The Mysteries of Radio

In October, Dust City was nominated for the 2012 Red Maple Award, part of Ontario’s Forest of Reading Program; a couple weeks ago, one of the organizers contacted the nominees with an unexpected proposition.

“We would like to see if a few of you could be voice recorded,” she wrote in an email, “for a commercial” to be played on an Ottawa radio station. I agreed, of course. (How often do you get to make a radio ad?)

A few days later, I drove up to a grey, anonymous, commercial park in the northern netherburbs of Toronto. There I met some of the folks at Sky Words, a recording studio that specializes in “aerial advertising.”

I learned that while they often record audio ads like the one I was about to make, their true specialty is traffic reports, which they provide to a host of different radio stations across the country. (Who knew you could run a news-gathering service almost exclusively reporting on traffic jams? It’s surely proof that car-culture in Canada is alive and revving.)

Before I started recording, Lisa, the program director, offered this small insight into how radio is made. “Speak with a smile on your face,” she told me. “It will make you sound livelier and more friendly.”

I’m not sure if you can hear how I was grinning like a fool (at least at the beginning), but if you’d like a listen, here’s how the ad turned out:

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My thanks to Lisa, Sky Words, DAWG FM in Ottawa, and Meredith with the Forest of Reading Program. Woof.

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