H3000B = 25-Hour Broadcast Day
by Jerry Vigil
As promised, in our Tips & Techniques section we plan to offer tips to users of specific pieces of equipment. The popularity of Eventide's H3000B Ultra-Harmonizer makes it a good unit to pick on, so here's a tip for the bold user of this machine.
If you have an H3000B, you've probably played around with the Time Squeeze program. You've probably used it to squeeze a 65 second spot down to 60 seconds, or maybe you've used it to simply make someone talk faster than they actually can. This following tip takes the power of the Time Squeeze program to its max. We are unaware of anyone using the machine in this way, and we couldn't resist putting the idea out there for consideration.
The Time Squeeze program of the H3000B works very well, and it is very clean if it is not used to a great degree. In a nutshell, what this tip suggests is putting the Time Squeeze on your entire on-air program, speeding up all program material, less the mike, by 5%, and reducing the pitch of all program material by 5%. In effect, what this gives you is a 25.2 hour broadcast day. What it would normally take you 25.2 hours to broadcast can now be done in 24 hours. This can mean one extra song per hour! Now who plays the most music?!!
For those who still speed up turntables and variable speed CD players to get a more "energetic" sound, this may well be the best way to do it. All the music will be sped up by 5%, but unlike simply speeding up a turntable, the pitch of the music remains the same. Male vocalists don't begin to sound like females; Only the tempo of the music is changed. 5% is a figure that works well with the H3000B, but good results were achieved pushing it as high as 8% in some experimental test runs we did. "Squeezing" the audio much more than this increases the amount of noticeable glitching.
Okay, the idea sounds interesting, but what about actually doing it? We talked with Gerry Dalton, R.A.P. technical consultant, to explore the possibilities. The major concern was the actual hookup. This will vary depending upon how your station's control room is set up. For this example, let's assume the control room has six cart machines from which all commercials, promos, jingles and songs are played. Many cart machines, ITC's for example, have the necessary electronics to vary the speed of their playback by using the 9600Hz output on the back of the H3000B. This is the output that the Time Squeeze program uses to automatically adjust the speed of a tape machine as the pitch is adjusted on the H3000B. Ideally, six H3000B's would be hooked up to each of the six cart machines. (One H3000B per cart machine is best to avoid having to control output levels of all machines from just one fader.) Each cart machine would be set for external speed control, and the H3000B would be set to speed up the machines by 5%. The outputs of each machine would go to one of the H3000B's where the pitch of the audio would be reduced by 5%. The outputs of each H3000B would then go to the cart inputs on the console.
A new problem arises at this point: All the times on the cart labels are going to be longer than the actual playing time of the cart. Solution: Most digitimers, like many watches and clocks, have an adjustment to set the timer if it is running fast or slow. We checked with Autogram and discovered that the digitimer in their consoles is adjustable by plus or minus 10%. This timer simply needs to be set to run 5% faster than normal. Once that's done, all times on the cart labels will match the time on the digitimer.
Of course, another option to this tip is to just have one H3000B in a dubbing studio and dub all spots and music through the Time Squeeze. To do the conversion right, you would have to re-cart everything in the control room. For a station with a large library of music and plenty of spots, this would be quite a task, but this is obviously the less expensive route to take. We include spots in this tip because they add up to a good deal of your broadcast day. For example, if you have 12 minutes of spots per hour and compress that time by 5%, the result is a savings of over 14 minutes of air time per day.
There are many possibilities with this idea, and there are several ways to apply it to different situations. This is just the basic idea, and we'd be interested to know what any of you think of it. We'd be more interested to hear about anyone using the H3000B to extend their broadcast day.
If you have any questions about using the H3000B this way, feel free to give us a call. We'll be happy to search out any particular information necessary to do the hookup at your station.
Homemade RAB Spots
The following letter comes from subscriber Gail Shetler, Production/Continuity Manager at WZZP/Zip 104FM in South Bend, Indiana.
I'm sending you a tape of our localized RAB "Radio Gets Results" spots. A lot of stations in my market are only running the pre-produced spots from RAB. We now have a total of 9 WZZP/RAB spots, plus two more in the works. These are easy to put together, but it is time consuming. Our AE's invite clients in, and we set up a time to record. We have them just talk for about ten minutes onto tape, transcribe the copy, decide what pieces to use, cut it all up, lay down some tracks, have the announcer cut the intro/close, and BINGO! These have been very effective for us. Usually, June and July are slow months, but since we've been running these RAB spots, we've been consistently oversold. I had to order a new filing cabinet to hold all the new client copy! So get to work out there. The spots really do work!
Thanks for the tip, Gail. The pre-produced RAB spots are generally pretty good spots, but you can't beat custom made spots that speak directly to your market. When Mr. Businessman hears his fellow businessman raving about Zip 104FM, it seems to have a greater impact than your basic Herb Tarlick pitch from your sales staff!
Thanks also for the tape. We've made room on this month's Cassette to give our readers a sample of what you're doing there. Good luck and keep up the good work!
By the way, this seems like a good place to refer to a previous tip about using a portable R-DAT as a portable studio. The actualities from the clients might come off better if you were to go to the client's place of business, take him to his office or a quiet place in the store, and do the brief interview. He might feel more comfortable in his surroundings as opposed to a studio atmosphere. Plus, the quality of the R-DAT digital recording will be just as good, if not better, than the studio recording. You might pick up sounds from the guy's store, but that could be a nice effect to have anyway. Just a little more food for thought.
Production Director Courtesy
by Jerry Vigil
Every now and then, and only at stations here and there, a salesperson will bring you a cassette. On this cassette, he will tell you, is the spot that starts tomorrow. Of course, you hate having to pull a spot off a cassette. The quality usually isn't there. Nevertheless, a frantic Sales Manager eager to meet his quota will insist upon the dub being made from the cassette. You oblige.
As you're loading the cassette, you notice the label on it. The cassette is from another station in your market, maybe even a competitor. You ponder. "I wonder if this was the cassette given to the client for his files, or is this station really hurting so much that they have to send dubs out on cheap cassettes." Since the station is number one in your market, you conclude the cassette came from the client. Being the thoughtful Production Director that you are, you wonder if your colleague across the street knows his spot is about to air on your station. It's not that you have the time to mess with this, but you're a nice guy, right? So, you make the call and find out that the spot has not been purchased by the client for airplay on any other stations in the market. The other Production Director thanks you for informing him of this little event and asks that you hold the spot until you hear from him. He hangs up, picks the phone back up, and tries to collect a talent fee. In the meantime, it's five o'clock, and you could leave if you would just dub the cassette to cart and label it. You wonder if you should have called the other guy to begin with.
Those of you who believe in Karma will appreciate this. Imagine the coin turned the other way. You're driving to work, listening to the competition, and suddenly your spot is on their air! You're hot! You step on the gas in a hurry to get to work. You have something to say to the AE that has this account. That cassette you dubbed for this client was for the client's files, not for the other station! You get to the station, go round and round with the salesperson, round and round with the client, and things get settled one way or the other. What a way to start your day! As you head down the hall to your little room, you curse the Production Director at that other station. "Aren't those guys smart enough to know I wouldn't send a dub to them on cassette?!!!"