Producer's VU - January 1998

"Rolling Stones Party Bus Promo" from T.R. Fox, Q102, Cincinnati, Ohio

producers-vu-logo-2by Craig Rogers

They’re almost too easy--jokes about the Rolling Stones advancing years. They cropped up again this year with the announcement of the “Bridges to Babylon” tour. But still, the old boys can rock, and not just in their chairs. (I said they were easy!) So, having the Stones come to town still generates plenty of excitement. This month Producers’ VU spotlights a promo produced by T.R. Fox of WKRQ, Q102 in Cincinnati that pokes some fun at the geezers and still pumps the party bus the station booked to take listeners to the show. Read here about T.R.’s production techniques, and then hear the finished promo on The Cassette.

TR-Fox-jan98T.R. is working with a DSE-7000. In addition to the other items you’ll read about, T.R. has a Rane MPE 14 MIDI programmable EQ, Fostex D-10 DAT deck, Thompson Vocal Eliminator, EV RE-20 and Shure SM5B mics, Denon 970 and 950 CD cart players, and a Rane HC-6 headphone console.

T.R. pans tracks 6, 7, and 8 of the DSE to center for the voice over from Eric Chase of WFLZ/Tampa. Tracks 3 and 4 are for stereo music. Tracks 1 and 2 are for the “separator” effects. These come primarily from X-Rules 2.0 from Chateau Brazil. As he dubs Eric’s reel to the DSE, he uses his console’s EQ to get a filter effect. The Wheatstone SP6 console has a three channel parametric EQ. T.R. cuts 11 dB on the low end, boosts 11 dB on the mids, and 6 dB on the highs. He can’t say exactly where these cuts and boosts fall since the markings on the board are worn off. He knows where to set the knobs though, so he can set it up quickly. It’s much quicker than trying to duplicate it with the DSE’s internal EQ.

He loads in all of Eric’s read onto track 8. He often finds great outtakes he’ll put to use. In this promo, the laugh after “what Hansen will look like in 70 years” is a genuine reaction from Eric while he was reading the copy.

q102-logoT.R. then edits the v/o. He keeps things tight, editing out breaths and bouncing the voice track between 7 and 8 to overlap some phrases slightly. He likes to have the v/o edited and then cut the music to match. When the v/o is ready, he records in a number of separators on tracks 1 and 2. He’ll pick the ones he wants and place them as he assembles the music bed.

T.R. takes great care to find appropriate music beds. When looking through production libraries he says, “I listen for music that, if it had words, I’d play it on my radio station.” He’ll also sometimes use album tracks from artists that Q102 plays.

The first music cut in this promo is the intro to Start Me Up from Microsoft, er, the Stones. Next comes a cut from X-Rules 1.0. The next bed is from a promo disc for an artist that never made it to the Q102 playlist. Then the humor in the copy is underscored by the fourth music bed. The “lounge” music is from a specialty disc the morning show uses for bits. It fits the tone of the copy perfectly as T.R. spoofs those health insurance spots that are the bane of late night talk programming. Next, you’ll hear a 3-4 second bit of an INXS tune that T.R. sped up 10% using the DSE’s “Time Fit” function. He then looped it to length. Then it’s back to another lounge bed from the morning show’s disc. The last bed is from the Atmospheres library from Killer Trax. When that Killer Trax library arrived, T.R. auditioned all the discs. He felt a couple of them would be better suited for promos than spots, so he salted them away to be used exclusively on promos.

Now with all the pieces recorded in, T.R begins assembling the music bed to match his v/o. Each new thought is underscored by a change in music bed, accented by a separator. You’ll hear that the edits between the music beds and separators are butt cuts. Each bed is cut cold by the separator, then the separator ends cold and the next bed starts immediately. After Eric laughs, you will hear a quick tape effect that sounds like rocking the reels. This was an effect T.R. generated himself by holding a length of tape between his hands then “flossing the heads” of his MX 5050 reel deck. He rolled the DSE in record and tried a number of takes, then chose the best of them. It provides a fake cold ending to the promo so that the call letters stand out at the end.

On mixdown, T.R. uses the aux outputs of the DSE to add reverb to Marc’s voice tracks. The aux outputs of the DSE are two separate outputs that can be used to feed any combination of tracks to an external source. This allows him to send just the tracks with Marc’s voice on them to his ART MultiVerb III. The aux outputs feed directly into the MultiVerb. He uses preset #3 “Multichamber” to add some presence. He mixes in about 20% effect during the mixdown. The return for the MultiVerb comes up on another pot on the board. You’ll best be able to hear this reverb on the cold voice call letters at the end.

He used to run his material through an Aphex Compellor for some additional presence, but after Q102 installed a new digital Optimod, he stopped using it. With the extra clarity of the Optimod, T.R. says, “Things sounded like razor blades.”

T.R. says, “The stuff I produce is really not complicated. The bells and whistles aren’t in here. The complicated mix procedures for the music aren’t done. We focus a lot on content.” He says his production philosophy is, “Get in, get out. Say what you need to say. Make it entertaining. Make it quick and make sure you don’t lose ‘em.” In every sense, that is sound advice. Now check out T.R.’s work on The Cassette.

Next month, Producer’s VU spotlights a piece from Brian Wilson. You’re already familiar with some of Brian’s work. He draws the KRUD Radio cartoon you see in the pages of RAP. In February, we’ll take apart, not a cartoon, but a promo Brian did when he was at KLIF/Dallas.

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