Thanks to Dennis Daniel for his April essay. I wish it had come a day earlier, though. I read it Friday afternoon. It could have saved me from some uncomfortable moments with my General Manager on Friday morning.
WLAP-FM changed format Friday morning (4/3) from a hot CHR to a mellow, very adult AC. The PD and the consultant heard the produced liners, promos, etc., but the GM didn't. Our format change began at 7 a.m.. By 8 a.m., the GM had rejected every piece I'd prepared in the week prior. Needless to say, I lost it and almost lost my job. Thanks Dennis, for bringing it all back into perspective.
Scott M. Statham, Production Director
WLAP-AM/WMXL-FM, Lexington, KY
My staff and I enjoy our monthly perusal of R.A.P.. ...I have personally learned a great deal from what I have read between your few, monthly pages.
Regarding David Witz's SPX-90 "3-D" tip in the March '92 "Tips & Techniques" section -- with all due respect to Mr. Witz -- this 3-D effect "may" be mono compatible; monkeys "may" fly out of my butt, too!
Seriously, the described parameter settings leave the voice track(s) sounding too ethereal, too unnatural -- both in stereo and with the channels summed.
I can appreciate the desire to exaggerate the stereo image, but eliminating the center from the "stereo picture" is rarely a good idea, except for brief periods -- maybe for emphasis in the space of a few words or one line. The ideal "stereo picture" should resemble a hemispheric dome, a semi-circle, which you'll be really hard pressed to present with no center track!
Unfortunately, most of us make the same mistakes when we "get our hands on" (Mr. Witz's words) an SPX-90 or similar device for the first time. We process the cR.A.P. out of everything regardless of content so that every spot sounds like a monster truck commercial. You get guys who want to use flange and pitch shift on funeral home spots! The key words with regard to correctly using digital effects processors are "subtlety" and "prudence" (unless you happen to be producing a pyro-tech station promo or monster truck spot!).
Since 1987, I've run the gamut of the Yamaha SPX series, beginning with my first SPX-90, to an SPX-90II, and now the SPX-1000. I've wrung these machines inside out, time and time again, and have what I would consider an intimate knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses. During the last five years, I've developed some pretty funky settings of my own and have come up with what I've found to be the most natural sounding of all the exaggerated stereo (voice track) settings I've heard to date. I call it "SPECTRUM SPREAD."
"Spectrum Spread" (on the SPX-1000) begins with "L,C,R DELAY PROGRAM #11." The settings are:
Left Delay: 0.1ms
Right Delay: 20.0ms
Center Delay: 10.0ms
Center Channel Level: +60%
Naturally, the individual settings can be modified to suit each individual's tastes, and like any other effect, this should be used judiciously.
I'd like to leave your readers with a really novel concept which many may find hard to swallow: Just for a change of pace, why don't we try producing stuff for the sake of making our clients and listeners happy, NOT for the sake of blowing away the other Production Directors? Wouldn't that be great? Naaaaahhhhh!
Sean O'Neel, Creative Services Director
KLDE-FM, Houston, TX
...my compliments on the March '92 issue. I found the focus on the legal aspect of copyright violation very thought provoking, as did my GM. I couldn't agree more with the thought that as artists, we must respect other people's art. Most of the stuff done in radio production throughout North America is just schlock -- get it out and on the air ASAP. When we as producers take the time to do a spot or a promo so it's just right, it becomes our little artistic "masterpiece." By adding the "colors" of sound effects, music, or zips and zaps, we are "painting" or "sculpting" our work of momentary art. If I copied a Monet and called it my own work, I'd probably be arrested. I know that I feel guilty using music that I don't have copyright clearance for. We all do it at one time or another, but my point is don't do it all the time, and if you must, use the most obscure piece you can find.
...It was most interesting to read the R.A.P. Interview with Poppy Sundeen in the April issue. She has some theories I agree with, some I don't, but worth every minute. This type of interview is EXACTLY what I look for in every R.A.P. -- more information on one specific area of radio commercial production. MORE PLEASE! Our two copywriters both enjoyed this interview as much as I did.
April's column by Dennis Daniel (Tales of the Tape) should be framed and on the wall of every radio production studio. This was, without a doubt, his best column yet!
Craig Jackman, Production Director
CHEZ-FM, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada