The lost art - Theatre of the Mind - the colour of sound

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The lost art - Theatre of the Mind - the colour of sound

Postby gwp » Mon Aug 10, 2020 1:52 pm

When was the last time you heard a real radio commercial? That is other than someone shouting at you with echo -- sale, sale, sale?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppZ57EeX6vE
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Re: The lost art - Theatre of the Mind - the colour of sound

Postby pave » Mon Aug 10, 2020 7:03 pm

That Stan Freeberg piece was produced around 1963.
Not all that many similar bits have been cooked up since.
This is a lament that falls on deaf ears and addled minds.
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Re: The lost art - Theatre of the Mind - the colour of sound

Postby gwp » Fri Aug 14, 2020 11:47 pm

pave wrote:This is a lament that falls on deaf ears and addled minds.


Sadly, with today's technology it would be so much simpler with electronic editing and layering.

It used to require using all three turntables, and two tape machines to inject the music and sound and simultaneously do the voice over while starting the individual elements at the right moment and then tidy it up with a razor blade edit before you got something that met the time limit and was presentable :towel:
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Re: The lost art - Theatre of the Mind - the colour of sound

Postby pave » Sat Aug 15, 2020 7:01 am

Quite so, gwp.
With the technologies available over the last 20 years or so, spectacular productions can be generated - from home, no less!
It's about perceived need and perceived value.
So far as the grande poo-bahs are concerned, there is no need and minimal value.
Opportunities to impact audiences on behalf of advertisers are lost - again.
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Re: The lost art - Theatre of the Mind - the colour of sound

Postby talker2002@gmail.com » Sat Aug 15, 2020 4:22 pm

GWP nailed it! I spent many hours labouring over a single commercial because I was using a pair of Ampex tape machines, a couple of cart machines, a few turntables and a razor blade with sticky tape. Eventually, the final product was put on a 3 inch reel of tape for the salesman to play for the cllient or it was loaded onto a cart and placed in rotation in the control room. So much easier these days! As Stan Freberg used to say, radio was better than television because television only stretched your imagination up to 21 inches.
And as Bang Gunley, U.S. Marshal Fields used to say, "Yup, sure looks like somebody cut through that fence, alright."
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Re: The lost art - Theatre of the Mind - the colour of sound

Postby paterson » Sun Aug 16, 2020 5:23 pm

Well, I guess I am going to be the old guy who disagrees.

I loved working in production, producing a commercial or promo that required sometimes hours of work, editing, multi tracks, voices etc. But having said that, in my last years in radio and later in the newspaper business, I was amazed at the talent and great young people that I had the opportunity to work with.

We would have college and university students in with coop programs. Some were in production, some news, a few in sales, others in the creative department. All of them without fail were great to work with, helpful and wanted to do a good job.

One young man who was helping us in sales would bop around on three different computers helping sales people and emailing shortcuts or helpful tips for those of us that weren't always too swift on computers. In a power point presentation (remember those?) that seemed to be a huge problem for me, he could fix and clean up in a minute. The kid was amazing, never got phased, never complained and even stayed sometimes for an extra hour or so to help someone out.

So I guess all I am saying is, yes I loved and miss my era and the way it used to be. But let's not be blind to all of the innovations and improvements over the years. And give some credit to the next generation. The kids really are alright! :cheers:
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Re: The lost art - Theatre of the Mind - the colour of sound

Postby pave » Mon Aug 17, 2020 1:37 am

This is not about whether this generation of performers is any more or less talented or motivated than the ones that preceded it.
Rather, it is about them not being hired in the first place and then given the green light to be creative or to acquire new skills and knowledge.
Radio has become, essentially, a business that cranks out sub-standard widgets.
Talent, through time, is more likely to gravitate elsewhere.
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Re: The lost art - Theatre of the Mind - the colour of sound

Postby paterson » Mon Aug 17, 2020 6:14 am

I can agree with you but only somewhat.
First off there is much more radio now than in the 70's. More radio stations, internet radio, more specialized etc.

One of my earlier jobs (1980) was in Owen Sound ON where there was one local AM station and we could receive two others off air in town reasonably clear. Today the same community, which hasn't grown too much has six local radio stations and receives another eight off air from around the area. So 14 local/regional stations vs 3 in 1980.

Our one radio station back then employed about 40 people. And that was a big number back then for a local small market independent station. Do the six stations today employ that number? Yes, but as you know you can run a station (not a repeater) with less than 10 people.

