Postie gets high praise for new Edge imaging

Dave Post is the Breakfast Sound Designer for Jonesy & Amanda at WSFM in Sydney. He is one of the most talented radio audio people I have ever worked with and you are about to hear why.

As part of his role at ARN Sydney, he is responsible for the imaging on the Urban/CHR Western suburbs station THE EDGE. For the past 6 weeks he has been producing a complete re-launch imaging package that even has Dave Foxx from Z100 in New York singing his praises.

I asked ‘Postie’ about his production process. Beware, some of the following might get to the inner audio geek in you!

Daryl: What was your ‘brief’ prior to beginning the production process?

Postie: Charlie Fox (CD) and Mike Etheridge (MD) approached me with the updated "Hits That Move You" positioner. They asked what I thought we could do, and I said I had some ideas.

Not actually having any ideas I went away to give it some thought. Not long after, I heard some imaging from Radio 4 out of London. It was a really smooth, rhythmic sound and I thought it was a great place to start.

95% of my time is actually taken up producing for WSFM… so quite often all I can do is just throw grabs and sounds together for the Edge and that has to do. I wanted to give this package a decent amount of time and love. The idea was to make everything as rhythmic as possible, with varying tempos to suit the different types of music. The Edge plays dance, R&B, urban and rap and the tempo can go from 60BPM to 145BPM in the space of 2 songs.

I spent a week or so getting music beds together. I found some Skrillex tracks that I thought would work well and made a couple of short demos for Charlie and Mike E. They liked it and gave me the go ahead, with the directive "There's no set date for this stuff, let's just get it right before we put it on air".

The stuff I came up with is a bit of a cross between Radio 4 and KIIS in L.A.

Daryl: What voice artists did you enlist? Explain the studio direction you gave them.

Postie: Dave Foxx (left) at Z100 in New York is our station voice. He's not just a radio imaging legend, but also one of the best American promo voices on the planet.

We told him we were keen to also try a female voice, and asked if he knew anyone. He asked Bethany Watson, who is on the Elvis Duran breakfast show on Z100, to lay down a bunch of liners, and sent them to us. They sound great together. There's no direction with Dave, he sends through 2 or 3 takes of everything and it's perfect every time. I'm not a fan of getting 10 or 20 different takes from voice-overs and then trying to cut a single promo or sweeper from all the different takes. It wastes time and makes things unnecessarily complicated. Pro voice overs know what they're doing. If it's not right after 2 or 3 takes you're either directing them wrong, or they're the wrong voice for the job.

Daryl: Talk us through two separate pieces of audio that you are VERY happy with and explain the creative process you had behind constructing them and mixing.

Postie: This was one of the first ones I made. It has a nice flow and it's a nice contrast to some of the more pounding pieces I mixed. The "con-tin-ue" is actually a vocal from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, which the Edge would never play. Some Edge listeners might recognise Anthony Kiedis' voice, if they do they can be in on the little joke. The "tell me what I want to hear" vocal is a sweet way to finish it as well.
or hear it here

Postie: This one was the last thing I made before everything went to air. I was feeling a bit over it by this stage and it wasn't really working. It was really cluttered and sounding pretty naff to be honest. I was about to give up on the whole thing and delete it, then I recalled an idea I'd had ages ago and never used.

I always wanted to get a bunch of people on YouTube singing the same acapella song and mix them together for a promo. As it turns out one of the songs I was using in the music demo was the Karmin song "Acapella". There are literally hundreds of people singing the song on YouTube. Some are really excellent, and some are pretty average… the average ones are the ones I used so it sounded really different to the actual song, which is also cut in in a couple of places. It all fell into place for the start of the promo, and I changed the last song to Guy Sebastian's "Battle Scars", which gave it a really nice lift into the ending of the promo. In the technical sense it's not as clever as other stuff I made, but it's one of my favourites from the new package.
or hear it here

Daryl: Can you talk through some of your favourite Pro Tools software plugins used?

Postie: With The Edge I like to use some of the more analogue-sounding processors. Most of the music on the station is either really new or recurrent and it's all produced with that lovely crisp, fat digital sound. The comparative warmth of the analogue style plug-ins makes for a nice contrast, and the voices sit a little more easily in the mix. You can push the music and fx pretty hard and the voice still pops through. The only modulation on the voices is a bit of phasing.

The plug ins I used on the master track for this package are Renaissance Compressor > V Compressor > L1 Ultramaximizer. I started out using the Renaissance Compressor and thought I'd try the V Compressor, just to hear how it would sound. I forgot to bypass the Renaissance, so the mix was running through 2 compressors then a limiter. I liked the way they sounded together so left it that way. I don't generally compress or limit too much on the master track and stick to pretty low thresholds. I try and get everything levelled out by spending time mixing the audio properly, that way you get all the dynamic highs and lows.

Daryl: In what ways did you push yourself in the production/creative process?

Postie: In the midst of trying to get everything as rhythmic as possible, I tried to make everything as interesting as possible by finding vocal grabs that worked together. If I had a half bar of music to fill I would look hard for grabs that made sense when they were put together. There's a lot going on in most of the imaging and I'm sure a lot of it will even go unnoticed.

Everything was made from scratch, from the music beds up. There's always a tendency to "borrow" audio bits from others or go the easy route and just use pre-produced donuts from an imaging library. This stuff is all original, and it's taken the best part of a month to get it all ready. I was really brutal in deciding what worked and what didn't. There were quite a few imaging pieces that I worked on for 2 or more hours and then scrapped because it was just getting too confusing and hard to get right. I thought "Geez if I'm sick of this before it's even finished, the listeners are going to hate it". Sometimes you just have to let go and start again.

Daryl: Explain the association with Dave Foxx and Z100 please.

Postie: Clear Channel is one of ARN's parents, the other being APN. Dave Foxx is Director of Creative Services for Clear Channel Communications U.S. He is based at Z100 New York. My boss, Charlie Fox, knows Dave and organised the first sessions for the Edge. It's been a wonderful relationship!

Daryl: I asked Dave Foxx what he thought when he first heard the new EDGE gear.

“When I played it back, I was electrified.

Dave's work had me enthralled from the beginning. His rhythm and flow are impeccable. The continuity of thought and "to-the-point" constructions are as fine as I've ever heard. The layers upon layers of effects, voices and music, all dovetail beautifully into a single, cohesive message. This is production at the pinnacle.

I don't usually hand out grades to producers because I don't want to have the image of a wise old professor at University, passing out grades like candy. Plus, many producers would be getting a failing grade and I simply don't want to discourage anyone. With Dave, it's different. If I were handing out grades, he would get an A++.”

Dave Foxx

Daryl: Congratulations Postie on some superb and innovative radio sound design. You are a class operator and we thank you for sharing your work and your knowledge with the fraternity.

Now have a listen to a montage of the revamped EDGE. ‘Music that Moves You’.
or hear it here

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