The Advantage of Linear Production Techniques For Radio
“How” station imaging is produced needs to match “why” a listener is listening to your station in the first place. It doesn’t matter how exciting the promotion… or compelling the copy, if the listener is there for the music and a station imaging piece interferes, it will be perceived as a commercial interruption. That translates to audience tune-out. It doesn’t matter how short it is, if it is produced or used in a manner that stops the flow, it will hurt, not help the station.
Do your station’s on-air sweepers stop the programming to deliver the message? Do they contain jarring production techniques that take the listener’s attention away from the very programming listeners tune in for?
Don’t get the wrong impression. Exciting production can image your station without stopping the flow. The imaging just has to be produced in a style that creates an on-air transition while, at the same time, getting the message across. The term for this is “linear production.” Linear production is the opposite of the “non-linear” style you hear in the majority of short imaging sweepers on many radio stations.
Non-linear imaging pieces start off overwhelming listeners with sound – and then literally take over the station for the duration of the piece. Once it has the listeners’ attention it continues with over-the-top production techniques and sounds. The programming flow only returns after the piece is completely finished. The message itself conflicts with the message the station is actually trying to promote.
Linear production let’s you continue pleasing your listener with your programming while still delivering a message. Because you’re not interrupting programming – your message can be even longer without being perceived as an interruption. It’s a win/win.
Because of the nature of digital workstations and heavier workloads, non-linear production is a more obvious default production style. The good news is that great imaging that creates forward motion and flow, instead of irritating your listeners, doesn’t take any more time or effort to produce. Use more atonal material. These are sounds that don’t have a musical key that will interfere or clash with a song (Think white noise, static bursts, etc). Sounds that rise or fall in pitch also work to create transitions. The brain seems to follow the pitch change until it reaches the key of the following song.
Of course, these are just guidelines on producing in a PPM world. We production types always hate rules and love to break them. If breaking the rules makes for a better and more effective piece of imaging – do it. Just know why you’re doing it. Believe me; if you know my work, you know I live for highly produced imaging. I’m not calling for boring under-produced imaging in any way. Imaging produced in this linear style can be extremely exciting and enhances instead of hinders the reality of PPM measurements.