Today I received some new Imaging pieces from my buddy Mike Santos. Mike works at Amp Radio in LA and is responsible to make one of Americas biggest Morning Show sounds awesome! He is the guy for Carson Daly’s Imaging. Mike added his thoughts and insight about imaging one of the most popular morning shows in the world. The greatest thing for me personally is how great the Fame FX package works for Mike and Carson. Check the Imaging Assasin Mike Santos !

‘Doing imaging for a morning show is really a fly by the seat of your pants kind of situation on a weekly basis.  outside of my regular responsibilities (show maintenance, countdown, etc), I never really know how it will be coming into work every day.  Sometimes Carson and Angie (carson’s producer) will have an idea and you’ll have 15 minutes to get it done, and it NEEDS to be done. There have been times when they’ve had to stall during a live break just so i had enough time to load a bit in and for the system to refresh.  It’s really an exciting thing and forces you to keep your focus because you don’t have the time to go back and nit pick the little things.

On the day-to-day, lot of my time is spent doing artist intros, montages, and bit opens.  I LOVE producing guest intros. Mainly for the reactions that we get from guest because I don’t think they’re expecting it. We just did an interview with Justin Timberlake after the VMA’s and when he heard his intro, the first words that came out of his mouth were “Wow,” followed by “That was the best thing I’ve ever heard on the radio in the history of EVER!”  I got a big kick out of that one. They’re not terribly time consuming to do, but they really do stand out. I think we’re the only station in town doing intros like that.
Montages are something we a lot on the show. Whether it’s for an award show recap, a big pop culture event, or even a week in review.  Obviously, because of Carson’s involvement with the voice, we preview and recap the show on a weekly basis, so that is usually top priority when we’re in season. I don’t like to rely on prep services for this stuff, because you don’t really get everything, so I’ll usually tape the show the night before and take note of what drops I want to use, so when I come in the next morning, I know EXACTLY where everything is. I just need to grab it, cut it and load it up.
Early on, Carson gave me a lot of rope as far as how to produce the things he wanted and just what to produce in general.  The Amanda Bynes song, for example, was something I was goofing with.  We had spent A LOT of time talking about her and I was bored one morning and made it. I sent it to Carson and Angie, and they said, “Load it up.” It shows a lot of trust and really allows me to see what I can come up with.
The new addition to the family is the daly download. It’s a weekly syndicated show that we started doing about 2 months ago.  This one is my baby, because it’s start-to-finish, me.  Because we do 2 formats (CHR and HotAC) every week, I really had to make sure the imaging worked for both formats.  Also, I wanted to make sure that it sounded like AMP, while at the same time making sure it fit with all the other stations it’s running on. All the imaging was built with Fame FX and Beatport.
Imaging wise, Jake (our imaging director), has AMP supercharged and all about forward momentum, so I want to make sure that the morning show stays consistent with that ideology. We don’t use a lot of the “tricks” that most CHRs use (beatmixing/stutter edits/etc) and if we use them, they’re used super sparingly.
I like to play with vocal layering a lot. Using an exciter, or pitching down a VO track or whatever. Just playing with different plugs to see what kind of sounds I get out of it. I’m obsessed with H-Delay and will use it on almost everything — music, vox, FX, whatever. I’ll also use Cosmonaut, Enigma, Metaflanger, and Mondomod. I keep it fairly simple. Like I said before, when i’m doing morning show stuff, I don’t really have a lot of time to play, so I really have to stick to my “go-to’s.”
The main thing that I try to focus on when i’m producing is making sure the imaging matches the music in terms of power. Pop music, in most cases, is so compressed these days, that if we come out of stop set with a wimpy rejoin and slam into a big song, it’s just a train wreck, so I try really hard to make sure we’re matching up with where our music is. For the most part, I’ve stopped using production service beds and have gone to Beatport exclusively (thanks, Konsky!).  Nothing against what the prod services are putting out there, but I just like the variety of styles that I can find on there. Plus, if you find a really cool breakdown in a song somewhere, it can really open the creativity doors when it comes to producing a sweeper with it. As far as everything else goes, I use a combination of the Audiotrack compressor, Pro Tools Limiter, and L1 on my master. I used to have the C-4 in that chain as well, but had to take it out. It sounded great through the monitors, but just pushed way too hard through our air chain.
Side note — really pay attention to your air chain. I think sometimes we get so preoccupied with what sounds great in our studios, that we forget about what goes out on the air. Always check on that. And if you’re working freelance, check in with your stations from time-to-time to see how it’s sounding.
  1. Great read! Love Mike’s work, big fan!

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