SCRAPBOOK: NOVEMBER 2001
My computer is running at a snails pace. I’m about to go back to ink. Then our I.T. Department tells me that the fact I have over 200,000 emails on my laptop may have something to do with it. SO---I went back…and started clearing out…and found a whole bunch of oddball emails from the month we launched XM. A simpler time. Below are a few of these---kind of “scrapbook” sorta stuff: All about passion, excellence, promise…and the kind of fun that happens when things are so young…XM has grown into a “real” company, but it’s fun to look back to the early days (the first month) when we didn’t have much to worry about in programming other than getting the sound right…Read on….some nostalgic fun:
“They don't make records like "Pinball Wizard" anymore. Literally. There was this acoustic guitar in one ear. And then, all of a sudden, twenty five seconds into it, an electric BLARED into the other. Today they mix for the center. No special effects. Nothing new. But in the sixties, we were all on this ADVENTURE! And our stereos were part of it. Artists took chances and were proud to be progressive”.
“Listen to the radio stations today. Listen to the hit records on these stations. If artists would take a 60’s pill and begin to experiment again, maybe it would affect radio, and radio would once again invent sounds instead of trying to always be funny or angry within the vanilla and jokingly clichéd formats. But imagine: Great music on great stations? Good luck”.
I didn’t write this but it’s true….the 60’s pill is in your head.
Verbally, we gotta get be coherent
Sonically, we gotta be incoherent
XM BAND REHEARSAL/JAM!!!!
Rehearsal and Jamming for upcoming appearances of the XM Band are happening.
You need to be available two nights a week.
If you are interested, contact Bandleader Junior Marvin by email ASAP (please cc me).
Attached is the first PROGRAMMING HIGHLIGHTS which will be posted on the Website and distributed to our Press people. (file below)
As far as the XM “push” goes---First it was “The Concept”…then it was “The Rockets”…then it was “The Radios”….Now>>>>>IT’S US!
It is absolutely critical that you contribute each week so your format is represented.
Bootcamp Reminder---Be there by 8am or suffer horrible consequences.
NOVEMBER 5TH 2001
90s ON 9:
NICK CARTER- BACKSTREET BOYS W/KANE 5PM EST
BILL ANDERSON VISITS W/BOOTS RANDOLPH AND VINCE GILL. 7PM EST
LITTLE FEAT ACOUSTIC PERFORMANCE AT XM 10A EST (45 MIN)
BBC CONCERT QUEEN- NIGHT AT THE OPERA 6AM EST
DAMIAN MARLEY NEW ALBUM - HALF AY TREE
3PM XM CAFÉ LIVE (60 MIN) JONI MITCHELL AND JAMES TAYLOR IN CONCERT
JOE DIFFIE WILL DELIVER AND DEBUT HIS NEW ALBUM
IMPORTANT NEW RELEASES- MERLE HAGGARD, ROOTS VOL. ONE
BBC CONCERT KINKS 10AM EST
NEW NO DOUBT REGGAE SINGLE FEATURING BONTI KILLA - HEY BABY
"DAYTONA TIME" NASCAR LIVE 7PM EST (1 HR)
BBC CONCERT SERIES- 9PM EST (2 HR) SYMPHONY/MAREK, JANOWSKI, PGM INCL. FRANCK, SCHUMANN & BRUCKNER 4TH SYMPHONY
LONDON EXPERIMENT /DJ JAMIE J MIX 10PM - 12AM EST
THRESHOLD W/MONA GOLABEK 1PM (2 HR)
SHAGGY INTERVIEW 5PM EST
JUGGALO SHOW (INSANE CLOWN POSSE) 3PM EST (2 HR)
BBC CONCERT THE POLICE-1976 10PM EST
EAR COLLEGE W/MARTIN GOLDSMITH (VARIOUS TIMES)
ON THE ROCKS:
COCKTAIL HOUR W/STEVE GAVENAS 7PM EST (1 HR)
BONEY JAMES DAY NEW AND CATALOG BONEY MUSIC ALL DAY
