A Loyal Reader Writes:
“On my radio show (on a country music station), I like to talk over familiar music so I can embellish the break with something relative to the topic I’m discussing.
“For instance: talking over a bed with the music for ‘Crazy’ by Patsy Cline while discussing crazy subject matter.
“I just had an aircheck session, and the boss says not to talk over music that is familiar to the audience.
“Here is what he said:
“ ‘Please discontinue using familiar song beds underneath your talk. These beds should be low and unfamiliar so there is no competition in the listener’s mind between what you are saying and the music bed.’
“Although I respect his opinion, my response is: We talk over an intro of a song and that is familiar to the listener, and they still hear what we are saying. How is that any different?
“What is your philosophy on using familiar music beds to talk over?”
First, my compliments to your PD for being one of the few who give regular aircheck critiques to his staff.
Second: He’s correct.
When you “talk up a vocal” — talking over the instrumental intro to a song — you are using a brief segment of music that very quickly will lead to a payoff for the listener. That payoff is the rest of the song.
Ideally, your words help increase the emotional impact of that song.
More often, of course, jocks use the “intro” or “ramp” to squeeze in verbiage required by their PD: station liners, promos, etc.
Those rarely help increase the emotional impact of that song, but there still is a payoff when the instrumental intro ends (again, the song itself).
Sometimes you can hijack the excitement of the music to help increase the impact of your verbal message.
Quick Question: Who’s the better writer – you or Willie Nelson?
You might be a terrific writer; I don’t know.
I do know that Willie Nelson is.
And when someone to whom “Crazy” is a very familiar song hears an instrumental version of it, guess what they do?
They mentally sing Willie Nelson’s lyrics.
Radio Rule #1: Don’t talk over a vocal.
Radio Rule #2: Don’t talk over an instrumental that is more likely than your words to command the listener’s attention.
Radio Rule #3: Even if you can “hit the post” perfectly, no one wants to hear you talk up the vocal to Chicago’s “Color My World.”