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  • Writer's pictureDrake Donovan

Conclave41 & ReelMIX 2016: A Triple-A Rating For Access, Affordability, And Awesomeness!

Conclave 41 & ReelMIX2016: A Triple A Rating For Access, Affordability & Awesomeness

The sun is rising over Miami and I’m in an Uber on the way to the airport; anxious to get home and apply what I learned at the first ever ReelMIX gathering for radio imaging pros! It’s been my experience that production gets no respect. In our own buildings and in our own companies, producers are always the last to know and expected to make magic happen on little to no notice. That’s why this event was so welcomed and well attended. This was a long-time coming for radio production, especially imaging.

As someone who knows what kind of effort it takes to put on an event like this through my association with The Conclave, I was quite impressed at what Reelworld and the Mix Group did in this inaugural event. So many moving parts: 125 guests, 2 host hotels, an offsite meeting place, lots of lights, computers, video and sound equipment, and plugins…lots and lots of plugins! That was really the only noticeable hiccup in the entire 2-day event, when the master class presenters had CPU errors in the middle of playback due to the abundance of plugins in use. That, and a pesky stage mic that needed a stand by day two.

Over the past 8 years, I’ve attended several of the major radio conferences our industry holds annually: NAB/RAB in Philly, CRS in Nashville, WWRS in LA, Country Cares in Memphis and eight editions of the Conclave in Minneapolis. My two favorites are the Conclave and ReelMIX. What is it about these two events, one it its 41st year, the other in its first, that appealed to me? Both are about three things that I value as a radio person: access, affordability and awesomeness. First is the access.

Conclave has always been a place with a broad cross-section of radio people. From top management folks like Market Managers, SVPs/EVPs, and CEOs, to DJs, production directors and promotions directors, to the students and interns, Conclave serves to give access to our industry’s thought leaders and foster a community of sharing and learning among markets big and small. The same can be said for the first edition of the ReelMIX. It gave all of us imaging professionals access to the biggest names in radio imaging like Dave Foxx, Eric Chase, John Frost, Dr. Dave Ferguson, Rachel McGrath and others. It also afforded access among attendees to our colleagues from 18 different countries. The networking aspects of these events alone are worth the price of admission, which is the second ‘A’ of my Triple-A rating.

After registration & hotel for both ReelMIX and Conclave41 I personally spent less on each than the current registration for CRS 2017. Since many radio pros have a hard time trying to get their company to pay their way, the out of pocket expense is more reasonable for these two events than any other radio conference for the rank and file to attend. On top of that, the value you get for your money.

If you’re paying your own way, you have to look at it as an investment in yourself. Whether you’re a jock that wants to migrate into a programming role, a programmer looking to move up in market size, or in the case of ReelMIX, a producer who wants to learn how production virtuosos like Andy Jackson, Staxx, Dom Nero & David Konsky make that magic that they make, you have to attend meetings like these to network and share. Because to further your career these days, it’s less about who you know and more about who knows you and what it is you do.

The final ‘A’ is for “Awesomeness”. During the entire ReelMIX 2016, I found myself saying ‘wow’. I figured that I would pick up a thing or two about radio imaging that I didn’t already know but these guys were providing answers to questions that I didn’t even know I had! Also, the Reelworld and Mix Group teams provided us lowly producers and voice talents with an experience reserved for only the upper echelons of radio programming and management. From the continental breakfasts and catered lunches (two awesome food trucks at the meeting site), Jason Garte, Mike Thomas and their respective groups also had two cocktail hours in between sessions! A great way to limber up for the final panels on each of the two days: “Write Good” and “Show Me The Funny”.

Conclave also provides that “wow” factor with its carefully constructed agenda that is not format specific so as to give actionable takeaways for its broad range of attendees. Between the “Ask Me (almost) Anything” Keynote address and the “Speed Mentoring Breakfast” Conclave goers get to hear some candid things from some of the highest ranking folks in our medium. To hear Mary Quass, CEO of NRG Media, saying how she’d love to play fewer commercials followed by the gasps from the crowd was truly memorable!

There are so many smart, talented, creative people in our industry and you can only be exposed to a fraction of their brilliance through streaming their work or engaging with them on social media. It takes going to events like The Conclave and ReelMIX to truly appreciate them and get a better sense of where you fit in the radio world. So be on the lookout for information about the 2017 incarnations of ReelMIX and The Conclave and make plans to attend at least one of them, if not both. You’ll be a better professional for it. That I can guarantee!

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