THE STROKES STROKE A WHOLE DAY DEDICATED TO THE 1 MONTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE RELEASE OF THE NEW STROKES CD, WITH NEW CUTS EVERY HOUR FROM "IS THIS IT" INCLUDING THE TRACK THAT GOT PULLED FROM THE CD
70s ON 7:
INTERVIEW WITH AMERICA DURING SARI'S SEVENTEEN
SLAM FRANCISCO/DJ DAVID HARNESS MIX 3PM EST
BBC CONCERT THE PRETENDERS 1PM EST
JON ANDERSON ON ART OF ROCK - MAGNIFICATION ALBUM COVER 9A EST
THRESHOLD W/ MONA GOLABECK 2AM (2 HR)
"DAYTONA TIME" QUALIFYING FOR PENNZOIL 400 (HOMESTEAD MIAMI SPEEDWAY) 3PM EST (2 HR)
SPACE STATION FOUR THREE 3 HOURS OF THE XMU'S FACULTY FAVS. PLAYED BACK FROM THE HUBBLE BY COMPUTER AND MONKEE. PREMIERES AT 1XMZ (8P EST)
ED ZACHARY PRANK SHOW 6PM - 9PM
BEN SMITH'S INTERVIEW W/ JEAN LUC PONTY RE: HIS NEW RELEASE "LIFE ENIGMA" WILL AIR ONCE PER HOUR BETWEEN NOON AND 5PM EST
BBC CONCERT LED ZEPPELIN 9PM EST
"DAYTONA TIME" POPEYE'S 300 (BUSCH RACE) HOMESTEAD MIAMI SPEEDWAY 1PM EST (3 HR)
X CHECKING THE 3 HR WEEKLY COUNTDOWN SHOW AT 1PM
BLUES ACCORDING TO THE GOSPEL 8AM - NOON, EVERY SUNDAY
ZEPLIFY ZEP MUSIC AND READINGS FROM THE BOOK OF ZOSO. 2 SERVICES AT 7AM AND 11AM
BBC CONCERT ARGENT 11AM EST and FACES 6PM EST
"DAYTONA TIME" PENNZOIL 400 (WINSTON CUP RACE) HOMESTEAD MIAMI SPEEDWAY 12PM EST (4 HR)
EAR COLLEGE W/ WAYNE JOBSON (VARIOUS TIMES)
In the XM Studios
Maxi Priest, Reggae Star
Joint Studio, Sm performance
11/6/2001 from Noon to 2PM
Below is a pretty typical e-mail from a listener. What I want to point out is something we’ve discussed going back to our first meeting:
Marketing gets us “customers”…it’s up to us to convert them to “Fans”....
More and more e-mails are signed as the one below is-
“From your #1 FAN”
FAN is a way of thinking. Sure, they’re “customers” or as in terrestrial, they’re “numbers”…but for us, we need to strive for FANS. FANS are loyal. FANS don’t just happen. We need to RELATE TO OUR AUDIENCE AS FANS…TREAT THEM LIKE FANS…It’ll come right back at ya!
The Old Way: “Our 25-44 Females are enjoying the 3p-7p day parts
The XM Way: “Our Fans are diggin’ our Afternoon stuff”
FANS! Bring ‘em on! (See below)
First Name: Gary
Last Name: Watters
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
I thoroughly enjoy my XM Radio. Fine Tuning is the most intelligent station ever. The Deep Tracks are truly Deep. The Jazz Channel are all great. I don’t like Country but I
am liking Hank. My Wife can’t get enough of Heart. Your program creators should be complimented for making the song lists and radio in general fun again. You have a very unique and original sound.
If possible, I would like to see national broadcast television audio added to the stations. This way I can catch the begining of a primtime show I am late getting home for, or listen to Oprah while I'm running errands.
I understand the difficulty in purchasing this content, I do believe it would tie broadcast television media to satellite media which could definitely use a diplomatic boost.
Just a suggestion. I'll keep my XM anyway!!!
Your biggest fan,
A few things:
In Boot camp 1,3 and 7 and included in the XM Playbook is:
"..Whenever you get artist ID's, make certain you get them to cut ID's for Christmas, Labor Day and other Holidays. Come Christmas, you will have dozens of custom ID's, and other stations will freak wondering "Where did they get those"!...it's the XM way of going the extra mile".
