I worked briefly at a commercial station in the Birmingham area but hadn't really considered getting back into radio until I discovered Sorcerer Radio and was invited to join the staff.

What knowledge should someone have before considering hosting a radio show? Is there any special equipment they must have?

This rather goes without saying (so of course I'm going to say it), but first of all you need to know your subject, especially with something that has such a high degree of fan ownership like Disney.  I'm not saying you have to be a total brainiac and that you have to know things like how many gallons of water are in Pirates of the Caribbean, but fans can tell if you're faking it.  And of course knowing a few things about broadcasting in general is crucial if you want to have any sort of professional sound to your show.  That's one thing that's great about Sorcerer Radio – there are people like Aljon (Go) and Jeff (Davis) who have tons of broadcast experience and have been really great about sharing tips and tricks of the trade.  I think I've learned as much from those two as I did the announcer class in college.

As far as equipment... well first, obviously, there's the computer with the broadband internet connection (the faster the better on both counts).  You'll also need to invest in a dedicated microphone/headphones or an all-in-one headset; I use a Plantronics headset that does really well even though it makes me look like one of those operators who are standing by at Time Life Books.  Another something you'll need to pick up is a program like Adobe Audition so you'll be able to create production audio (promotional pieces, sound clips, etc.).  Audacity is a pretty good alternative and it's a free download to boot.


I think the biggest adjustment that I've had to deal with getting back into radio after so long has been with the technology.  When I was at WEGL, we had a control room packed with records, CDs, carts (re-purposed 8-track cassettes), cassettes, and all the equipment used to play them.  There was a narrow path where you could walk around single file but that was about it.  Now that whole room full of music can be stuck on a single computer – or maybe even a single iPod if the hard drive's big enough.  The learning curve has been challenging but it's been exciting at the same time.

What do you feel is the best way to let the public know about your radio show, especially in the beginning?

Personally I think the key is exposure.  I discovered Sorcerer Radio by doing an internet search for “Disney park background music,” but quite frankly you can't afford to sit back and wait for people to hunt for you.  Get out there and work the social media like Facebook and Twitter.  And when I say “work” I don't mean simply put out the same “hey-listen-to-me-I-have-a-show” message over and over again.  It's important to inform people about your show, to be sure, and you want to make sure to send that stuff out, but also make sure you develop relationships with people.  Again, folks can tell if you're faking it and if they get the impression that you're just there to promote yourself then they'll just tune you out.

Be yourself. Make friends. BE a friend. And most important of all, have fun with it – there are a lot of fun people out there you can meet if you're not careful. 

I know a lot of people think that it would be fun to host a radio show, but I’m sure there is a lot of behind the scenes work involved. Would you please share with us the process of producing a single radio show from beginning to end.

Aside from the technology, the biggest change from WEGL to Sorcerer Radio has been the amount of preparation involved.  Back in the day, we'd show up about 10-15 minutes before air time and grab maybe one or two songs and a news story to get started.  Maybe that was because we had the all-request show and really not a whole lot of prep work was needed.  Maybe it also had something to do with the fact that there were 2-3 of us to split up what work there was.  I'm sure the fact that I'm quite a bit older and take it a bit more seriously has something to do with it too.  Now, though, I usually spend about 3 hours (if not more) prepping for a 1 hour show.

The prep work usually starts over the preceding weekend.  Unfortunately I'm a rambling sort of person, and my train of thought derails more than a runaway locomotive in an old Western.  That means I have to write out a script for the show's on-air segments to literally keep me on track; I do ad-lib a little bit here and there but by and large I have to keep things focused in order to keep the show coming in roughly on time.  The good part about having the script though is I have all my show notes in one place – the new members, the birthdays, the park hours, even the “hot forum topics” are all copied/pasted into one document, so I don't have to waste time looking for the information while I'm sitting there with a hot mic.

Along with the show notes I also put together a playlist of music I want to have on the show.  Early on I tried to mix things up and have music from a variety of sources in each set, but now I've gotten to where I just set things up in blocks – like “okay, the first music set will be all Magic Kingdom...  second set will be all resort music... etc.”  It's just easier on me as I try to line up music.  It also helps keep the music selection a little fresher as I may or may not play music from a particular area two weeks in a row (my obligatory song from Off Kilter each week notwithstanding).

When I get ready to start things up, I set up my laptop and make sure I have a second monitor whenever possible (like when I'm at home or in one of the conference rooms at work).  The second monitor is a big help as that's where I put my file directories, playlist, script, etc. and can simply drag files over without having to minimize a lot of stuff.  My ultimate goal is to get a computer setup with a plethora of monitors and assorted techno-bits so elaborate that it would put Batman or your average James Bond villain to shame.

