Interesting article in today’s Wall Street Journal regarding Clear Channel’s use of “voice tracking” and other means to give the illusion to listeners that a DJ is live and local despite the show being taped thousands of miles away.
Mr. Michaels says that he himself usually can’t tell when a show is voice-tracked from another city and when it’s live. “I don’t think it’s at all wrong or deceptive to put together terrific programs that reflect local communities and sometimes use talent who may physically be somewhere else,” he says. He compares the radio shows to films, which wouldn’t be “nearly as much fun if the camera kept turning around to show you it was just a set. I don’t know that the radio experience would be as good if we said every five minutes, ‘By the way, I’m not really here and I taped this 20 minutes ago.’ But that’s all part of the magic of creating entertainment.”
Why does one need to deceive? It seems to me the highest rated programs on the air these days are syndicated, in which no effort is made to be local: Howard Stern, Rush Limbaugh, etc. When it’s not the national feeds from NPR, I listen nearly exclusively to a local station that plays lots of non-mainstream local music, but the vast majority of radio listeners are tuning into cookie-cutter music from look-alike, sound-alike pop artists, so what do they care if something is local or not?
Sad, but true.