I'll bet we didn't AFDI this one too well. These are the "little details" that separate radio from AMAZING RADIO. So---It's your choice:
a) Show me I'm totally wrong and pull them out
b) Suffer through endless pounding of this at future meetings
c) Start plugging in the hundreds we DO have (special thanks to Mike) and remember to AFDI this at all future ID sessions.
.....The right answers are A or C.
Again, it's those little details. The bottom line: Let's flood the appropriate formats with Artist XMas ID's that we have in house...we have a ton in Dalet.
One of the benefits of our focus on Quality, Intensity and Originality is AWARDS! Realistically, the Mercury and Billboard awards are going to be tough because of politics. The people who vote on those, like GM's and Group heads would probably get fired for voting for us! BUT--There are countless other possibilities. I fully expect Maxx's Wynton Marsalis shows to be award winning. This is just a heads up, as we'll be talking about this extensively in 2002. Please be thinking about opportunities as we move this forward. If we do Award Quality radio...let's win 'em.
CHANNEL OF THE WEEK
I will of course post this on XM PLACE Monday, but a little extra bow to DEEP TRACKS. The reasons they get COTW include:
*George Harrison coverage. It wasn't the playing of George....it was the thoughtful dialogue...the interviews..the cool "other versions" of GH songs...the tasteful nature of handling this. Compared to (I kid you not) the big Philly AOR's salute "20 song George Harrison Beatle Break marathon" Deep Tracks honored George in an artful and hype-free way
*Deep Tracks has been extremely responsive to updating and improving the music mix
*Deep Tracks Production is great...always fresh....and truly celebratory of the era they serve.
*Deep Tracks "Interview Format" is revolutionary.
*Few cross promote and "sell" music better than GTM and Beard
*Cool features and nice to hear Alternate song versions!
...now if I can only get GTM to do the "On-A-Satta-Day-Nighta" salute to Iron Butterfly!
...nice job Deep Tracks. Great to have you on the lineup!
New York City launch coming this Thursday! Sting LIVE from NYC on Wednesday! All Holiday Music on Special X. Lots of action on XM!
The Fans are out there! Thanks.
NEW YORK REPORT
Very successful NYC launch!
Thursday, picked up Wynton in an XM Saab. Kid in a candy store! Had the presets locked on Real Jazz, Raw, Classics within 7 seconds.
Press Conference was a smash. TV crews, Rlling Stone, NY Times, they were all there. Jonathan Schwartz was live on air from BB Kings Club.
Investor dinner was a boozy, Blues filled classic.
A wonderful time for XM!
Satellite radio has arrived
by Fred Shuster, staff writer, The Daily News, December 2001
Remember the first stirrings of cable? The general feeling was nobody would pay for television.
Or consider the compact disc, before those costly little silver Frisbees dumped your vinyl dreams in La Brea Tar Pits? Oh, how we laughed in the days before the revolution.
That's how satellite radio might appear today. The fledgling digital service, which delivers vast numbers of channels of often commercial-free music and talk to subscribers throughout the country, offers programming with far more imagination than usual.
Anyone up for a channel devoted solely to NASCAR? Reggae? The Firesign Theatre? Phish? .
Paying your dues
"TV was free for decades and now some of us willingly pay $90 a month for it," says Richard Neer, author of the just-published "FM: The Rise and Fall of Rock Radio" (Villard, $24.95), a history of the format. "And like cable TV, satellite gives you choices you didn't have before. If it supersedes FM the way FM superseded AM, then it will be very important."
For long-distance motorists and committed music fans, extra-terrestrial radio is sent from the heavens. For instance, among XM Satellite Radio's 71 music channels are adventurous alt-country, bluegrass, Christian, classic soul, blues and jazz stations.
"I'm a real radio fanatic," said TV assignment editor and XM subscriber Hans Laetz, 44, who drives two hours a day to and from work. "And the ability to have all these music channels plus 30 news stations including the BBC World Service is overwhelming. For radio and music fans, this is the equivalent of going from 12 channels on over-the-air TV to 400 channels on cable."
Laetz said he particularly enjoys XM's '60s station, which he likens to a genuine full-service Los Angeles Top 40 station of the era, "complete with obnoxious disc jockeys, jingles and a terrific playlist. (Oldies) KRTH-FM plays 400 songs, the '60s station plays something like 2,000 songs -- and that's just one XM station."
