Our station (95.7 The Game) was fortunate enough to be part of a huge local story – the arrival of the San Francisco Giants into the 2014 World Series (their 3rd in 5 years).
We were broadcasting the Play by Play via ESPN and needed to make sure we sounded totally invested in this huge local story.
MY GOAL: Get custom World Series promos on the air as fast as possible after each game. We’re talking minutes – not hours.
Additionally – my goal for each promo was to capture the tree-top story of the previous game – use that to promote the compelling story and meaning for the next game – and deliver the essential info: time of the next game , sponsors.
This post covers my Production workflow and creative approach to promoting these huge interest games. If you just want to hear the 8 Promos before reading – they are HERE.
ANTICIPATE THE OUTCOMES
First step was writing copy ahead of time for my voice talent Steve Stone. Since 3 of the Games (including several potential final games) were happening over the weekend – I had to anticipate multiple outcomes for each game – and as importantly – what each outcome means moving ahead to the next game.
I like to use as much play by play audio from the games as possible to help paint the picture and tell the story. That lets me use the VO to connect the big dots and not have to predict all the minutia.
Next – deciding on my Sonic Palette. Sonic Palette is the package of sounds I’ll use to deliver a consistent sound and audio style for the entire promotion.
I collected about 10 music themes in related keys that all fell within the Hybrid Epic/Cinematic genre (I actually only used 4 or 5 of these). I approach these events like movies. They should sound as big as a hollywood epic.
2 SONIC COLORS
For any baseball game there’s just 2 outcomes – you win – or you lose. (baring weather or act of god type shit) So I needed 2 styles of sound – 2 brushes to paint with for each outcome.
This being a Giants town – I collected a few examples of what I call “Apocalyptic” style trailer music. This was to be used to create a different sound for the promos when the Giants had a bad day and lost a game.
I already had some “Let’s Go Giant’s” crown chants from previous recordings – and was pleased to get a new batch of clear “GO – GIANTS!” from Chris Ball – one of our show producers – which I used extensively throughout the campaign.
PUTTING IT TOGETHER
In my home studio I’d watch the game on TV (screen on right, below) and listen to our Broadcast on a little portable radio.
I was connected to my work machine at the Radio Station (screen on the left) to pull audio from our Broadcast.
I knew the producers back at the radio station would send me audio of the big moments: home runs, big plays, the final out etc . . . so I listened for the color commentary – anything that helped paint a picture for Radio listeners. I made notes of everything interesting that was said so I could pull it off the station logger.
By the time the game was over I’d already have a rough pass of the promo done – including any audio I felt helped tell the story of the night.
Because I had already chosen my beds and effects ahead of time I could slide different pieces in and out quickly to see what matched the play by play audio the best.
I’d produce the promo with the goal of getting the final back into the station and on the air within 30 minutes. Sometimes it was a little longer as I obsessed over edits and sounds and production stuff.
These situations put dueling goals at war with each other – expediency and quality. The truth is – it has to be both.
It has to be on the air fast – AND great!
Since the series went 7 games – here’s the 8 promos from the Giants winning the NLCS all the way through to the congratulations promo.
PROMO 2 – GIANTS WIN GAME 1.
PROMO 3 – ROYALS WIN GAME 2.
PROMO 4 – ROYALS WIN GAME 3
PROMO 5 – GIANTS WIN GAME 4
PROMO 6 – GIANTS WIN GAME 5
PROMO 7 – ROYALS WIN GAME 6
PROMO 8 – GIANTS WIN WORLD SERIES IN GAME 7
After game 7 I also produced a custom Congrats Giants! promo for each of our 5 stations using their own station voice and music that matched their format. That was also delivered to each station within 30-40 minutes of the end of the game. That’s radio!
A Post mortem in creative projects is all about accessing what went right – and what went wrong (or could be improved) for next time.
From a process point of view – I believe the workflow approach I’ve developed as outlined above works quite well.
But I often wonder how important it is to go through all this trouble just to get a promo on the air as fast as possible.
I believe the answer is – it depends. For early-mid season games (especially baseball) – this is probably overkill.
But huge events with high local interest like this – where each event literally creates more interest and more demand for the next event – this was a no brainer. It had to be done and helps build momentum and anticipation.
From a producers point of view – this is literally the best situation because I’m promoting something that already has high passion and interest.
Most of the time in Radio Imaging our Programmers depend on the Promo to manufacture hype for something common or mundane. So this is an incredible treat.
But with so much inherent interest and passion in the event -it’s my view that the promos really need to step up and capture that passion as fully as possible.
And that leads to what could be improved? The real question is how well I captured the spirit of the moment. Does it generate or reflect the feelings and emotions of the moment -and does it connect with listeners?
These things that are tough to know, but it’s always my goal. I’m not sure everything here lives up to my own high standards – but I’m also not feeling like I missed big opportunities either.
It’s a tough spot to be in – nothing went “wrong” – and while I’m sure I could have done somethings better – I’m not sure exactly how I could have elevated it, either.
Either way – this process of taking stock of my approach and the results I was able to achieve will help me improve for the next time.
I hope this rough outline of my Promo and production approach gives you some ideas and thoughts about how to approach similar events on your station.
I’d love to hear any ideas or thoughts about your methods – please share!