Tips for recording Spots for Radio Broadcast

Hi, We’re recording spots and PSAs for a new streaming radio station. Can any one offer any tips about how we can get close to that full professional sound you hear on the professionally produced commercial spots?

I am thinking about using the Audio-Technica AT2020USB Mic

Stuff you can’t fix in Audacity.

Almost without exception the most common thing that kills amateur presentations on YouTube is the sound. Pictures are stunningly perfect, but they sound like they were recorded with the camcorder microphone in a bathroom.

Announcers tend to not have regional accents except in a very broad sense. Southern radio stations would sound a little weird without at least a little draw to the words, but even that’s going away because the radio station in Atlanta is programmed in South Philadelphia. If you sound like you come without question from north-western Nashville, become a cook (unless you’re doing a personality show).

Most people announce like they talk on the phone. If you could hear your own voice you would go hide in a closet. Swing and expression are critical, not just a deep voice. We have two radio cooking shows in Los Angeles, Malinda Lee sounds like somebody’s mom and she’s fun to listen to because she’ll occasionally lose it on the air. Lynne Rossetto Kasper has a voice you can serve with crème fraîche and a little raspberry sorbet. She would sound terrific reading the Glendale phone book.

All of which makes Audacity and the equipment largely irrelevant. I have recorded (other people’s) professional presentation sound tracks with a Shure SM-58, flat wind screen, cheap Tascam sound mixer and my Mac Powerbook behind a pillow. Oh, and Audacity 1.2.4, before I found out about the memory leak. I walked around the building until I found the quietest room and set up with moving quilts spread around to soak up echoes.

This sound test was recorded with a 50 year old ribbon microphone on top of my feather duvet on the bed. The bedroom is carpeted and I have a cottage cheese ceiling. There’s just enough ‘room’ there so it doesn’t sound like I’m talking in a black hole.


Looks good to me. Some notes:

– You can’t get away from a noisy computer – or at least further away than one USB cable, and the cables do not extend well.

– Put that microphone on top of four or five spread out fluffy towels to avoid desk noise and reflections of your voice from the desk.

– USB microphones are almost without question lower in volume than you think to avoid overload problems. There’s no mixer there to set sound levels and crashing overload is permanent and fatal. This makes post production an adventure because you have to do level setting and compression after the fact.

– Pop and blast filters are really desirable.

– There is no “Professional Audio Plugin.” If it doesn’t sound good in your high quality, acoustic seal headphones, you’re dead. And yes, you do need really good headphones. Nobody but me has a killer sound system connected to their computer – and in any event, I can’t use it while I’m recording.


Thanks Koz, the feedback is much appreciated.