Something for everyone
Among XM's unusual offerings is the excellently named "Fred," a classic-alternative outlet that airs U2 and R.E.M. alongside obscure cuts from the likes of the Smiths, Echo & the Bunnymen, and Elvis Costello.
Nearby on the XM dial, fans of '70s troubadours get their own channel. "The Loft" goes in for the Van Morrison, James Taylor and Jackson Browne singer-songwriter axis, but veers towards lesser-known material and even one-hit wonders.
There are two satellite radio companies. XM, with its flashy, surreal TV commercials ("Radio to the power of X") launched in November, charging $9.99 a month. Its lone competitor, Sirius, rolls out Feb. 14 and costs $12.95 per month.
"Satellite is not going to be hugely popular everywhere immediately," says Lee Abrams, XM's chief programmer. "It would be foolish to think it'll happen in a year. But our reach is incredible and what we have to offer is just fantastic. Look, we'll never put FM out of business. But I think we have a very formidable alternative that a lot of people will want."
Both XM and Sirius -- which won't divulge how many subscribers they've got although analysts say the combined tally is under 100,000 -- have worked hard to fast-forward their profile, lining up partners in the auto and electronics industries and utilizing extensive advertising budgets.
For example, the latest Cadillac Seville and DeVille models offer factory-installed XM receivers, expanding to more than 20 GM models in 2002. Sirius, meanwhile, has snagged Mercedes, BMW, Ford, Volvo, Jeep and Jaguar.
But you don't have to buy a car to get a satellite receiver. All the major radio manufacturers offer self-installed units for around $450 to replace current dashboard radios. XM and Sirius, incidentally, are not compatible.
"The technology is worth waiting for," said Joe Capobianco, senior vice president of programming for Sirius. "It's radio with the subscriber in mind. You'll hear things you don't expect and you'll be able to scratch whatever listening itch you may have at any point in time."
Money for nothing
The potential for profit is great. After all, nearly 219 million Americans -- or 96 percent of those 12 and over -- tune into 13,000 stations for news, sports, weather, traffic and music, averaging 20 hours of radio listening a week, according to Arbitron, the marketing research company.
But while radio is big business, it's never been less independent, the result of deregulation which allowed a handful of broadcasting companies to own the majority of stations. Consequently, programming decisions for huge national chains are often made by one office.
"We can go deeper in an artist's catalog than anyone would ever even dream on terrestrial radio," Abrams said. "And we can offer formats that would never sell on regular radio. The only people that would buy ads on a heavy metal-only channel on commercial radio would be tattoo parlors."
Despite satellite's clear potential and commercial radio's dire state, it may be a battle to get us to pay for something we already get free. But the general feeling is your car radio is so dull and predictable that XM and Sirius may just catch on in the same way many viewers now gladly shell out for HBO.
XM, which is based in Washington, D.C., and Sirius, which has its studios in New York, both target Los Angeles as their biggest potential market, saying the sprawling city boasts the most striking need for dramatic dial choice.
"Unlike a lot of other places, L.A. is a car town where people spend multiple hours a week commuting," says Doug Wilsterman, senior vice president of marketing and distribution at Sirius. "And our focus groups tell us people are sick and tired of all the commercials, which can amount to 16 to 22 minutes an hour. That's the biggest complaint."
As with cable TV, which eventually developed its own award-winning programming, satellite has the potential to create its own stars.
"Oh, definitely," Capobianco said. "There will be a day when a satellite Howard Stern or Don Imus emerges. And that will be another reason for people to subscribe to the service. There will be a 'Sopranos' of satellite radio. And when that happens, people will really see what this is all about."
(and if anyone has time to read this—here’s a nostalgic pre launch note…)
Swagger, Creative Freedom and Radio Nirvana are what we aim to enjoy. But it must be earned.....right now we are not totally earning it.
Bootcamp is a learning and sharing experience, but it can also be tough and grueling
Well....we have a situation...and it must be corrected NOW:
We understand that the production assignments over the past few weeks have been a first pass "test". Unfortunately, as a group we have failed the test.
