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The loudness wars are over, Apple has won!

Excuse me while I gag…

Okay, that’s a little better.  I was just reading up on the newest, greatest, holy cow, gee whiz, gotta have that expensive box processor, also known as the Omnia 11.  I have to hand it to Mr. Frank Foti and his marketing team.  They have created one heck of a buzz about this thing, and it seems like folks are jumping on board to shell out $10 – $12 K for the box.  But let us review a few things.

I will admit most freely that I tend to be an audio purest.  I do believe that a limited amount of processing has its merits, especially for those listeners in high noise environments like automobiles, work sites, etc.   With sloppy DJ’s working the consoles, there is a minor need for some limiting, gain reduction and so on, just to the air product levels aren’t all over the place.  Those are the real world considerations.

Does and Ipod have an air chain processor? No, if the Ipod user want more loudness, they turn up the volume.  Since most Ipod users are normal people and not some burned out DJ with bad hearing, the volume control on an Ipod has plenty of head room to satisfiy.  Does a Droid or a Blackberry or whatever else people are listening to these days have an air chain processor? No.  And most users/listeners of those devices are perfectly happy with the quality and quantity of audio.

Back in the day when loudness meant a bigger transmitter, more carrier power, bigger signal, was easier to tune manually with the non-digital dial readout, etc., perhaps a loudness war with the cross town rival was part of the game.  Nowadays, nobody cares except the program directors.  I repeat, NOBODY CARES.  Ask anybody on the street what the loudest radio station is.  They very likely won’t even understand what you are trying to ask and you likely could not explain it in terms that would make them understand, much less care about.

The average person doesn’t give a rat’s ass about loudness.  Nor do they really care about how deep and full the DJ’s voice is, or how well the noise gate works, or the six band EQ or any of that crap.  In fact, if the music sounded just like it does on the Ipod, e.g. completely unprocessed, they probably wouldn’t even notice.  The competition has changed and radio is being left behind because many people are stuck with old ideas about how things used to be.  Times have changed, what should be the driving force in radio, the listeners, want to hear the music that they like.  That is what the program director should be worried about, finding and playing good music that the listeners want to hear.  Or having the best talk show, the most interesting news, or whatever other programming the station carries.

If the programming content is good, compelling radio, they will listen.  Never mind the air chain processor, the mic processor, the limiter, how loud the station is, what power the transmitter is running at, etc.  That is for the Engineers to take care of.

Stuff that program directors like

If you work at a radio station that still has a local program director instead of one at the corporate programming lair (I know, sooooo old school), then you might be interested in this.  I compiled a list of things that radio station program directors like:

  1. Good ratings.  A good rating book means that they are great program directors and they really know their stuff.  Bad ratings means that engineering dropped the ball (again) when the station went off the air for 30 seconds during afternoon drive.
  2. Taking credit for anything good.  Sort of goes with the good ratings above, but this extends out to all other aspects of a radio station, promotions, sales, news, and even engineering.
  3. New Processing.  Any new gizmo or gadget that changes the sound of the microphone or entire station, for better or worse, is good.  The more flashing lights the better.  The more knobs to adjust the better.  Things that can be plugged into computers and remotely controlled are the ultimate.
  4. More.  More of anything is better, more compression, more expansion, more highs, more mid-range, more lows, more gain, more de-essing, more loudness, more power, more punch, more reverb, more crack, more more more.  If they could just have a little more, the station would be number one.
  5. Any other new piece of equipment.  Watching a program director look at a new studio is like watching a two year old open presents on Christmas morning.  I know, I have a two year old.  Unfortunately, the studios don’t stay new looking for long.
  6. Taping notes up in the studio.  I have one studio where every stationary piece of equipment has a note taped to it.  Mind you, the notes have nothing to do with the equipment they are covering up, they are more like general directions, phone numbers, and other miscellaneous pieces of information.
  7. Free stuff.  Used to be called payola  or plugola, now it is a free lap top, or a trip to Disney paid for by the record rep.  I’ve even seen some mysterious mike processors show up (see number 3).
  8. Rigging up lights to alert operators.  This is a great one, the studio operator does not know if the Marti (or Matrix or ISDN) is active, so they want a light to indicate there is someone there.  Or a light on the phone hotline, or a light for the EAS machine, the back door, the coffee machine, the silence sensor (never mind they are in the studio, they still need a silence sensor light)
  9. Blaming other people when things go wrong.  The program director is infallible.  If something goes wrong, it is somebody else’s fault.  Always. And forever.  Amen.

Some one suggested that I put up the video “More, more, more” by Andrea True Connection to go along #4.  Well, okay, I guess.  It is not a terrible song but the video kinda suxor.  From what I can tell, Andrea True is a former p0r n star that turned signer for just this one hit. Looks like it was filmed on a p0r n set too.

Feel free to add anything else that I may have forgotten.  Of course, this is all in good fun.  I’ll to a “stuff radio engineers like” post as soon as I figure out what that is.

Axiom


A pessimist sees the glass as half empty. An optimist sees the glass as half full. The engineer sees the glass as twice the size it needs to be.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
~1st amendment to the United States Constitution

Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.
~Benjamin Franklin

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. To be your own man is hard business. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.
~Rudyard Kipling

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers
~Universal Declaration Of Human Rights, Article 19

...radio was discovered, and not invented, and that these frequencies and principles were always in existence long before man was aware of them. Therefore, no one owns them. They are there as free as sunlight, which is a higher frequency form of the same energy.
~Alan Weiner

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