Imaging In 2019 – Nick Karkazis
Welcome to the “Imaging In 2019 Series” – a blog series that interviews inspiring producers and great creators of Station Sound.
I previously got to work with Nick during my time at SPIN South West and it was a pleasure to work along side one of the good people in our industry. The stations are hundreds of miles apart, but it was always like a team working with Nick.
Nick takes to the stage at The Imaging Days 2019 in Amsterdam, which is set to be a big event. Welcome Aussie/Irish Nick!
1. How did you get started in the business and tell us about your role at SPIN?
As an Aussie coming up in the Australian radio scene, one of the things that was constantly drummed into me by PD’s and people already in the game was that if I wanted to make it and get jobs, I needed to be more appealing to a PD than the next guy. The more I could offer in terms of behind the scenes skills and secondary roles, the higher the chance I’d get a job.
So like most young jocks going from market to market trying to climb that radio ladder, I tried to find a secondary role that I could do as well as be OnAir. I think I naturally gravitated towards Imaging because having come from an OnAir background, I often relied on the imaging around me to make what I was doing shine and I was constantly looking to the imaging to see how I could enhance my shift and what I was saying. I would try to be creative with how I used it around what I was doing OnAir. I’m also quite musical and would admire how imaging felt and sat within the flow of the station. It always really appealed to me. All of this combined with how slick I thought I was on Adobe Audition after all my practice editing callers and skits haha! I thought, “yep… I’m the next Konsky”!
I eventually got imaging as my secondary role at a station I worked at in Darwin called Hot100. I later moved to Ireland with my Irish (then) girlfriend, got some work at Spin doing OnAir shifts and then the role of imaging came up and I applied and landed the job. Almost 6 years later I’m still there, have learned a hell of a lot and I’m also now the Assistant Program Director. It’s a huge job doing both roles but very rewarding. I love being involved in programming and working with shows and I also get to do imaging. Win Win!
2. What's your opinion on the current state of play with regards to Radio Imaging?
I think it depends where you are in the world… Unfortunately over this side of the globe with all the networking going on in the UK, it means less opportunities for young, up and coming producers to give it a go or find work. Ireland is a small country and there are limited roles, but we’re always looking for people to bring up or train for cover work (send me your demo if this is you). Australia still has a lot of producers out in regional and smaller markets which is a great place to cut your teeth and practice the craft. It’s where I started.
I think as things like streaming become bigger with the younger generation and they’re listening to less radio, it means less people coming up will be interested in it… It’s a tough one ‘cause I don’t think radio is going anywhere and we’ll always need imaging. I think there will always be people who will be interested in it.
3. In 2019, what do you think is more important - creativity or technical ability (or both)
I 100% believe it’s both and here’s why…
As I mentioned above, we’re in the age of streaming. This means listeners are used to getting what they want, when they want! That means their attention spans are much shorter and they’re less willing to listen to something like a promo or a sweeper if it isn’t giving them anything. For that reason, creativity is important to engage with people and capture their attention.
On the technical side of things, we all love how things look/feel/sound in our everyday lives. Your phone or latest gadget, a t-shirt or any fashion… Anything you consume or purchase is better if it’s aesthetically pleasing. Sure there are cheaper less attractive versions out there, but the top of the range item is always the goal. It’s the exact same with hearing a piece of imaging. You can hear a funny breakfast promo and laugh at the content (creativity) but if you take that same promo and add music/SFX/design elements to enhance the promo and make it tell a story or take you on a journey, it will make it that much more engaging and sound that much better (technical).
4. What was the best tip you know now, that’d you wish you knew when starting out?
I will say with imaging, it’s one of those things that you just have to keep working at. It’s not just how much Pro Tools knowledge you have, you also have to understand radio and how a station flows. What goes where, what the message is and how you’re bringing the key elements to life. That is actually one of the biggest and most important parts of the job!
With imaging specifically, the more you do it, the better you get and the more you learn. I’m still learning almost 10 years into doing it. Trends change and you have to adapt your style or you hear something awesome and try to replicate how it sounded. Push yourself and listen to other people’s work for inspiration.
When I started out, I wish I knew that it would take time to master the skill and that I wasn’t gonna be a wizard over night (still not a wizard lol). The other thing that I’ve learned over time is, less is more. Even when trying to be hot. Layering a small amount of a bunch of effects is more affective than turning one plugin to 100!
Try to understand basic music theory and learn how to count beats.