Are You Working Hard or Hardly Working?

15 May

Recently I filled in for Joe Galuski on the WSYR Morning News program.

It was hard work.

So much for being told that radio is a lazy man’s profession.

Radio is content. Content requires preparation.

The morning show on WSYR starts at 5AM. Someone has to create the content that appears on the show. I found out fast that someone was ME.

One thing is certain, you can’t go on air at 5AM without doing a lot of preparation.

Our workday started around 3 AM.

Good radio requires constant preparation.

Gary Owens took notes into a little voice recorder whenever he saw something that might make a good bit on radio. He had files of material saved from the recorder notes.

The Jack Benny Show employed several writers and they wrote, then re-wrote the show over several days time. They re-wrote again after the Sunday morning rehearsal and sometimes re-wrote after the east coast performance . The west coast version was often different than the east coast show.

Jean Shepherd might take several weeks to write just one 45 minute show. He didn’t work from a script but instead had ideas, notes and names scribbled on paper. Shep’s thoughts were well planned and always knew how to wrap up when the theme music ended.

Each of these blog articles takes a couple of hours to write and re-write. Yet, they represent only 60 seconds of airtime if read on a radio show.

Gary Burbank put every bit through a process of writing, then re-writing, performing and editing.

Gary wrote early in the morning then arrived at the studio around ten. He wrote some more and recorded then edited in time for the show at 2pm and often continued writing at home in the evening.

The long time Cincinnati Personality Dusty Rhodes was the absolute best I ever saw at preparing a music show. He wrote every word for every break.

Dusty has notebooks filled with past shows all carefully scripted and organized.

No matter your style, careful preparation is key to success on radio. This is extremely important for the voice tracker who works in a world that is disconnected from your radio station.

Remember, many trackers begin their work from the disadvantage of not being in your station or city.

From my experience there are two kinds of voice trackers.

One will walk into the studio and just lay down tracks.

The other takes time to plan all of the breaks, creates great content and then goes into the studio to create a show.

Voice tracking is not easy work. It requires preparation and should make talent want to strive for perfection of content and performance.

Ask yourself some questions about your talent.

  • How much time are your trackers spending on each show? Are they doing a show or just laying down tracks?
  • Ask to see their show prep. It should be the same as if the show were going to be live.
  • Are you treating the voice tracker who works outside your station as a member of the staff?
  • How much help are you providing to your outside voice trackers?
  • Are your music logs loaded into the system several days in advance so the tracker can work ahead?
  • As Program Director be honest about your own show. Are you doing show prep or laying down tracks? What is your show performance communicating to the rest of your staff?
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Posted by on May 15, 2008 in Radio programming


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