by Craig Rogers
Ron Shapiro of KIIS/Los Angeles dips back into his archives for a promo he produced for the first ever "KIIS and Unite" concert in 1993. As always with Producer's VU, you can hear the promo on The Cassette and get all the details on its production in these pages.
The first KIIS and Unite benefit concert was set up to bring the radio station alive on stage with the performers. Three stages were set up on a turntable. One act would play and when they finished, the stage turned to reveal a real KIIS on-air studio with air talent. After the talent had pumped the crowd and intro'd the next act, the stage turned again and the next act was ready to perform. Such an ambitious event required ambitious promos as well.
This promo is the third in a series. The central premise to the series was "The guy behind the speakers" conceived and voiced by then KIIS PD Jeff Wyatt. Each promo in the series was a little psychedelic trip that pulled the listener behind the speakers and focused on a different area of the station as they prepared for the KIIS and Unite concert. This promo takes us into the KIIS music library to check out some of the artists who will be performing at the show.
Ron was working in the analog domain when this promo was produced. His studio then was outfitted as follows: Pacific Recorders ABX-26 console with built-in de-esser and compressor and limiter on the mike channel, JBL 4111 speakers, JBL Console 1 near field speakers, Auratone speakers for cue, Sennheiser MKE4032-P3 mike, Otari MX-70 8-track (1" machine), (2) MCI JH 110 series reel-to-reels, Tascam DA-30 DAT, Revox cassette deck (model number unknown), Carver PDR-10 CD recorder, Yamaha Rev 7 reverb unit, Eventide H3000B Ultra Harmonizer, DBX 165 over-easy compressor/limiter, Symetrix 525 compressor/limiter, Aphex Compellor, Aphex Aural Exciter Type C, Dynafex noise reduction, Orban 622B parametric EQ, Studer telephone hybrid, DigiCart II digital audio recorder, (3) ITC series 99 cart machines (includes 1 record unit), dual Sony CDP-3000 CD players, Technics SP-1300 CD player, Technics SP-15 turntable, E-MU Systems Emulator Three keyboard/sequencer.
Almost all music on the promo is from the Mirage package from Brown Bag. It would have been hard to find anything fresher; when Ron produced this promo, the Mirage package was only two days old! The effects of the liquid pouring, the drips and Mexican beans rattling came from Mirage, Cartoon Trax, and the Hanna Barbera library.
Music and sound effects for the most part bounce from tracks 3 and 4 to 5 and 6. There are a lot of beds and effects packed in this promo. Ron says that made for some tight punch-ins. He would utilize 7 and 8 occasionally.
Ron recorded Jeff's voice and the female voice (Jeff's assistant, Allison Oswell) on 1/4" tape at 15ips. Processing was through the built in de-esser and compressor on the PR&E board. The Rick Dees drop-in was pulled from an air check.
The first part of Jeff's v/o, up to our trip behind the speakers, is transferred dry to tracks 1 and 2 on the 8-track running at 30ips. Even though the voice is in mono at the open of the promo, it will be stereo once we're behind the speakers. Ron takes advantage of the punch-in pan settings on his PR&E board to preset the pans for 1 and 2 to 8 o'clock and 4 o'clock respectively. If he leaves the pan buttons off, the tracks are mono. When he punches-in the buttons, the pans take effect and the effects spread across the field. To ease in to the effect, Ron recorded part of the voice track with effects to 7 and 8 panned just slightly off center. During the transition, he uses all four tracks to gradually go from mono on 1 and 2 ("behind"), to a slight stereo spread on 7 and 8 ("the") and then to his full stereo spread which he has recorded with effects back on 1 and 2 ("speakers"). Ron calls it "audio morphing."
The effect used on the announcer as we squeeze behind the speakers is a modification of Harmonizer program #108 UltraTap. Ron turned the master delay to 32%, the diffuser to 70%, and feedback down to 8%. While behind the speakers, all the music and voice tracks are recorded to the 8-track through this modified UltraTap program.
When the Patty Smyth clip is playing, listen for the word "just" in the lyrics becoming the beginning of Allison's v/o. Ron wanted it to sound as if Patty Smyth herself had pulled out of the music to become the announcer. More audio morphing! Allison's v/o is done to tracks 7 and 8.
When she mentions the price of tickets, the announcer is surprised and rewinds the promo to double check. Ron had the music bed continuous under this section. He simply punched out the music when Jeff's voice started and then punched back in after the rewind effect and just before the female voice started again. The rewind effect is from the Hanna Barbera sound effects library.
When it's time to come back to the real world from behind the speakers, Ron again utilizes tracks 7 and 8 to ease the transition from stereo to mono. The effect behind the transition is a squeaking balloon effect and cork pop from the Hollywood Edge Cartoon Trax. The whispered ID element at the end is something of a mystery. Ron says he found a reel in a KIIS closet labelled with just the word "Blenders" on the box. He's not sure where it came from or what it was intended for, but the whisper fit the tone of the promo beautifully. The music accent behind it is from the Mirage package.
On mixdown Ron chained together the Compellor, Exciter and Dynafex. The Dynafex was to gate the tape noise at the open and close. Ron says the combination of the Compellor and Exciter gave the mix a "more solid feel." The Compellor input was set to 2 o'clock, the process balance was full right, and the output level was set to -10. The Exciter drive was set to 9 o'clock,the Tune to 11 o'clock, and the mix to 10 o'clock.
Now, pop in The Cassette for a magical trip behind the speakers!
Next month in Producer's VU: Greg Williams from WMC/Memphis starts the morning with a song....