Sunday, July 02, 2017

Following up on today's post

Hi, it's me again.

This is an update to today's post (which you should read if you haven't already).  

There is obviously a sizeable portion of the listening audience that does not like disc jockeys talking over the intro of records.  I get that.  And it was especially true at the time. 

I'm with 'em if the disc jockey has nothing to say.   To just prattle and say the time six times for twenty seconds so he can hit the vocal of "Layla" -- who needs to listen to that crap? 

But if you are entertaining, and you do have something to say, I think it enhances the experience.  And gives the listener another reason to listen besides the songs. 

And unlike in radio's heyday, if you want to just hear the music there are now a myriad of options.  Spotify, Pandora, your own playlists, internet radio stations, iPds, music channels on your cable system, your own collection, most terrestrial stations (since the companies won't spring for on-air talent).   So you have unlimited choices.  Feel free to take advantage of any of them. 

But if you're a radio station and you're competing with all those options, might a good approach be to give the audience something they can't get anywhere else?    Otherwise, why should they listen to your juke box when it sounds like every other juke box? 

Again, the trick is to find the talent that can pull it off.   And that sadly, is what radio has sacrificed in its greedy quest to make as much money as they could with the least possible regard for the listener.   

All that's left is sitting in the car with me. 

25 comments :

ScarletNumber said...

Myriad is an adjective, not a noun.

Therefore, you don't need to say "a myriad of"

Patrick said...

I could simultaneously appreciate that it took some sort of skill to talk right up to the instant the singing started, while also not liking that the DJ would do that. I always figured the song started when the music started, 1 second into the song in other words, and not when the singing started. The music in the opening of the song isn't just filler.

KoHoSo said...

Again, the trick is to find the talent that can pull it off.

Channeling what you said in the original post, perhaps that should be, "The trick is to find the radio station owner that will pay for the talent that can pull it off." Otherwise, with even the small cluster owners going as cheap as possible on talent...and, with no motivation for talent to get better as they see no future in music radio...who's to say if a Boss Radio style of presentation would work today since nobody's going to try it due to the cost?

jlhpisces said...

I listen to Xfinity in the car and their "radio personalities" on the classic rock stations are full of info about the song, artist and/or other interesting soundbytes. It's worth the subscription. I'll agree that it's not the DJs of the past, but it's not totally dead.

Mike said...

The only thing worse than Top 40 radio is Top 40 radio with a DJ prattling between the records. I like my DJs preferably to be name musicians or at least knowledgeable about the music they're playing. BBC Radio 2 currently has Paul Jones, Jools Holland, Jamie Cullum, Clare Teal. BBC 6music had Bruce Dickinson and now has Iggy Pop, who plays a fine choice of music. My favourite was Richard Hawley, who had an excellent series on rockabilly, playing records so rare he had to bring in his own 78s because they weren't in the BBC archive.
LA bands touring the UK are surprised to hear their singles on the radio, when they can't at home. Which is maybe why the UK can break acts like - anniversary time - Hendrix. Or Beefheart.

Andy Rose said...

Voice tracking actually makes it much easier to hit a post. You can re-record your lead-in as many times as you need to get it right. I know of a few stations with anal PDs back in the 70s that had a full staff of "live" DJs, but the jocks were required to track their patter shortly before air just to make sure they didn't mistime or trip over their own words.
With current software, if you run over, you can just shift the start time of your track to make it end at the point you wanted when it airs. Some jocks do that. But most don't because their managers don't care. Their managers don't care because they know the audience doesn't care.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

That's great, Ken, but you know, I'm a former musician. From my point of view, the instrumental introduction to a song isn't meant as background filler so the DJ can strut his stuff. Those notes mean something to me, and I'd like my audience to hear them.

Fortunately, I was never successful enough to be on the kind of radio where DJs talk over your work. Folk music shows tend not to do that.

wg
(for the curious: MP3s on my website at www.pelicancrossing.net/mp3s.htm)

Ken Levine said...

Wendy,

You make an excellent point, but I could also argue that personalities bring people to the station and getting airplay is huge exposure. And that results in sales. So yes, it's a trade off, but believe me, no record promoter has ever gone to a station and said no one can ever talk over the intro.

Plus, people have been known to BUY the records so they don't have to hear the disc jockeys talking over them.

So like I said, it's a trade off for the artist, but one that is potentially quite beneficial for him.

Curt Alliaume said...

I only spent a few months doing overnights and fill-in work on a contemporary jazz station (quit because my wife was afraid I'd fall asleep behind the wheel and wrap the car around a tree), but we were instructed not to talk over the records. But we were to give the frequency and calls ("103.9 The Wind, The Triangle's smooooooth jazz" - it's not around anymore) leading into the records. It was a small station, just starting out, so people needed to remember it.

Dan Ingram could do bits leading into music. Me, not so much.

404 said...

My real problem is DJs (or whoever, these days) who cut off the ends of songs. There seems to be an agreement that, once the singing is over, the song is over, too. However, there's often more music to listen to, and the fact that this music gets cut out so the radio station can jump to the next song quicker, and as a result squeeze in an extra commercial spot or two really annoys me. Grr.

Oh, and Scarletnumber: myriad is a noun. Not an adjective.

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/myriad

Gary Mack said...

Standing out by Walmart with my cardboard sign "WILL HIT THE POST FOR FOOD" hasn't been working at all.

