Effects are not applying on long recordings

I wonder if your separate recorder automatically leveled out your extreme sounds, so the show was one third finished before it ever left the recorder. A presentation like that would sail straight through post production processing.

You might be a client for RMS Normalize. That one ignores peaks in favor of paying attention to loudness. It was designed for the audiobook people.

https://forum.audacityteam.org/t/audiobook-mastering-version-4/45908/1

That will intentionally create peak damage and depends on following it with Limiter to suppress crunchy overload problems.

Koz