PalmSprings.com Spotlight: An Interview with Dave Morgan, CEO of Reaction Productions

image-6Dave Morgan got his start as a morning news anchor at the local CBS affiliate in Syracuse, NY, before segueing into radio as a sales promotion executive with Clear Channel. Dave then created Reaction Marketing & Promotions. Establishing his primary clientele base in Los Angeles, he quickly acquired major entertainment industry accounts including: Warner Brothers Home Entertainment, Soapnet Channel, ABC Daytime & Prime Time, and Disney Theatrical. Additional credits include environment creations at Stagecoach, the Country Music Awards in Nashville, and the Fandango presence at Comic Con. 

Dave relocated to Greater Palm Springs in 2001, and continued to expand his company’s business spectrum with the development of Reaction Productions.  The production division handles live talent and show production reaching local, national and international play dates. Additionally, Talent Management handles and books talent appearances in Palm Springs as well as other major U.S. cities and international engagements—including stars such as Jennifer Holiday, Vikki Carr, Helen Reddy, Leslie Jordan, Judy Tenuta, and Varla Jean Merman.  Most recently, Dave acquired the account to provide the talent (including Broadway stars, comedians, singers, and novelty acts) year round at COPA, a new nightclub in Palm Springs. Dave is also an active Palm Springs philanthropist and will be honored in early 2015 by the Desert AIDS Project at their annual gala, the Steve Chase Awards.

Kate Buckley: Dave, where are you from originally and what brought you to the West Coast?

Dave Morgan:  I am originally from Boston…Go Sox!!!  A work transfer brought me to the West Coast and I love it!

KB: How did you come to start your own marketing, promotions and production company?

DM: I was working in radio and then sales promotion for the same radio company. We had 14 sales promotion offices across the country and I was heading up Los Angeles. Six months into the job, the company went through a merger and the new company did not want the sales promotion arm. I went to the company and asked if I could take the clients on my own, they didn’t have a problem with that and I got started.  The production company started later as more of the promotions we were working on needed production elements, things like staging, lights, sound and ultimately talent. So I saw an opportunity to bring both promotions and productions to clients under one roof.

KB: You were originally based solely in Los Angeles, and then you made your way to the desert. Why the decision to relocate to Palm Springs?

DM: I was just coming out to the desert every chance I could. I loved it and the landscape and personality of the desert, for me, provided the perfect location to think creatively and develop new ideas.

KB: Has the Palm Springs area been good for your business? Why or why not?

DM: Palm Springs has been great for my business—less from a business-to-business perspective, but more from a community perspective. There were things that I wanted to create within the community—events and shows that I would never have been able to in Los Angeles. The desert offers a great place to get ideas off the ground, and the infrastructure of partners that you can work with here in the desert really allows for new opportunities to happen.

KB: You’ve worked with a wide variety of interesting stars. Any interesting stories you can share?

DM: I got to meet and have a nice chat with Cher for my 40th birthday. It probably wasn’t nearly exciting for her as it was for me, but she was so friendly and gracious. The other highlight for me was Stevie Nicks—she is the real deal rock star.  We had done a show and then we had dinner at The House Of Blues and we just talked and talked like we had known each other for years. Both amazing women!

KB: How did you get involved with handling/booking talent for COPA, and how do you source your talent?

DM: I have always wanted to have a venue where I could book live entertainment.  I felt like Palm Springs needed an intimate space where people could see great talent and COPA provided that.  I have known the owners for quite a while as I eat at Tropical often, when they told me about COPA, I pretty much begged them to let me have the room for shows and they did. It has been great. The talent we have been able to bring in with our proximity to LA helps a lot.  I am sort of a pop culture junkie so I see who is doing what and make booking decisions based on that. I particularly love “older” performers and when I say older, I don’t mean they are old.  They have just been in the business for a long time, and the way they know how to play a room just makes them so classy. It’s interesting to see “younger” performers still learning, and how they really try and implement some of the stylings of those that came before them. I really enjoy booking performers that have been in the business for a long time and are still out there doing it, they instantly garner my respect and adoration.  Love them!

KB: Any additional exciting projects on the horizon?

DM: We are working on some big holiday things for clients right now, plus we have “Dancing With The Desert Stars” coming up in November, so it’s going to be a busy 4th quarter.

KB:  Dave, I understand you’re also quite active in Palm Springs philanthropy, including launching the Taste of Palm Springs for AIDS Assistance Program and the Dancing with the Desert Stars on behalf of the Desert AIDS Project and their internal organization, 100 Women (providing assistance and funding to women and children living with HV/AIDS). How did you come to create and produce these events?

DM: So much of my work is outside my community—I wanted to do something in Palm Springs, that I would enjoy doing, that I thought the community would like and most importantly could do some good. These events came out of those thoughts. I have never been the best fundraiser, as far as asking people for money. I knew that, so I just took a different approach. I created events that, by others attending, raised money without me having to ask for it. It worked for them and for me. I think the work of non-profits and charities and more so the people working for those organizations can be the toughest and often thankless jobs, so anything I can do to support their dedication and work, I am in!

KB: And you’re being honored for these important philanthropical contributions in early 2015 by the Desert AIDS Project at their annual gala, the Steve Chase Awards. Congratulations! What do you view as your most important contribution?

DM: My most important contribution is being consistent. They can count on my every year to help support the work that they do. I think that is where we can all help—it’s not about how much, it’s not about how often.  It’s really about making the commitment and being consistent, just my thought!

KB: Dave, what do you love most about Palm Springs?

DM: The open space, the small town feel with the hints of big city sophistication.  It’s really a special place!

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