Radio Commercial

Can somebody please help me with the basics? A friend asked me to record a radio commercial for his small radio station. I am a complete novice to using Audacity, and am really struggling. I have to read about 10 paragraphs, and want to read them “separately.” Then, combine them into one file. I have figured-out how I make the separate “tracks” (I think is the right term), then align them end-to-end. But, I cannot figure-out how I “delete” or “reduce” the blank time at the end and beginning of each “track.” And, I cannot figure-out how to make the replay play all the tracks instead of just 2 out of 3 or 3 out of 4 (see attached screen shot). Please help me with some step-by-step guidance! Thank you very much, in advance.
Audacity Screen Shot.JPG

Use the Time Shift Tool (two sideways black arrows) to push track 2 so the trailing voice of track one matches up with the leading voice of track two. Yes, that means track two has to start before the end of track one. Don’t worry about the silent stretches, they should vanish if the recording is quiet enough.

Then snug up track three to the butt end of track two, etc.

MUTE and SOLO on the left of each track can be selected to make the tracks appear or vanish in the production. If all the tracks are active (not MUTED or SOLO’D) , they should play one after the other left to right.

When you’re done and it sounds OK, just File > Export: WAV (Microsoft) Do Not Use MP3 unless somebody tells you to. Audacity will smash all the tracks into one when it makes the final sound file.

It’s not a dreadful idea to Save an Audacity Project, too. That will give you an AUP file and a _DATA folder and you need them both. Open the show by double-clicking on the AUP file and your whole stack of tracks should come back. This will let you recut and edit if you need to, but Audacity does not save UNDO.

DO NOT save anything the same name as any of the original voice files. That steps on and destroys the original work, meaning you can’t back up or make a mistake without recording it all again.

I couldn’t help noticing that the blue waves were awfully high. As a rule, live voice work shouldn’t be much over 0.5 or -6dB (yellow zone) on the sound meters.

If you hit 1.0 (100%) blue waves on a regular basis, I bet your sound is rough and crunchy. That’s overload distortion. If it’s bad enough, you’ll need to record it again. There is no way to fix that. View > Show Clipping. You shouldn’t have any red marks in your show.

What commercial needs 10 paragraphs? A used car ad is over in five sentences.


Awesome. Thank you very much. That is a big help.

I was not actually recording what I was going to say in the commercial, but rather doing an auctioneering chant. But, I’m glad I was doing that, as what you wrote helps me for my “real recording.”

One follow-up question: I understand what you wrote about using the Time Shift Tool. BUT, I am doing something wrong, and it appears to be “tied” to the total time, maybe? Look at the attached screen shot. No matter where I use the Time Shift Tool in any of the 3 clips, it moves all 3 at the same time. I was able to move the bottom one by itself, but when I moved it back to start before the middle one starts, it made it where all 3 move at the same time. What am I doing wrong?

Again, thank you very much. This is pretty neat.
Audacity Screen Shot 2.JPG

That’s because all 3 are selected.
If you click on one of the waveforms it will remove the selectedness (un-highlight the waveforms). You will then be able to drag audio clips individually (provided “Sync-Lock” is not selected).

See here for more info about the Time Shift tool

(“Sync-Lock” is described here:

A friend asked me to record a radio commercial

So you’re producing sound effects for a commercial, not announcing a deal at Crazy Eddie’s Used Cars. That makes more sense. Even if you do get everything lined up (not that hard), you’re still going to have very loud and crunchy sound. Did you try View > Show Clipping?

Clipping or overload is where the sound gets so loud the digital system runs out of numbers and just starts drooling on its shirt. That’s 0dB on the sound meters and 100% on the blue waves. The overload parts of the show or dialog are permanently gone. There’s no filter than can put it back.

You’ll be recording those again.


There could be a theatrical reason to do that. If you’re simulating a country auction where the auctioneer is bellowing into a bad microphone, this could work.


With Audacity you can increase the speed of speech without changing the pitch [ No Chipmunk] by using either “Change Tempo” , or “Sliding Time Scale”, ( IMO the latter is less computery ). Ideal for cramming speech into a short commercial , ( or simulating professional-auctioneer’s rapid-speech ) …