Tommy Kramer Tip #249 – Board Work: The Lost Art

Being a truly great talent also means being (or at least, having) a truly great board op. Many (maybe I should say “most”) people on the air today don’t even realize it.

It’s somewhat of a lost art now, but my generation of air talents were groomed to run the board PERFECTLY. We prided ourselves on precise segues, excellent and consistent levels, and hitting the next song or sound bite within a Content break at exactly the right time, after a brief, concisely focused intro. At stations where I worked, it was mandatory. If you couldn’t run a tight, flawless board, you couldn’t work there.

The proliferation of voice trackers today hasn’t helped. Whether they can hear the music themselves, or someone at the station is inserting the voice tracks, there’s very little (if any) thought given to quality control. You hear a song end (or the jock start talking too soon), then, somewhere after that, another song begins as they lurch forward. No momentum. None. Stop, start, stop, start – the OPPOSITE of seamless forward flow. Total lack of any sense of timing.

The good news is that this current state of affairs gives you a huge opportunity to take a somewhat subconscious but extremely tangible advantage over your competitors. There’s a reason to use it. Great movie directors (James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, etc.) know that the editing and sound engineering is an enormous part of their success. So I have to wonder why radio has largely forgotten about this area. Sadly, the reason is usually that no one is even thinking about it.

Yes, the computer runs the show a lot of the time now, but you can program in perfect cue tones, etc. It doesn’t take long.

Most radio today is so sloppy, my generation laughs at it. Your generation of listeners doesn’t laugh. They simply hit another button, or turn it off entirely and check their Facebook pages or watch something on Netflix. That’s why ratings are largely in the dumpster now for so many stations. No standard of excellence. So it just comes down to who has the best Content. That’ll always be a huge factor, but at-work listening, in particular, can be increased dramatically with better flow. If you don’t get what I’m talking about, well, that’s kind of sad. But you can actually DO something about it – if you want to learn.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2018 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.