by Tracy Johnson
Radio brands rely on imaging and branding to set a tone for their stations. But what about individual shows? Shouldn’t they use production to support and carve an identity as well? Glad you asked. The answer is yes. Show imaging is an important consideration.
The Nash-FM morning show with Ty, Kelly & Chuck uses Benztown to create a sound for their show. I caught up with show host Ty Bentli to find out more.
Ty’s radio shows have led to success in the top markets in the industry. He has hosted #1 afternoon drive-time shows in Chicago and Los Angeles, and led morning drive in New York City. His voice has reached country and mainstream audiences from coast to coast.
TJ: How important is production and imaging in your show?
Ty: Our show imaging is always used with intent. It’s not just an “imaging goes here” mentality. We create imaging that helps drive energy into certain features. We create imaging that helps drive emotion into other features. And we use imaging as a counter-point to the humor in certain breaks.
For instance, when we want to cross a line with our personalities on the show, we might set up a feature by creating a very conservative piece of music and voiceover. As Kelly gives an off-the-wall weather report, we set a humor-bar with imaging that is straight-forward and professional (then go bananas). If we read tweets about politics, we do it with a ridiculous and cheesy piece.
TJ: What is the importance of having imaging for a radio show separate from station imaging?
Ty: Very early in my career, I recognized that imaging is a secret, bonus personality. It is as important as the personalities of the on-air hosts.
Cohesive imaging (something that matches the tone of a show) helps build expectation from the audience. It’s like noticing how a new love interest decorates or cleans their home. If the imaging matches a listener’s expectation, they feel more confident in aligning with your brand. Effective imaging will help identify you, your brand, and your humor.
TJ: Okay, so how do you create a unique sonic brand for the show but keep it compatible with the station’s brand image?
Ty: Ideally, the morning show already matches the station well enough that the tone will naturally complement the station image. Think of imaging as the fourth voice of Ty, Kelly, and Chuck. It’s a resourceful tool for allowing us to quickly establish an expectation in the listener’s mind.
Dynamic imaging helps a listener know the tone of a break. Imaging should not be conversational. Even listeners understand it’s there for a purpose. We’re able to work forward quickly from imaging. Rather than using our own words, we use an imaging piece. Production can do it in seconds through verbal brevity and musical tone.
TJ: Talk about choosing the right voices to fit the vibe of the show.
Ty: This is crucial! As the vibe of NASH’s morning show has transitioned to become more cutting-edge and energetic (millennial), the imaging has helped in multiple ways.
Initially, the imaging was slower than our content and delivery. That helped maintain a sense of comfort for the audience, as they sampled and considered a relationship with the new show. The familiarity of the imaging helped them remember that this was still their show.
As our show established a baseline with the new and retained audience, we began to shift the imaging in the direction of the new energy on-air. We have found voices with an edgier undertone, but coach them to deliver the voiceover copy with warmth.
This creates an image that is true to the heart of our hosts. We are genuinely happy people, and want to see others happy, healthy, and hugged.
The imaging stays true to our young, happy tone, but we might be able to trip across a line now and then. That may happen in the name of honesty about certain topics or if a caller surprises us with a little TMI. No matter what happens, our imaging maintains the true baseline of who we are and the tone that our show represents.
Imaging can be an amazing bridge between the station as a whole, and the personalities who are relating the highs and lows of the lifestyle each day.
Here’s a sample of the imaging on the show, produced by Benztown:
Don’t you love the attention to detail in how this show manages their imaging? As Ty points out, we should pay careful attention to the tone produced elements contribute. Shows that just set it and forget it miss an opportunity to subtly shape the sound of their show.
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