Imaging is a picture for the ear

Posted By on Aug 27 2010 12:00 AM
Before we begin:
For those of you who are unaware, imaging is the collective term for radio jingles (the short musical interludes between the songs)

And now we can begin.
When people ask me what I do for work, and I say I'm an imaging producer, they normally think it's all about pictures and are quite surprised when I tell them it's all audio based. Admittedly the name imaging is quite deceiving, as they'd be quite right in thinking it's all pictures, as thats what an image is. But it's made me think, as imaging producers, we do actually produce an image; not only an image in peoples minds, but an image of the station.

Listeners will have an image in their minds as to what a station sounds like by name, especially if they haven't heard it before. For example, Smash Hits Radio!, if you only heard it by name, you'd expect them to play, well... hits! And this is the case of this station, as it only plays chart hits that have been somewhere within the UK Top 40. The music is the biggest image of this station, as it is with all radio stations, and the imaging helps brand the station alongside the music, living up to its image. The imaging of Smash Hits features short vocal bursts of current chart artists, ranging from Robbie Williams to Pixie Lott, with some of their imaging presented to sound like the beginning of an actual song, which all fits in with the overall brand of the station. When hearing the imaging, you imagine the facial expression of Robbie and Pixie Lott and the other array of celebrities that appear in their jingles, you imagine being all up beat and lively, and hopefully the original image you had of the station is reinforced by its station sound.

If we were to use imaging in the literal term, I think the image that would best describe Smash Hits would be that of a party, with traditional and quirky decoration.

Let's compare the image of Smash Hits to the image of Magic. A completely different station with a different target audience, and a different sound. Magic is considered as an easy listening station, they'll be no Taio Cruiz on here! But perhaps peoples first perceptions of the station when they see the name would be of something charty, especially if they haven't listened to the station before. 

By using a female voiceover for their jingles, it bring a calm soothing voice to the station, that reflects its overall image. No whizzes or bangs with the majority of their jingles, as that doesn't represent the image of their station, and the jingles don't appear at the end of each song like that of Smash Hits. The overall image of Magic is smooth, easy listening, calm and collected. And as with Smash Hits, if we were to literally picture an image of Magic, I'd imagine a beach scene with a sunset.

Of course, these are my own personal reflections, other people might have different perceptions and views, and I've only picked Smash Hits and Magic as these are stations I don't normally write about, so it makes a nice change.

However, it does go to show that you should never underestimate the power of imaging, and as imaging producers, it's important to get the sound right for your clients or brand, otherwise listeners will be given the wrong impression and it might quash the first image they have in their head of the station. You want to fulfill the first image the listeners have of your station by producing the audio to match.

The next time someone asks you "is imaging about pictures?", you can say "yes", as you'll be producing an image for the listeners mind, by using the power of audio.

References:
Smash Hits Radio - Click Here
Magic - Click Here

*This article originates from the blog of Producer Pinnell and has been used with permission. Click Here to visit the blog

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