I’ve had Melodyne in my audio production arsenal for many years and have used it only occasionally to play around with for radio imaging voice overs. It’s main purpose of course is to fix out of tune singers in music production. I call it the more beautiful sister of Auto-Tune.
The other day a friend of mine sent me a video interview his son had done with Dr. Gerald H. Pollack talking about The Fourth Phase of Water [video]. The interview was well done, good questions, great information, nicely edited but at one point in the video the thing all sound guys fear the most when doing these kinds of documentary interviews, outside the location a truck started backing up! Beep, beep, beep, beep….
While it’s understandable given the location and while slightly annoying, I thought it would have been better to find a way to get rid of it in post production. The best they could have done was to play with the EQ and try to knock it down a bit so it wasn’t as harsh…but then I had a thought!
I opened up a new session in ProTools and imported the video with it’s audio track. Loaded the Melodyne plug in on the audio track and voila! There it was as clear as day…!
I highlighted it and hit delete. And as simple as that, the sound of the backing up truck was gone! Amazing!
Of course there is a bit of EQ tweaking to do but for the most part Melodyne had done the job.
Try it out next time you have the same issue, you’ll be amazed too!
Watch the video below to see it in action.
— David Tyler (@DavidTylerVO) January 18, 2016
I remember the scene vividly. It was the Christmas episode of WKRP called “Bah, Humbug” (Episode 0052 to be exact) a WKRP version of ‘A Christmas Carol’. In the episode Mr. Carlson is haunted by the three ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. Dr. Johnny Fever, as the ghost of Christmas future, shows Mr. Carlson that the station has become totally automated, in fact Herb, who has taken to talking to himself is the only employee left. At the time I saw this I wasn’t working in radio but thought, ‘what a sad thing to happen’!
Well folks get your bags and get ready to disembark because we have arrived at Christmas future! While it takes more than one person to run our radio stations our on air product has become as homogenous as a computer chip generated playlist could make it. We only play the songs that have been tested and we only test the songs that are already being played by everyone else, not wanting to ‘take a chance’ on an unproven song. The focus of our marketing is on the morning show because that’s the only live, local part of our day…if that. To make it worse new radio talent isn’t being developed or can’t be developed because of the state of radio. Does this really mean that radio is dead? Not necessarily.
What radio has failed to learn are the tricks that marketers have been using for decades, despite having the concepts poured out right in front of us in the form of national commercials. So what can we learn from them? Simply put, ‘Branding’!
Understand How Your Audience Sees You
McDonalds made a mistake when it introduced the ‘adult meal’ because they forgot how their customers saw them…as a restaurant for kids. While it made sense for them to introduce a McMeal for adults, after all it is adults who are bringing their children to eat at the golden arches.
Speak To Your Audience
Back in the days when there were no other real entertainment options it was easy for radio to take itself too seriously, believing listeners to be mere minions cowering beneath powerful broadcast towers. Well, it’s not so much like that anymore. Speak to your listeners in a human voice, both in your promos and imaging as well as your live on-air presentations. As often as possible include the listeners point of view in your promos. Stop trying to “sell” your listener and talk to them as an equal.
Whenever you sit down to write promos/liners keep your ‘brand’ in mind and never stray from the vision of who your listeners believe who you are.
One of the advantages we have over the Coca-Cola’s of the world is that we ARE a broadcast medium. So why don’t we use that to our advantage?
Branding your radio station should be the singular focus of your ‘anti-Christmas Future’ efforts to increase market share and to make yourself stand out as a viable entertainment option for your audience. Here’s one last thought to help motivate you: imagine your sales director running your radio station, alone from a single computer terminal…scary thought? Get to work on your brand quick!
— David Tyler (@DavidTylerVO) October 27, 2015
Admittedly, one of the hardest things for radio people to do is to listen to their radio station the way a listener listens, but it remains a crucial skill that broadcaster’s need to develop before they can properly brand their radio station.
For far too long radio programmers have thought they heard listeners say they wanted “Less Talk, More Rock”, yet that was an over simplification of what listeners were asking for from their radio station.
With radio’s ever increasing competition from satellite, streaming, and internet radio, not to mention a flotilla of other entertainment options like digital TV, home theater and video games, we have to better understand what listeners come to our stations for and echo that proposition in our imaging statement.
It doesn’t matter how hard you want to be “The Rock Station That REALLY Rocks”, if the audience doesn’t see you as being that then you will only be “The Rock Station That THINKS It Really Rocks”. Branding begins in the consumers mind so the first step to better branding is to understand how we are perceived.
What’s For Dinner
As an entertainment option, let’s try to understand why people turn to radio. Imagine this: You and your significant other go out to a restaurant for dinner with a couple of friends. What are you actually going out for, the food? Not necessarily. While the food is the object of the get together, it isn’t the reason for getting together, you want to talk, catch up and share stories. In the same way, your listeners are coming to you for the music (or information if you are a News/Talk station) but what’s making them stay and what compels them to come back time and time again? As I’ve said in other articles, songs (or information) are the bricks of this ‘radio house’ if you will, but what holds it all together is the mortar…what’s holding your ‘radio house’ together?
Better Radio Imaging Through Better Understanding
So how does all of this relate to imaging your radio station? As soon as you realize that the reason your listeners are listening to your radio station isn’t just for the music you’ll see that “Less Talk, More Rock” isn’t a very good way to brand yourself in fact it’s quite limiting. Saying that you play “10 Songs In A Row” or “100 Songs In A Row” for that matter, doesn’t cut it either. If that’s what they really want they’ll just plug into their iPod and get 1,000 songs in a row! It’s necessary to understand what makes your listener listen and then give them that wrapped up neatly in your imaging. If your audience’s understanding of what your station is doesn’t match yours then ask yourself why? Then decide if you should change your station or adjust your imaging to match your listener’s expectations.
Time to Rethink
Branding is an art that honestly, most radio people haven’t mastered yet. You need to capture your listener’s imagination while reflecting their perceptions. To help make my point I use this example often: if a radio person were in charge of coming up with the imaging statement for Coca-Cola it would be something like, “Your Favourite Blend of Sugar, Water and Artificial Coca Flavouring”. Uh, yeah, that’s what it is, but how is it perceived in the mind of the consumer? It’s seen as being the number one Cola on the market, they defined what all Cola’s are, Coca Cola was the first cola drink most of us ever experienced, which is why it is better branded as: “The Real Thing”.
- The Hudson’s Bay Company isn’t branded as “Cloths, Perfume, Kitchen Appliances and Furniture”, it’s branding statement is “More Than You Came For”
- Hewlett Packard is not “Printers” it’s imaging statement is “Invent”
- Bell Mobility isn’t “Cell Phones and Accessories” it’s “We Are All Connected”
- Microsoft isn’t “Computers”, it’s “Where Do You Want To Go Today”
Do you see how brand savvy companies have captured the spirit of how the consumer sees their product? So why would you brand your radio station as being the station that “Plays Your Favourites Of The 70’s 80’s, 90’s and Now”. It’s time to rethink the way you brand your radio station. Ask yourself, what is the unique proposition that you can offer a listener. Or better yet ask your listener what they think of your radio station.
While a perceptual study is a good idea I would never rely entirely on its outcome, the way they are done can be misleading. Remember it was a focus group that gave us “Less Talk, More Rock”… That being said listen to what your jocks are saying about the calls they get, at public events strike up a conversation with a listener or even hang around in the lobby and listen to what contest winners are saying about the station to your receptionist. You may be surprised at what you actually hear your listeners say about your station…because it won’t be about the food!