The results of the work we heard so far:
OUTSTANDING/DEAD ON IT: 20% 60's, Watercolors,
CLOSE, BUT NEED WORK: 20% Close wont cut it
OFF TARGET. WRONG 60%
What we heard may be OK at terrestrial, but for XM it is totally unacceptable. We have to be at 100% perfect.
I'm not going to whine, but I must demand that we fix this asap, as time is an enemy, Granted, this was a "test"...but we flunked and need to get back in there and re-work it. I am totally confident of our ability to fix this.
The reason for this "test" was to uncover these things I'm about to mention. They have been uncovered, so now we must fix them.
Fortunately, the reason 80% was sub-standard for XM is pretty clear. PROGRAM DIRECTORS ARE NOT EFFECTIVELY DIRECTING THE PRODUCERS. Sonically, things were usually awesome, but if a production piece isn't perfectly targeted to the format, it's all noise....all clutter.
And again, there WAS some perfect work. But it ALL has to be perfect.
Here's what we must do...NOW:
PROGRAM DIRECTORS: It is absolutely imperative that you sit with your production person and anyone associated with your channel and teach them your format...feed them sound clips....take them out to places your audience hangs...do everything possible to teach them the mission of your format..... DIRECT THEM. Frankly, while a lot of the production we heard was expertly assembled and sonically strong, much of it was WAY OFF BASE in terms of who the pieces targeted. Great sound…but wrong channel. This is unacceptable.
There was a tendency for:
*Too much stuff sounding like XMU....dense...fast...young. Little intensity diversity. Too foreground. Too in your face.
*Oldies station production that sounded 2001, not the era...lack of bites from the era...lack of authenticity...lack of era candy
*Lack of sound bites and sound diversity (little ear candy...few movie drops...lots of sped up voices and god forbid—goofy filtered voices)
*LONG promos. Who cares if were commercial free if we have two minute sweepers.
*Not enough slogans or statements
*Clogged and cluttered so you couldn't understand the verbal message
* Direction & Vibe Out of sync with the target audience.
*No closing statements.....sonics left hanging
*Weak "impersonations" and specialty voice work.
*Some of it sounding, frankly, dumb. Very Beavis & Butthead. OK in spots...but too much Beavis on formats that should be "smart radio"
*Not using All of the tools available. Over-reliance on certain protools that create a sameness
*Weak..or nonexistant WRITING/SCRIPTING. Even a 5 second bit needs to be written. Soundtrack & Script = Amazing
*Not THINKING deep enough. Details often missing.
Every piece didn't suffer from the above of course...often, the above were perfectly executed. BUT-there was enough occurrence of the above to raise a flag.
This is NOT the fault of the producers. In fact, part of "the plan" is to hire a mix of producers who have great minds and digital chops...THEN the PDs translate the format mission to them, feed them sound bites, live with them with the result being fresh, but perfectly focused and targeted production. We can't expect a 22 year old whiz to "feel" the 50's, or 30+ Fred, etc....Ya gotta give them the mental tools!
Not every format suffers this...but EVERYONE can improve on this first pass of production.
PD'S: You need to be IN THE STUDIO WORKING WITH YOUR PRODUCERS...NOW. If you're at your desk over the next few days, there needs to be a good reason. If YOU have a question about the direction...ask. You gotta get in there and teach the Producers every nuance about the format..the target..etc...I am at your disposal 24/7 if YOU have questions.
PICTURE A RECORDING BEING MADE: YOU (PDs) ARE THE ARTISTS...THE PRODUCTION PEOPLE ARE THE ENGINEERS BEHIND THE DESK.
YOU MUST TEACH THEM THE SOUND. THE BEATLES SPENT HOURS AND NIGHTS WITH GEORGE MARTIN THEIR PRODUCER EXPLAINING THE "CONCEPT" BEHIND THE SONGS...THEN GEORGE DID HIS MAGIC. WITH EVERY ARTIST & ENGINEER (PRODUCER) THERE IS A DIALOGUE..A BOND....WE NEED MORE OF IT HERE! NOW!
PICTURE TELLING A CAST OF A MOVIE YOU'RE DIRECTING..."GO FOR IT". NO!!!!! A GREAT DIRECTOR IS DIRECTING EVERY NUANCE OF THE SCRIPT (FORMAT). Every background noise...every line...every color...