J Lee said...

There was a time right at the start of the 1970s where it seemed some DJs had gotten so in love with the sound of their own voices, they started interjecting their wit not just during the intro or outro, but in the middle of the song. Which on a Top 40 station they might have felt justified doing because they were playing the song for the 150th time. But if you wanted to hear it and hadn't heard it over and over again, a show-off stunt like that was an invitation to switch over to FM, as more and more people were doing.

As for talking over the opening instrumental, it also depended on how long the jock talked. Just because a song might have a 30 second opening before vocals didn't mean the DJ should talk for 30 seconds every single time, as is someone had to be saying something until the lead singer's voice showed up. Especially if the DJ was just filling time/killing time (on the other side of the ledger, Rewound Radio's doing a Dan Ingram four-day weekend special through Tuesday -- he could get away with talking over the songs better than anyone else).

Al Leos said...

"Plus, people have been known to BUY the records so they don't have to hear the disc jockeys talking over them. "
I've heard claims the reason (at least in the Walkman era) was that DJ's were encouraged to talk over intros to discourage home taping. Does that jibe with what you did as a DJ in the 70s?

YEKIMI said...

All I know is that if I'm in my car and hear a song I like, I still do the patter and see if I can still hit the post. Every once in a while, I'll get somebody that'll look over at me and grin[usually older]....they know what I'm up to. Other times I get people that look at me like I have a giraffe wang growing out of my forehead. Don't care, I'm entertaining myself now!

Mike Barer said...

I've listened to old tapes of KJR in Seattle when you couldn't wait for the song to end so you could hear what the DJ has to say.

Roger Owen Green said...

Well, I STILL hated the talking over the intro., so I always liked songs that started without an intro - Hey Jude (Beatles), Candles in the Rain (Melanie), Since You've Been Gone (Aretha), e.g., just to thwart you DJ guys.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Ken: I certainly agree that DJ personalities were a big reason people were loyal to one station or another. My father had a guy he liked listening to on his morning commute. Larry something on I think WBAI - my father called him "the egomaniac". And there is also definitely the kind of lengthy musical jam that could stand to be cut a lot shorter.

Somewhere, there's a balance...

wg

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

Gary Mack!!!

"...Mack, Mack, Mack!!" (from the 93/KHJ format demo record, as I recall...)

You are a terrific jock!



blinky said...

What I miss is the curated music selection from a DJ. I like the idea of listening to a set of music that is not just the top ten songs on the Billboard 100. What would I play if I had access to all the worlds recorded music? I can tell you it would not be Justin Beiber and Rhianna.

Anonymous said...

@ BBAloha - I think the Mack, Mack, Mack refrain was from the "Now you know what we got" jingle written by Roger Christian to the tune of "Little Duce Coup" that introduced all the Boss Jocks.

JED said...

What about Classical Gas, The Theme from Hawaii Five-O, Walk, Don't Run, Telstar, Feels So Good (the Chuck Mangione version), Green Onions, Music to Watch Girls By, Sleep Walk, A Taste of Honey, Frankenstein, TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia) and half of Santana's first album. I guess you could just talk right though those. But Wipeout would have caught you with it's opening words.

Mark me down in the column of, "Don't talk over the music." Yes, I like information about the artists and the songs. I like good DJs who are witty, knowledgeable and brighten the day. There is space between the songs for that. I'll bet you didn't talk over the commercials!

I know I'm showing my age with the selection of music. Just add an asterisk to my vote with a "He's just cranky old fart" footnote.

Andy Rose said...

@JED: A lot of instrumentals have their own distinct intros before the main melody line starts. Hawaii Five-O and Tequila certainly fall into this category, Green Onions a little less so. Interesting fact about Classical Gas: It's precisely 3:00 long. An oldies satellite network I used to work with had a three-minute commercial break at the end of the hour. For stations that didn't have commercials, the network would fill the time with a song and just enough patter to fill out the 3:00 slot. You could always tell when a DJ was feeling particularly lazy because they'd just play Classical Gas instead of backtiming a shorter song.

I once worked at a public radio station that played Smooth Jazz, which is about 90% instrumental. I would always play each song to its conclusion, and it used to drive me crazy when other jocks would just fade a song out whenever it was news time, or if they just got bored of it. But another worker pointed out to me that most of the songs we were playing were repetitive and already ended in long fade-outs. His attitude was that if the artist didn't bother to make an ending for his own work, DJs didn't need to, either.

JED said...

Here's another thing I really enjoy - getting a civilized response in the comments section of a blog and learning something, too. Thank you @Andy Rose and to Ken for your moderated comments section.

Scott said...

I miss DJ's who could talk up to the vocal. It was so much smoother. Occasionally I'd wonder how he was going to get out in time, but he always did. It's just so awkward to hear the announcer talking over silence, introduces the next song, then a moment of complete silence, then the music starts; like listening to a bad college station. Then again, I had great jocks to listen to like Humble but Nonetheless Mighty John Marshall. http://www.downtownwithrichkimball.com/2016/05/25/the-humble-but-nonetheless-mighty-john-marshall-5-25-16/

Mark said...

In the mid-late 70s I spent hours recording stuff off (literally, with a mike lying on top of the speaker) FM radio, where the jocks weren't 'personalities', so it wasn't even good stuff, just filler that still screwed up my nice clean recording.