from Brian Kelsey, Production Director, WAXQ-FM, Q104.3, New York, NY.
Did you ever see the Seinfeld episode where George and Jerry are creating a TV show...about nothing?
About four months ago, I left my job at a small station in Connecticut to become Production Director at Q-104.3 in New York City, only five months after their format change from Classical to Contemporary Hard, Hard rock. A dream come true! The Big Apple! Market Number One! Me! The promos and liners will scream with whizbangs, laser shots, and movie and TV drops galore -- my specialty! Ummmm, no. Not really. In fact, not at all.
Upon my arrival to work with my suitcase full of whizbangs, bells, whistles, and TV drops, my Program Director and "voice" of Q-104.3, Bob Elliot, closed my suitcase and opened my ears to something different: NOTHING. Actually, it's more like, silence. Silence? Whhhhhat? Ya' mean no laser snorts and "Tom Vu Instant Success" infomercial drops? No. He explained to me that the liners, sweepers, and promos should all be produced just like he reads them...extremely quiet and subdued, many silent pauses and not much production -- "to make them stand out" he said. And it really made sense. Think about it. The station is loud and aggressive twenty-four hours a day. If all of the other programming elements are the same, they won't stand out. It's like when you fall asleep to the TV. What happens when someone shuts it off? You wake up. Your ears are introduced to silence...to NOTHING, therefore it stands out and grabs your attention, waking you up.
Now, from a Production Director's standpoint, this type of creative production may not sound like a whole lot of fun, but it really is. It just takes a little getting used to, and it could be right for your station's format. It's a matter of properly timed pauses in between words, few and far between transient sound effects or music cuts, and the use of different quiet beds like wind, crickets, and silence. To impact certain points in the copy, the music cuts must be creatively placed, and it helps to use weird parts of songs, not just the hooks you hear a million times on the radio. It all makes the promo different than the average, "WROK presents (SFX) Pantara! (song hook up then under)...."
Give it a try. It might just be the thing you've been looking for to stand out from the rest -- using NOTHING....