There's seemingly a world of difference between 1996 Moeller grad/class president Rick Vance and WEBN's music director/resident lunatic known everywhere as The Dude. But beneath the surface they're actually quite close philosophically. A good thing, since they inhabit the same body.
Vance joined the Rock radio powerhouse in 1998, gaining an internship with "The Dawn Patrol" by becoming Eddie Fingers' drinking buddy. For over a year, Vance took every crazy street assignment the promotions department could envision. Simultaneously, he was learning radio mechanics in a way that couldn't be taught in college or broadcasting school, both of which he tried for a combined five weeks.
After securing a part-time position in promotions, Vance attached himself to the station's music director, becoming his unofficial assistant and ultimately having sway over the station's playlist. In 2000, Vance became the station's MD helped WEBN skew the demographics to a younger category while maintaining their older numbers. For his efforts, Vance has been named Radio and Records' Music Director of the Year four years running.
At the same time, Vance's activities in Cincinnati's music community exposed him to the local scene.
The passion he'd always felt for music in general blossomed in a similar fashion for area bands. When Bill Donabedian and Sean Rhiney came to WEBN for radio support for the Midpoint Music Festival, his consciousness was raised exponentially.
"That really opened my eyes to the independent music scene," says Vance. "I didn't realize it was so active in our backyard. I started to think, 'How can I get some attention for this here in Cincinnati and possibly some national attention?"
Vance offered to compile a CD's worth of local talent for Budweiser's "True Music" campaign, resurrecting a concept akin to the long dormant WEBN "Album Project" from the '70s and '80s. With the success of two Bud True Music discs and Midpoint's viability in hand, Vance petitioned Clear Channel for a local music show on WEBN.
"I don't know if you've ever tried to get anything through a corporate chain before, but it's not the easiest process," says Vance. "You constantly have to come up with a formula of how you plan on doing this, who your target market is and why this is going to be a success."
Clear Channel finally relented — Native Noise, Vance's weekly local showcase, airs on WEBN's Sunday night schedule at 11 pm. In addition to playing a variety of local acts, Vance also features a local band in the studio to talk about their music.
Vance was also instrumental in attracting the recent Zippo Hot Tour local band competition to town. Zippo felt Cincinnati was too small to compete with other cities, but Vance convinced them otherwise; Cincinnati's winner, The Times, finished in second place overall among the 10 national finalists.
Vance's biggest local music project is his new television show, XLTV. Currently airing Saturday afternoons at 4 p.m. on UPN affiliate WBQC-TV 38, XLTV is Vance's crown jewel of local music involvement. The show aired last year without Vance, but it was more focused on local events against a backdrop of national music videos. Vance has helped 30 area bands film their own videos, which he airs on the show. In addition to spotlighting local music, Vance visits local events and hot spots as bumpers between music features. XLTV is already about halfway through its 13-week commitment and he and the production company are currently in negotiations to secure a second season of the show next year.
"It's like a day in the life of The Dude, and different scenes that people are into and the music that goes along with it," says Vance. "We try to tie in with, 'Hey, if you're a part of this scene, you might like this band ... check it out,' and we show a video. My goal has been to tie all the loose ends together, create a buzz around the local music scene and focus on the bands that are working hard. There are a lot of basement bands out there, but it takes getting out of your basement and getting into the scene and being involved in the scene." ©