Again, the stuff we heard was generally well done sonically, but NOT UP TO THE "REVOLUTIONARY" STANDARDS OF XM. Great for a typical station somewhere...but we must take it beyond!
Bottom line: OUT OF SYNC WITH THE TARGET!!!! PDS--GET ON THE PRODUCERS. TEACH THEM. INSTRUCT THEM. FEED THEM INFORMATION..FEED THEM SOUND BITES...TEACH THEM ABOUT THE PEOPLE THEY'RE PRODUCING FOR. DIRECT THEM!!!! YOU MUST SPEND TIME WITH THEM...A LOT OF TIME.
The producer/PD assignments may change...this is Dan's call. If you have a problem with your producer...see Dan ASAP!
We must get back to the style we had during CES where the PDs lived with the producers. Listen to the CES CD of America, 60s on 6, Fine Tuning, Fred, etc...good stuff...XM standards...AND IN SYNC WITH THE TARGET
Here are the basics of the XM Sound...you all know them...now APPLY IT!
AD'S FOR STATIONS or SOUND MOVIES?
You are in a theater......it's dark.....your eyes are closed....your senses are nailed with this stunning, chilling sound. You can "feel" the sound...you can "see" the sound. That is "Cinematic Sound"......That is the kind of sound that we should be producing. Sound Movies not Ads for Stations. It's a way of thinking...a way of producing.
Another word for it is "pictorial"..creating mind pictures. Anyone can create sound.....the genius is in sound that people can see. The best was Carl Stalling (The Looney Tunes guy). He would create the sound for a cartoon before it's drawn, from story boards. In many ways, that's what YOU are doing. The story board is the format outline. You are literally creating the soundtrack for the channel. That's why this stuff is so damn important. Go beyond titillating the ears...go for the (closed) eyes
Do you know who you're producing for? Your PD should give you a crystal clear vision of who the listener is...or I can. At the last Bootcamp I showed photographs of the ideal target listener. You absolutely must target the production for who's going to hear it. For example:
XM Cafe: Earthy , 30 something.....global tastes (everything from Folk to Jazz).....Internet saavy Starbucks drinking...likes "smart" radio....dislikes gimmicks...wouldn't get caught dead at a meet market club... Production sound----Earthy...rich & clear
Boneyard: 27 year old, beer powered male clock puncher.....forced his way to row two at Milwaukee Summerfest '89....still raises fist and screams "wooooooh" at Concerts.....Crazy Train is his anthem... Production Sound----Fist raising...Out there...riot inciting...Wayne’s World dude.
Fred: A Cocky, "heard it all" 35 guy....insulted by goofy young end production....smarter. Loves SNL...Pulp Fiction was a cultural statement. This guy needs "Smart Radio"
Most radio stations' production is extremely similar. But you can see how while the age targets of the above two formats are similar, they are two completely different types. Therefore, to be authentic, we must tailor production to the exact target. Sounds obvious, but rarely does a station truly do this.
XM Formats all have a Point-of-View..."attitude" is kind of dated. Attitude usually means nastiness. We're beyond that. We need to think Point of View.
Production is a way to define the POV. POV creates fans. POV appalls non-target listeners....is joyous to target listeners.
Remember the quadrants. Is your sound Sick, Smart, Trailer Park or Teen (ask me if you weren't at Bootcamp or don't recall this)
INTELLIGENCE: We must deliver "Smart Radio"...it's all relative. Smart to a partyin' Boner is , well.....you know.
Smart to a Fred-ite is indeed smart.
TAKE PEOPLE PLACES:
Sound can do that. Where does that piece you created take you? The destinations are once again format oriented:
Oldies Type Stations: Take listeners to a place in time. Our 60's CES demo does an exceptional job of taking you back in time to the 60s.
XM Oldies stations are time trips and it's the production that carries a lot of the weight. Newsreels, drops, old commercials (cleared stuff of course…and we have plenty)
Streets & Towns (Soul Street & Bluesville): Take people there. I can hear a "tour of Bluesville" piece where the narrator says "Here's Bluesville Jetport (crickets)...wait a minute, we ain't got no Airport in Bluesville...here's Bluesville Station (sound of roaring locomotives).....you get the idea.
Soul Street takes you to Soul Street....maybe a funkier 60's version of "Do the Right Thing" sound.