How do you keep coming up with topics to talk about? Do you have a favorite subject that is your “go to” when all else fails?

I really like topic threads that allow community members to share their own stories, memories, experiences, and so on.  Sometimes someone will come up with a question like where you'd like to be if you could be a Cast Member for a day, or what unique traditions you observe on a Disney trip that you think most other folks wouldn't do, or something like that.  These are my favorites as they're stories where the members' love of Disney really shines through and you can fell the excitement in the stuff they post.  Best of all, as everyone has their own thoughts and opinions the material is as unique as the community members who post it.

From there it's really just a matter of firing things up and doing the show like any other DJ would do – cue up the music, adjust levels, talk into the microphone (while trying to keep my train of thought from de-railing), that sort of thing.  

What is your favorite thing about doing SorCom Review?

Quite possibly my favorite part about doing the show (aside from getting to clown around on a microphone for all the world to hear, of course) is that in one way or another a significant amount of the show's content is created by the Sorcerer Community members themselves – whether they're joining the community, celebrating a birthday, or contributing to a topic thread.  This material isn't pre-fabricated by a single writer or a marketing department but rather from a group of like-minded individuals coming together to discuss their love of Disney with one another.  It's authentic.  It's genuine.  It's downright infectious at times.  And it's a departure from other shows that have more conventional areas of focus (Disney news stories, park history, butt-obscure trivia, that sort of thing) so it's unique in that respect as well.


What is your favorite Walt Disney World attraction and why?



Oh geez, I hate it when people ask for only one as it's so hard for me to do.  I've never been able to narrow it down to just one overall as I have different reasons for liking each one; the best I've been able to do so far is a favorite from each park:
ñ  Magic Kingdom – Space Mountain
ñ  Epcot – Mission: Space
ñ  DHS – Star Tours

I'm a huge sci-fi/NASA/space fan (my eyes were glued to the TV screen during the Apollo 11 moon landing even though I was still a baby), so I guess my choices really should come as no surprise. 
ñ  Animal Kingdom – Dinosaur (Countdown to Extinction)

Would you like to share any Disney Vacation tips?

If the parks are too crowded or if they close early, then hop on a bus/boat/monorail and go resort hopping.  The same attention to detail that goes into the Disney parks also goes into their resorts and those adventurous enough to look are often surprised at what they find.  Go poking around all the guest areas and see what you can discover.  Maybe even eat a meal at one of the distinctive resort restaurants.

I especially recommend doing this when the parks and resorts are decorated for the Christmas holidays – each resort has its own decorating style and you could easily spend a full day taking in all the scenery.

Anything else you would like to add?

You mean aside from “Hey folks, be sure to listen to The SorCom Review and the rest of Sorcerer Radio every waking moment of the day?”  :)

Actually, I do want to thank you for asking me to contribute here.  I'm flattered to been considered and I greatly appreciate the opportunity.

Oh yeah, and I do want to add one last thing.  “WARRRRRRRRRRR EAGLE, HEY!!!!!!!!”

Don't forget to catch Eric on his show SorCom Review on Sorcerer Radio, Tuesdays at 8:00am, or encore presentations on Tuesdays at 7:00pm and Noon Sundays (Eastern Time Zone times).  Thanks so much Eric!  One more thing...WAR EAGLE Eric, Beth, Amy, Ridge!!!! 

Have a Magical Day!
Donna Kay



8 comments:

  1. I totally agree with Eric on the resort-hopping tip. We have had every bit as much fun visiting the resorts on our last few trips as we have in the parks. I never thought I'd say that - but it's so true!

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  2. This was awesome! I love this entire series Donna Kay

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  3. Thanks for stopping by!! I have often thought of doing these interviews by phone, but with Eric it was probably better this way, I am sure I would have been so busy laughing I wouldn't have been able to make it through the interview. THANKS ERIC!!

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  4. And thank YOU!!!! I greatly appreciate the opportunity to be a part of the series.

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  5. YEA!! WAR EAGLE!! Great job Donna Kay and Eric- thanks for sharing with us! It was fab.

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  6. Another great article! Thanks for the support of the Disney Universe Donna and thanks to Eric for being such an integral member of the Sorcerer Radio staff! We couldn't do it without the support of our listeners!

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  7. Thanks Beth!! I can't wait to read what Eric has to say on your blog next week!!
    Thanks Aljon!! I love the Disney Universe and am honored to be a member!! Thanks for letting me borrow Eric for a day. :)

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  8. I love this behind-the-scenes look! Thank you Eric and Donna!!

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