Necessary Or Unnecessary
March 26, 2013
The first thing I do when working with an air personality is have a casual conversation and listen to them. These encounters provide insight into their verbal skills -- talking too fast, wordiness, phrasing, the use of voice, and the ability to express clearly. We are drawn to those who can effectively communicate. I can remember working for a PD who wrote lengthy memos. Seriously, we would get two pages on things which could have been said in one or two sentences. My on-air cohorts would quietly come to me to translate his literary masterpieces. I can still hear myself saying things like, "He wants us to say title and artist in our back-sells."
Every time you open the microphone, it's a chance to connect with both the passive and active listener. Give the audience a reason to stick around for the next moment on the radio. It might be a brief humorous back-sell concerning an artist or song or pre-promoting something coming up after the commercial break. Either way, the more times listeners can be persuaded to come back, there is a potential for increased ratings.
Jocks get in the habit of saying unnecessary things like, "Thanks for being here." It would be okay to say if it were attached to an event or something the audience took part in during the show. It is a very general statement without meaning. Now, if it were a part of a recorded promo receiving lots of impressions or a catch phrase, it might be something people would take to heart and associate with the jock or the station.
Necessary versus unnecessary ... what does it accomplish? The more the unnecessary is eliminated, the sharper the on-air moment and the show. There was a time when PPM and trends didn't exist; only two books a year were released and each rating period lasted only a few weeks. The programming goal was no mistakes. When you think of necessary versus unnecessary, extra words for no reason, focus on being word efficient. Radio is an inexact science, record every show and analyze your verbal presentation. A programming buddy of mine always says," You don't have to be funny or informative, and don't take long attempting either one."
Voicetracking is the new norm for our business. Complaining will do you no good, so you might as well learn how to do it right.
How do I make my voicetracking sound live? I have tried many different things, but ultimately there are certain things that will always be in the way (Lack of contests, time checks, up-to-date weather ... etc.).
Weekly syndicated shows rarely hold contests, do time checks or weather, yet frequently many casual listeners still think some of these shows are local. None of the things you mentioned in your question are necessary to sound local. In fact many live air shifts no longer do any of the things you mentioned.
You are an actor; know your lines and deliver them in a believable fashion. Whatever you're going to say, do it out loud before you record anything. It is a mindset; eventually with practice, you will be able to voicetrack talk-sets in one take. Your whole approach must be as if it were live -- do show prep, especially local stuff. I always suggest going back and listening to your first break for voice and energy levels. No cheating, you cannot re-record, it is going to take a lot of production room practice, but you will begin to sound live.
If you are voicetracking to another market, get the station or stations to provide the web address of the major local paper, TV stations, colleges, high schools, parks and points of interests. Once a week, try and connect with the OM or PD of the market for a 10-minute conversation to get a fee for things. In your show prep, check the website or sites of the station, any newspapers and one of the TV stations for any content you might be able to use.
I have been looking for the right situation to use this line delivered by Jimmy Fallon in the movie Almost Famous, "I didn't invent the rainy day man; I just own the best umbrella." Voicetracking is one of the new traditions in radio. Don't fight it, embrace the opportunity and become the best.