Audio Disneyland: That secret place in the mind that turns sound into chills...you've all been there. Aka Whackyland.
Scenes: On America you picture a Cowboy on a horse on the prairie at Sunset...on Fine Tuning, it's a Cathedral in Europe....PRODUCTION creates this.
This isn't airy/fairy stuff...it's the reality of transporting listeners through sound. Easy? Ah no! Do-able..of course. Listen to the production on the CES demos and you'll see.
THE WORLD OF SOUND:
Still tied to earth? escape! There's a world of sound:
Electronic: Phasing, Backwards songs, repeat echo, STEREO panning
Created: Get out your audio brush and paint!
Musical: Bagpipes on XMLM sounded great! Harps, Oboes, Strings, Ukulele, Banjo, psychedelic.....it's all there to use
SFX: Close your eyes. Listen. Office Sounds, Traffic Sounds. Sounds of Life
Media: Old TV, audio archives, TV themes, jingles. Sounds of media. Pams!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Crazy: XMLMs use of a Square Dance caller calling Metal lyrics is priceless and brilliant.
Film: Short film bites!!!
Use sound....all of it.
THE WORLD OF VOICES:
Big radio voices....why? It's dated. Try foreign accents, real people voices, whacked voices, regional accents etc....
The "Big Radio Voice" is by most accounts dead. Big voices are the radio equivalent of Ted Knight on the old Mary Tyler Moore show.
Leave Comedy to the experts. Most attempts at comedy production fail. The way to present comedy is through:
Wackiness: Stuff that’s so out there its funny (XMU, Fred)
Reality bites: Old newscasts, commercials, speeches can be hilarious by todays' standards.
Without good, succinct writing, a piece can be useless. The Cross Country stuff was good...But with the added line "Where Country is Going" it became great. The line "From the Mayan Ruins to the Cathedrals of Europe...XMs fine Tuning...adventurous music for a creatively starved planet" is cool...America's promo targeting the Steel Worker is wonderful. Writing dramatically, clearly and intelligently is of critical importance. Every piece needs an end point...a reason. It can be as simple as station name, or it can paint a sound and word picture.
SHARING: Between us, we have an incredible arsenal of sound. Get in there and share. We will be cataloging it in time, but for now, take advantage of the open office....talk around if you're looking for that "special" sound.
Production should be powerful. But powerful does not mean loud. It means gripping...compelling. Anyone can create loud sound....but there's brilliance in creating power and drama subtly. My point: There's a place for loud AND subtle. Pink Floyd are powerful but subtle.
Production can be:
IN YOUR FACE--powerful via rhythmic...body moving...earth shaking
IN YOUR HEAD--powerful via Technicolor, lush, dreamy, sensual
Lets not forget the POWER OF SILENCE where in your head is as powerful as in your face.
Float LIke a Butterfly..Sting Like a Bee
Short, medium and long. Mix em up....but long should NEVER exceeded a minute or so, unless it is truly special. We are flexible enough to use long pieces, but they need to hold up.
You gotta be able to UNDERSTAND the verbiage, There are cases where there's SO much going on, the name gets blurred.
Where are they? Every format has them...these re-enforce. Not necessary in EVERY piece...but a significant number should be tagged.
Our stuff should be so original; stations in Europe will want to license it from US
WHY ALL OF THIS IS IMPORTANT:
Above all, there's a ton to do (show openings, closes, etc...). No doubt we'll get it done, but it must be done to the quantity, quality and perfection we need. That's why we're flagging this now.
1. We aim to have to have the best music mixes on earth. But a)that’s copyable b)That’s half the on air equation. The rest is what occurs between the songs! Great music mixes + Great Talent + Amazing production is MAGIC...AMAZING RADIO
2. Production is the anchor in creating the "XM Sound" that we want America to embrace as a radio revolution. It's the area that can create the fastest most lasting factor in what makes our sound so fresh.
3. It's powerful. It's the framework of our sound.
IF PRODUCTION SOUND IS OUT OF SYNC WITH THE FORMAT....IT'S NOISE & CLUTTER
.I cannot stress the critical importance of this. Right now, we are not there. I am confident that with PD tutelege...we'll be there...FAST.
AFDI ? ACTION TIME.