CCM Coaching Tip #26: Raising The Board Op 'Bar'
September 30, 2016
by Tommy Kramer, KramerMedia.net
If you'd like to hear some really sloppy board op work and an almost comical level of quality control, it's certainly not hard to find. One of the worst culprits, unfortunately, is the CCM arena. Now obviously there ARE some really fine stations in our format where things do run smoothly - cue tones in the right places, levels perfect, etc. But the AVERAGE station's bar is set VERY low.
There's only ONE intro time on a song - and that's marked to where the vocal begins. NOT where it gets louder, or a drum roll hits. Where the VOCAL begins. Marking multiple intro times just makes your jocks sound bad, when they shut up because it's MARKED as a "post", but there's still a lot of music available to actually DO something over.
When you input songs, don't depend on the record company to have produced it well. HUGE spikes in volume result in the jock (especially if he or she is voice-tracked) to either be drowned out by the music, or to not do much on the intro since they FEAR being drowned out - which results in yet another "plain vanilla" break. Ugh.
- Your "Imaging" pieces should be fully produced, music or some sort of transitional sound effects beneath them, all the way through, to the end of the last word. The music shouldn't end BEFORE the last word. No, it does NOT make your station name stand out to go "dry voice" before the next song or element hits. It just kills your forward momentum, much like hitting the brakes for no reason when you're cruising down the highway. And no "stopping for dramatic effect" somewhere in the middle, either. Your Imaging should be ONE thought, delivered well, with music underneath it.
- There's a "last LOGICAL place" at the end of every song to hit the next thing and/or to begin talking. With a "soft cold" ending, where there's a musical note or chord hanging, wait until it starts to decay, then BOOM!..the next thing hits. With a song that has a "fade" ending, don't wait until we're hearing the air conditioning come on in the background. A good guide is to come in on the end of a line, even if there are a couple of words trailing off after that. MOMENTUM, you know. Remember, last LOGICAL place, not just the last place.
- NEVER start a concert spot with the intro of a song. People think you're going to play the song...then it turns out to just be a "commercial" (to the listener). She feels burned by this...just the opposite of what we want.
The average CCM station has at least one voice-tracked shift, and that's where the lack of quality control and work ethic show most. But the "automatic pilot" mentality is everywhere, really.
If you'd like to really get on your "A" game, run the board MANUALLY for a couple of weeks, to get a sense of what the right timing is - on every single thing that plays on the station.
No one will ever comment on it, but the listener WILL realize the difference when you're not asleep at the wheel. Great stations have NO mechanical errors, and have great Momentum. We're competing with EVERY other station on the dial (and TV, Pandora, Spotify, You Tube, iTunes, etc.). Let's make THEM sound robotic and loose.