Imaging: Starting from the Ground Up

By Denzil Lacey

I am one of those people lucky to be doing something I love. Radio Imaging is something I now live and breathe. Even outside of work I listen to Radio Imaging on the phone and check out stations worldwide to hear what they are doing. I believe that is one of the reasons I’ve improved so much over the years. However, that improvement never stops -- every day I learn something new, and that’s what makes the job so interesting and different.

A lot of people don’t know what Imaging is and means. I always tell people that I am the audio form of a graphic designer -- I create sounds, manipulate audio to make something sound big, bold and interesting.

How do you get into it? How do you get the gig, and how do you keep up with the ever changing Radio sector? It’s all about practice, time and dedication.

Getting Into It

Work experience and networking are the keys to getting a job in Radio Production and are two things I did a lot of to get where I am today. At a humble age of 15, I would spend my life harassing radio presenters and Programme Directors to get a tour of the radio studios, which then led to work experience and placements. These same people were the ones that hired me a few years later as they knew I was hungry, passionate and dedicated to doing work in radio.

I am now lucky to have met and know hundreds of radio imaging producers across the globe -- especially because I was asked to speak at The Imaging Days 2016 in Amsterdam. I go abroad a lot and these people are now my friends, I meet up with them, and we always nerd out! I never thought I would get to that stage, but here I am! I have a few places to cross off the bucket list -- the main one being New York to catch up with my buddy Staxx who is the Creative Services Director at Z100, New York.

Listening to radio production daily via SoundCloud and through traditional FM is also a hugely important part as we need to be inspired to be creative. Think of a music producer or a singer -- they both have received inspiration from somewhere to help them create their masterpieces. Don’t just copy them -- try to be better!

DAW Skills

The skills required in radio and audio production are not things you can pick up in college or school. This is done by doing it and doing a LOT of it. Having a DAW at home is hugely important, and practising for hours on end is the single best thing anyone can do to learn and improve. I set time aside every week to mess around in Pro Tools and pick up some cool new tricks that will benefit my work. If you pick up one new trick a month, it can really benefit you and speed up your work, which will make your daily job even more fun!

Pro Tools even offer a free DAW called Pro Tools First -- it is limited but it will give you a feel for how it works and performs. I was never lucky enough to have this software when starting out, and I was limited to Adobe Audition/Cool Edit, with which it can be harder to create amazing imaging in, but I feel that really helped me work harder and harder each day to create something half decent.

Scripting Skills

Software and Plugins are only half the battle. Scriptwriting is also extremely important, and if you have a bad script, the production won’t make up for it. Imagine your favourite comedy show or hit movie without a good script? Will it sell? No, it will get a negative reaction from the viewer, and they won’t watch it again. It’s the very same for your radio station. If you have poor content and scripts, the listener will just switch stations with the risk of never coming back. You really need to hit the listener each time with gold material to hook them in and keep them where you want them.

These skills can be picked up in many different ways -- watching movies and movie trailers are very good ways of learning the craft, as well as magazines, TV shows, comedy sketches, general conversations and pub chats! Get that script perfect and you are onto a winner.

Personal Skills

Anyone working in radio really needs to be a good team player. There are so many departments within programming, sales, news, admin and office staff that all come together and make the radio station what it is. So if you are good with working with teams, clients, listeners and contractors, then it will really work in your benefit. Get good relationships going with all players involved, and you will never be out of work a day in your life.

The advice I always give people wanting to get into the industry (or more specifically radio imaging) is to work very hard, network and meet the people who you want to work with. Be humble and never stop learning. None of us should ever stop learning, and that’s what drives us to be better and more competitive.

Denzil Lacey is the Production Director at Dublin’s No. 1 Radio Station, FM104. He has worked in radio production full time for the past six years. He spoke at The Imaging Days 2016 in Amsterdam and has some awards to his name. Visit www.denzillacey.com for more info.

Comments (1)

  1. Brian Haymond

No fluff, no bragging, no trying to impress – just good information that benefits the reader!

Kudos & Thanks,

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