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Radio Station Idents
"Listen back to a tape of airchecks of station sound production from years ago, and no doubt you'll wet yourself laughing. Lazer zaps, levels all over the shop and acapellas that scare small children. Now of course station imaging is incredible. Never have idents and promos ever sounded so exciting.
I've never heard so much badly produced rubbish passed off as competent station imaging. The lack of ideas combined with poor execution results in a mess that does no favours for the station or the listener.
How many of the promos on air at your station repeat a line immediately, but with a TBU effect on it? Or an echo? How many promos and idents rely on clips of static, rewind effects, pitch shifting? Do your music montages feature three clips of music with an interference effect inbetween? Exactly.
The worst offenders are pre-recorded sponsorship idents and local client promotions. The point of this type of imaging isn't just to compliment output. It's to provide the listener with information. That's why the client is paying several hundred pounds a week, and they expect their advertising message to be clear.
Problem is, after most producers have finished buggering about with the voice, adding echo and sound effects to it, it's impossible to make out what it's saying. It sounds audible to you, because you know what it's saying. It's like misheard lyrics - once you know what the words actually are, it's easy to make them out and you wonder how you made the mistake in the first place. Except in this case, nobody's letting the listener in on it.
They are too few skilled audio producers, and too many stations willing to accept mediocre production, either because they can't get any better, or they don't know any better.
Less is more when it comes to station imaging. If you're
going to use effects, use them sparingly and for a reason. But remember
above all else that like presenters and copywriters, your job isn't just
to reflect the values of the station - it's to deliver information to
the listener, whether it's a sponsorship line, a competition mechanic
or the station's frequency."
This article has been abridged but was originally written in 2002 by someone whose name I've lost - if you know who it is - let me know!
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