The Art Of Voicetracking

courtesy           June 18, 2019


One of the biggest fears among radio talent is voicetracking. Most believe that it decreases the number of, or prevents opportunity for jobs, and that it also prevents companies from developing and growing new talent. Most of the talent that I come across these days are honestly just begging for a little coaching and feedback and sadly they can’t get it anywhere, because no one has the know-how or the time. As much as we hate to admit it, voicetracking is a necessary practice in the radio world and once mastered, can be a profitable business or side hustle for the right person.

As the talent pool continues to grow smaller and smaller in traditional radio, and companies continue to do everything they can to save money, the quality of voicetracked shifts is left mostly to major-market stars who have no idea about the importance of taking the time to be local, or it’s left to small-market talent with little experience, who will execute the shift as quickly as possible for very little money while they tend to the three to four other responsibilities that they have on the job.

I’ve spent a lot of time monitoring small markets for companies with four and five stations in a cluster and found that most of the brands are suffering from a lack of talent and commitment to coaching and content. It’s clearly obvious which stations are voicedtracked simply from the lack of locality, low energy, boring content and sloppy board work. For most programmers, sloppy board work is a huge pet peeve, especially in a world where automation software can be edited to the point of perfection. People are listening to the radio for entertainment and energy.

This challenge presents an “opportunity” for talent to master the craft, and turn voicetracking into a legitimate business. It’s extremely difficult to walk into a situation, especially with a new brand or format and feel the music without actually executing a few live shifts first. It’s very much like programmers who attempt to coach talent, without having never actually been on the air. You must know what’s going on inside the bo,x in real time, before you can translate it to a pre-recorded shift.

If you’re going to attempt to win with voicetracking, there are a few steps needed to ensure that your brand is still differentiating itself from all of the others and providing content that no one else in the market (or online) can. This requires coaching and listening over and over again to your shifts. I always tell talent, “The best thing that you can do to get better, is to aircheck yourself. You will always be your biggest critic.”

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  1. While I appreciate Charese’s sincerity and have no quibble with the points about improving quality being made, I still believe this is an example of whistling in the dark, or worse – spitting into the wind. (Peeing to windward is another poignant option.) 🙂
    Voice tracking is not only a lonely, mundane chore, after a period of time, it makes the talents’ heads explode.
    As a life-long “liver”, I refused to go anywhere near a V/T booth. (Dissension in the ranks, of a kind.)
    To state the obvious: What is missing is the energy, any stream-of-consciousness moments or ad-lib opportunities that, otherwise, be available at all times. Those are what provide the excitement of going “live”.
    Plus, the earphone feed off the transmitter – in real-time – supplies a nifty buzz, as well as a reminder that the talent is, indeed, “LIVE!” (“Local” is just another festering fantasy.}
    There really is little point in attempting to justify the V/T experience, and for all the known and ugly reasons.
    Putting a smiley-face on such a stupid strategy makes but little adjustments to such sour-puss circumstances.

  2. Thank you Ronald, you are correct.

    Since radio is now a corporate asset, they have to say things no matter how ridiculous to keep the hallucination alive.

    Much like Nielsen which has spent months trying to sell itself because everyone knows the “ratings” are probably nothing like fantasized, radio today like corporate culture is filled with fantasy, deception, cowardice and pretend.

    No one sane thinks VT is compelling. No one. Period.

    It would be better and more honest to segue the songs into commercial blocks and stop being stupid.

    But just like hyper leftist corporate CBS pooped on the entire Star Trek franchise to suit a few elites and alienate the larger audience, corporate culture is about the few pretending to be the majority.

    You know? Like an insane asylum population would think.

  3. Sorry, but VT is not a legit business. Done only to save a few bucks for the corporate giants. Tried it once, and the energy was lost. Sad, but most stations VT !!

  4. Agree 100% with Ron and Peter. Voice Tracking is a lie. We are telling our listeners we are live and local when we are not. No matter how much effort you put into your tracks, you will never understand on an intimate level local stuff. Example. Here in the Fraser Valley in British Columbia, when there is a crash at the Bradner rest stop, our guy who VT’s our mid day show from Ontario has no way of knowing where that is, let alone the impact that has on our community. One could argue, well, tell him. But unless he’s actually been lined up on the #1, and late for work again, because of a crash at a location that incessantly experiences issues, how could he possibly connect on any real emotional level? And really, without that ability, what’s the actual point?


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