Imaging in 2018 – Starting Out
Starting out in Radio Production or more specifically Radio Imaging is tough. Very tough. There is an element of luck or “falling into the job“ and I know that’s a fact for hundreds of us across the world. Personally, I fell into it during my time with Classic Hits in Dublin, Ireland. I began as a Commercial Producer and Programming Assistant on low money, but this is where I learned my skills in production. This grew to Imaging the station within two years of joining. So I fell into the game really. Did I fail over the years at certain things? Of course I did, if I didn’t I wouldn’t be human and I wouldn’t have improved.
For me, Networking and Work Experience are the key to success when starting out. Get to meet your future peers in Imaging as well as Programme Directors, Music Directors and Voiceover Artists. Growing your contact list is always a plus! I’ve got to meet so many great people over the years, who’ve been there for support, advice and I’ve even landed some gigs over the years as a result.
I think it’s cool to look back over the years and see how you have progressed in terms of sound and creativity and it’s equally important to figure out what worked, what didn’t and what could be improved.
If you haven’t checked this Podcast out yet, then you must. In particular if you are struggling at making things, then Chris Nicoll’s WizzFX Podcast Episode “5 Ways To Instantly Improve At Radio Imaging” will really help!
In this Blog Post, I ask the question “What was the best tip you know now, that’d you wish you knew when starting out?”
Naturally this topic will vary hugely from person to person, so there are so very interesting ideas and thoughts shared by these amazing people across the world.
Kelly “K3” Doherty – Former VP of Imaging at iHeartMedia (Los Angeles, CA) and launching TheImagingHouse Soon!
You need to have a life to have a career. Put life first and you’ll be happier in the studio. And don’t ever answer the phone when the morning show is on the air!
Trial and error! You probably aren’t going to get that branded intro or TOH to sound just like the one you heard on your favorite station on day one. If there’s a particular sound you love which you are unsure of, drop the producer a message, ask a friend, perhaps they’ve managed to achieve it. Perhaps a certain sound you want to achieve on your VO chain, watch youtube tutorials, read blogs, ask around!
The best tip I wish I had been given when I started, and one that I tell everyone now – use an analyser. I use Waves PAZ Analyzer on everything. Processing a VO, drops (ESPECIALLY drops!), and on my master. Trust your ears, for sure, but often you can make things sound far better by checking the balance of your frequencies.
Get an understanding of music theory that you’re comfortable with – it doesn’t need to be a full blown case of music grades; unless you’re planning on writing music then that’s very much overkill.. however having a knowledge on the basics, the pitch differences between keys and structure will be the help you need to make your mark. Also learn EQ inside out – the amount of times I hear some great production ideas yet they’re either burnt in processing, or sitting really flat and bland.
I think most importantly, Imaging will still be relevant, as there will continue to be the need to create unique identities through sound, even across platforms such as streaming/podcasts etc. Maybe we won’t be called Imaging producers — more like Brand Producer which could most likely be a position in a specialist audio production house rather than a radio station. Radio will be relevant but the distribution will obviously change a lot.
Autotune. I had no chance at the beginning to play with it. But after some tutorials 4 years ago I’ve learned it.
Less is more! The number of times I’d been guilty in the early days of “over-producing” stuff were far too many. All part of the learning curve. Looking back it was the art of imitation not relying on my own inner creative gut feelings and the need to impress. Now, it is about getting the message across.And asking the question every single time – what is the “message” that I’m trying to get over here.(rather than wondering how many drops or filter settings can I squeeze into this badly written cheesey piece of copy! Haha) And another imperial tip I learned and would go back and tell the me of 20 years ago is KNOW YOUR WORTH!
I think pulling all nighters and coming in at weekends and burning out to just keep your job and keep the bosses happy is an unhealthy way to operate. I lost too many hours trying to please my employers when in fact most of the time they don’t notice the hours put in. Perhaps I needed to hard graft in order to learn fast but being more focused and more organised and thicker skinned are much more attractive skills to posses rather than burning the candle at both ends.
CAUTION: Be careful with sources
I hate bringing a negative into this article but I feel it should be addressed. While Youtube tutorials can be great for some things, I would stay clear of them when it comes to Radio Imaging and Production. There can be some methods used that would be counted as misinformation (This largely goes back to the Loudness War a few years back) so I would stick to the amazing resources below.
Articles on starting out
In closing, there are some great articles on starting out and tips and tricks to upskill!
DaveFoxx.com – by Dave Foxx
Dave Foxx is the Godfather of Radio Imaging and so many thousands of us give Dave credit for starting out. Very insightful videos on site.
Benztown Branding Blog – by Andreas Sannemann
Probably the first place I ever went to get inspired. Always updated with quality content!
(NEW!) Prodcast – by Dom Evans
Yes! Another amazing resource from the Head of Production at FoxFM in Australia. Really good!
An Interesting Read “Making Radio – Early Radio Production and The Rise of Modern Sound Culture”
A sidenote on the above new Podcast “Prodcast” – Dom had two great guests on recently who you will probably have already heard of. The famous Z100 Creative Services Director, Staxx Williams and Nova Imaging Producer, Brad Leask. Both these guys are incredible at what they do and they discuss some really really interesting things. Check it out here
There you have it! If you would like to add something to this list or discuss a future topic, please get in contact with me!
If you missed it, be sure to check out the last post in the series “Imaging in 2018 – Creativity or Technical Ability”