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Re: voice-tracking is the symptom, but it's not the disease

This is one area where I agree with a lot--though not all--of what you say,
Mike. Beginning in 1972, John Garabedian's little WGTR 1060 in Natick was
voice-tracked in most dayparts--often including AM drive. Yes there were
occasional screwups, but the sound and feel were live, and the little
suburban daytimer with an air staff of only four or five, was able to sound
competitive with the Boston powerhouses of the day. I was in awe, and still
am--although now, what must have taken tremendous effort to achieve in the
'70s, could be achieved without much attention to the technical details. A
station can buy a hard-drive-automation system virtually off the shelf and
have somebody who has never before seen or listened to the station set if up
and get it on the air in a couple of days.

I maintain, however, that to use voice-tracking today to achieve a sound
equivalent to what WGTR achieved in the '70s, a station would have to do a
lot of the things that Garbedian did back then. That is, his staff was
_local_. They lived in MetroWest. My understanding is that, because of the
time freed up by voice-tracking, the air staff was able to spend most of the
day on the street, selling. That's good radio--good _local_ radio. It may be
economically unfeasable to operate that way now, but I'm far from certain of
that. And I don't believe that a jock in Tampa can produce the equivalent
_local_ content for a station in Boston. The decision to use the Tampa jock
to do four-hour-a-day shifts in Tampa, Boston, DC, Cincinnati, Cleveland,
Detroit, and Buffalo _is_ a mangement decision. True, it couldn't be done if
the automation equipment didn't exist, but it's a management decision to use
the automation equipment in that manner. I claim that, in most cases, it's a
lousy decision and that stations that operate that way might just as well be
taking their programming off the bird. The cost is even lower and the
content is just about as "local.".


Dan Strassberg, dan.strassberg@worldnet.att.net
Phone: 1-617-558-4205, eFax: 1-707-215-6367

-----Original Message-----
From: Mike Thomas <nostatic@earthlink.net>
To: dan.strassberg@att.net <dan.strassberg@att.net>
Cc: boston-radio-interest@bostonradio.org
Date: Wednesday, December 27, 2000 1:56 AM
Subject: Re: voice-tracking is the symptom, but it's not the disease-- re

>Really?  Then why was digital automation developed in the first place?  It
was to
>replace live jocks, pure and simple.  It's not due to mismanagement.
>systems have been out there for years, but it's only been recently that
>been advanced to the point that they can be utilized for long periods of
>while still sounding live.  If station owners had this technology twenty or
>years ago, it would have been utilized back then and live jocks staffing a
>24/7 would have vanished long before now.
>As someone who once programmed, I know what it's like to try to find jocks
>cover overnight, weekend and boardtech shifts.  It was difficult way back
>Nowadays it's darn near impossible.  Automation allows stations to employ a
>smaller, more stable, higher quality airstaff and put out a better product
>all airshifts.  Just because it's "live" doesn't mean it's "better."  Would
>rather have live jocks on every airshift?  Sure.  Is it economically
feasible and
>would it allow for consistant, higher quality programming over every
>There are some stations that do automate virtually every airshift.  Only
time will
>tell if these stations will be successful.  With a bare-boned staff, one
can make
>the arguement that as long as the station can post some halfway decent
numbers in
>a few key demos, it will make money, which has always been the name of the
>What difference is there between voicetracked automation and talk stations
>employ syndicated hosts like Rush, "Dr." Laura, Imus and Stern?  At least
>voicetracking can be  localized, while a syndie show cannot.
>Voicetracking is a tool that broadcasters of all kinds have wanted for a
>time.  Just as live, in-studio performances gave way to DJ's spinning
>music in the 50's, voicetracking is replacing live jocks.  It's a change in
>industry and it won't go away.
>Mike Thomas