Field Report: Adobe Systems Audition 1.5

March 1, 2005

As the largest operator of radio stations in the United States, Clear Channel Radio prides itself on the quality of its programming. In addition to the reach of our own 1,200 stations, Clear Channel's Premiere Radio Network syndicates more than 100 programs to more than 7,800 radio stations total. Premiere reaches 180 million listeners a week with its network.

To enhance our content, we have a network of top producers across the country creating imaging elements, such as station IDs and promotional spots. We strive to bring out the best in our producers and spur their creativity by equipping them with the best possible audio-editing tools and making it easy for them to share samples of their work and production tips.

Over the years, we've tried various strategies and tools for radio production. We are constantly learning new ways to make production more engaging and fun, and I believe it comes through in the quality of our broadcasts.

Cost-effective tools

Across Clear Channel, we use a mix of digital audio workstation (DAW) systems. Creative producers and imaging specialists in Clear Channel's markets are free to make their own decisions in selecting audio-editing tools — there are no national-level mandates telling them what they should use. The decision depends on individual needs and preferences, market size and budget.

Because of our wide span of coverage and the size of our network of stations, Clear Channel must place the best audio editing tools it can afford across its network of stations. At the same time, we must keep a close eye on budgets like most radio operators. It's also important to be sure that the audio-editing systems are easy enough for less technical producers, yet have enough features to satisfy technically savvy users.

In 2003, Clear Channel Radio made a strategic decision to purchase several hundred copies of Adobe Audition, a software-only audio editing program, for its network of stations. As budgets have shifted in the radio industry, expensive stand-alone, proprietary hardware and software workstations have become somewhat less attractive, and many stations and networks like Clear Channel Radio have moved toward software-only solutions.

We selected this program because it is intuitive, precise and inexpensive. It has allowed Clear Channel to place digital audio multitrack workstations economically in stations where we could not afford to install them in the past. The software gives producers many of the functions and features of systems costing many times more. In some instances, it is replacing analog, tape-based systems or augmenting other combined hardware and software systems.

From basic to long-form

We use Adobe Audition for everything from song parodies to sound design. In addition to its rich feature set and relatively inexpensive price, we also like it for its compatibility with the Prophet Nexgen digital audio storage system, which is used at many Clear Channel stations. Data from Audition is entered into the Prophet system without the need for time-consuming file translation. Because we purchased the software, it has become the standard in a number of facilities for basic production and in some stations is also used for long-form programming. It is a mainstay in our smaller markets, as well as our top 10 Clear Channel stations.

Performance at a glance
Multitrack mixing
Built-in audio effects and DSP tools
Waveform editing
Royalty-free music loops
Includes audio analysis tools
Supports VST and Direct-x plug-ins
Integrated CD burning

Creative Director Dave Savage, for example, produces imaging elements for two Clear Channel stations in Atlanta: oldies station WLCL and news talk radio WGST. Especially for the news talk station, he is constantly on deadline. When a hot news story breaks, he must quickly obtain sound bytes from the news networks and the local news department to create other audio elements that serve as lead-ins for announcers covering the story. Audition helps him record and edit quickly. He does not have to constantly set up new sessions, which is a major time savings. Also, the software doesn't mix down MP3 and WAV files in real-time like other DAWs. In other words, if he's creating a four-minute piece, he does not have to wait four minutes to get the completed project to the newsroom. Instead, it can be completed in a matter of seconds. This real-time processing feature is crucial for our producers, because of the deadline-driven nature of their jobs.

Steve Sykes at KSLZ in St. Louis uses the software to produce all of the station's imaging elements. He also does sound design for Premiere Radio Networks. A self-proclaimed audio geek, Sykes also takes advantage of real-time processing to speed production of promos and imaging. Because the software is intuitive, it is accessible to less technical producers, but also has the features and capabilities to satisfy technically oriented producers who use numerous real-time effects and compressors on a daily basis.

Morgan Mason, radio personality for WYYD in Roanoke and Lynchburg, VA, and imaging director for KYKS in Lufkin, TX, uses the system for everything from commercials to daily production of audio content such as jingles and station IDs. To streamline production, she recommends setting up shortcuts for common audio editing tasks such as dynamics processing and normalization. To create fun sound effects for both stations, she also matches up a variety of filters with various delay effects such as the bottom of the barrel reverb.

Sharing knowledge

In addition to providing everyone with digital-audio editing software, Clear Channel also helps producers share their work and leverage each other's knowledge. We've set up a production forum on our intranet that allows all of our producers to share ideas. Producers can post questions, ask for feedback and share knowledge with each other online.

Adobe Systems

They can also submit samples of their work such as contests, holiday promos and imaging elements to a website that other stations around the country can leverage or use to spur their own creative ideas. Called the Cook Imaging Site, this website helps producers by making station promos and imaging materials available in stages. We provide the fully produced element, followed by a stripped-down version, and finally its parts and pieces. Producers can share the finest work by the best producers and everyone can see how it went together.

At Clear Channel, we are proud of the programming we produce and the community of top-notch producers we've been able to attract. We've made strategic purchases of key tools and made these tools available to everyone across Clear Channel Radio. And we've made it easy for producers to share their expertise and work. For Clear Channel, these strategies have resulted in higher quality programming, at a cost-effective price point.

Cook is senior vice president of creative services, Clear Channel Radio.

Editor's note: Field Reports are an exclusive Radio magazine feature for radio broadcasters. Each report is prepared by well-qualified staff at a radio station, production facility or consulting company.

These reports are performed by the industry, for the industry. Manufacturer support is limited to providing loan equipment and to aiding the author if requested.

It is the responsibility of Radio magazine to publish the results of any device tested, positive or negative. No report should be considered an endorsement or disapproval by Radio magazine.

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