Quality of programming today in all markets, in many ways is superior. Sound quality is better, automation is much better, and specific formats like talk radio much improved and more of it. When I started my radio career there were no such things as all talk radio, or all sports stations, or all oldies/gold formats, all comedy etc.

Now I do agree there has been a watering down somewhat of creativity, and a sameness in programming, especially with corporate ownership. Although to be perfectly honest some of the former independent mom and pop stations in my area (Kitchener/Waterloo ON), that have been bought out by Bell, Corus, Rogers or one of the mid sized companies actually sound better overall. Number one, all of these stations moved to FM. Second thing was they all had updated and much improved studios and facilities. Thirdly, all of them have an actual format now, rather than a mix of this, that, and the other, when they were AM independent operations.

Has something been lost? Absolutely, but a few things have been gained as well. Radio like every other business has changed dramatically from 40 years ago. And some of this change has been for the better.
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Re: The lost art - Theatre of the Mind - the colour of sound

Postby gwp » Thu Aug 20, 2020 8:04 pm

paterson wrote:I can agree with you but only somewhat.
Has something been lost? Absolutely, but a few things have been gained as well. Radio like every other business has changed dramatically from 40 years ago. And some of this change has been for the better.


I rarely engage these discussions, but is there a list of the changes for the better?

Sadly, about the only place radio is being used as it is meant is by the CBC and the audience figures in most major markets across the country demonstrate that as the CBC Radio station is often the most listened to. Corporate commercial radio has become a juke box on a hard drive. With the exception of talk radio there is little redeeming social value or service to the community - no original local news, no creative commercials that play in your mind's theatre. The stations I once was GM for had 50 people, seven exclusive to news with four others part time. I get using technology to reduce staff costs for lesser audience day parts, I was part of it when I replaced the all night person with a broadband satellite feed and made more money midnight to six a.m. at "a dollar a holler." So much of radio's potential is wasted ... but the cash flow must be great if you are not paying any people.
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Re: The lost art - Theatre of the Mind - the colour of sound

Postby cart_machine » Thu Aug 20, 2020 9:07 pm

gwp wrote:Sadly, about the only place radio is being used as it is meant is by the CBC and the audience figures in most major markets across the country demonstrate that as the CBC Radio station is often the most listened to. Corporate commercial radio has become a juke box on a hard drive.


One of the more amusing and interesting things to do is to go back through 1960s trade publications and hear from 1950s radio people how the industry had been ruined by the people who followed.

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Re: The lost art - Theatre of the Mind - the colour of sound

Postby pave » Fri Aug 21, 2020 3:39 am

If a member of a previous generation is going to trash the efforts of a newer generation, at some point along the line, they will be proven correct.
We have reached that threshold.
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Re: The lost art - Theatre of the Mind - the colour of sound

Postby gwp » Fri Aug 21, 2020 12:34 pm

pave wrote:If a member of a previous generation is going to trash the efforts of a newer generation, at some point along the line, they will be proven correct.
We have reached that threshold.


No intention to trash anyone. The transition of radio of the 1940/50 of programs and radio drama to the music based formats into the 1960's and onward is quite different from what has occurred from the 1990's where the basic elements of a mix of news, music, talk, and commercials is really unchanged.

It is the utilization of the resource that has been diminished. There can be little excuse for not giving advertisers the benefit of what radio can really do for their product through produced commercials, rather than shouting simple copy. Creative commercials will also enhance audience interest. While internet sources have changed how people access news, there is no excuse for not covering local news even if it means following up a story that broke on twitter first and making the phone calls and write the copy to report "news as it happens."

There is a privilege that comes with holding a broadcast license and benefit from a finite public resource of a radio frequency. While there are exceptions, the concept of providing community service in return for the use of the airwaves seems to have been lost in favour of the business side of radio broadcasting. The community service element is more and more being filled by low power community stations.
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Re: The lost art - Theatre of the Mind - the colour of sound

Postby pave » Fri Aug 21, 2020 8:24 pm

gwp writes of noble premises and laudable priorities.
Indeed, his comments include righteous and useful ideals.
However, none of them are being executed in real-life, real-time, commercial, music radio.
Radio has become no more than a running programmer's scam as their tawdry attempts to manipulate ratings continue - a distasteful holdover from decades gone by.
We all remember the extraordinarily expensive contests being run only during ratings periods.
The whole business was about influencing ratings - and was done eagerly and shamelessly.
The jocks would exclaim, "Well there go our bonus cheques!"
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