Radio station imaging – it can either unite the entire 24 hours or be the catalyst that drives listeners to the competition. Programmers go crazy with imaging scripts; entire books are slammed into a single thought. How can you sell the radio station using poorly written copy? What is an Image Director supposed to do? Do what the job says, “Image.” Ultimately, it’s your job to make a cake out of dirt and water. This is where good production music comes into play.
As an Image Director, I’m expected to guide listeners through the day. There aren’t any live bodies to develop emotion. One way to guide listeners is through well produced sweepers. I believe that to create great sweepers you need to begin with an open imagination. There’s nothing worse than stale, outdated imaging styles to make you feel four hundred years old. Using the typical pulsating rhythms that have plagued the coolness of radio for two decades is as old as using sound bites from TV shows. Everything produced should be a showcase of thought. It’s time to abandon the over the top movie trailer that brags about how much greater your station is… Blah blah blah. Listeners are more savvy than you think and will use this kind of poor sensationalized production as an excuse to tune out.
Program Director Mike Edwards once said to me, “Who are you producing for? Because what I hear is ego.” Swooshes and splashes are noise to the outsider. Music carries the vibration. Treat your sweepers and promos like a Motown song. In fact, if you ever catch one of my lectures, I speak highly of Berry Gordy‘s leadership. Hooks baby! What’s the hook? How do we get there?
For me it begins at firstcom.com. This site has become the biggest tool in my creative box. I use keywords to match the atmosphere, instead of just slapping down a bed and running off to have it played. The goal is to work with every level of the music that’s being offered. Quit trying to win the race! Listeners know when you’re spoofing them. Fake production is no different than the disclaimer at the end of a car commercial.
Imaging can be your best friend. The journey starts with someone who knows who the listeners are and lives their life and style, as well. If you can’t afford it, then find someone that can tap into your imagination. Just remember … music first. Your listeners will never know they’ve been interrupted.