The Making of a PawSox Radio Commercial

You hear commercials every night during a Pawtucket Red Sox radio broadcast, and if it wasn’t for them, we’d never be able to bring you 144 games of PawSox baseball on radio.  Although we’ve all heard them, chances are you’ve never thought about what goes into making all those commercials that play each night of the season.

Well, all of that is about to change.  Yesterday I made my first trip to our flagship station, 920 AM WHJJ, in Providence, Ri. to voice three 30-second commercials (also known as “spots).  I thought it might be fun to snap a few pics and take you behind the scenes of what it looks like to make the commercials that you’ll hear every night starting in April.

I recorded these particular commercials in what’s known as a “Production Studio.”  This is a room with similar equipment used for actually running a radio program, the difference is that this room lacks the ability to actually put someone over the air.  It’s dedicated to exactly what we were doing Friday: voicing and producing radio commercials.

I’m holding in my hand a 30-second script for the commercial I was reading.  It’s pretty surprising how quickly 30 seconds flies by when you’re trying to talk about a particular company, what makes them so great, their phone number, website, etc.  The phrase “economy of words” is used a lot when writing radio commercials because you have to make every second count.

Typically, the sponsor will send us the script (or “copy”) they want me to read for their particular commercial.  However, more times than not, it needs to be edited down so that it can be read in the allotted time (30 or 60 seconds).

You might have noticed that the microphone is to the side of my mouth instead of directly in front of me. Have you ever heard someone speak into a microphone and every time they said a word like “PawSox” the “P” popped in the microphone?  Chances are it’s even happened to you at some point.  By placing the microphone to the side of my mouth it prevents letters like “P” and “T” from popping the microphone. Even the microphones attached to our headsets that we use to call play-by-play each night are placed off to the side of our mouths.

After I record each commercial, that’s when the real work begins.  Pictured above is Sam, the producer of “PawSox Insider” and an all around great guy.  The waveforms you see on the computer screen are actually my voice.  When you think about it, it’s pretty cool that you can see sound.

Sam’s job is to edit the waveforms to make a smooth 30-second commercial.  See, when I was reading the copy, there were a couple of times where I either stumbled or took a longer pause than normal in-between sentences.  By using the computer, Sam can out easily cut the parts where I messed up and can also remove the occasional two-second gap of silence where I was taking a longer breath.

Once he edits it down to 30 seconds, he simply adds some music (known as a “bed”), and it’s done! When you have someone like Sam who knows what he’s doing, making a simple radio commercial doesn’t take longer than 15 minutes start to finish.

There you have it, you’re now qualified to work at your local radio station.  Hope you’ll tune in often throughout the season – even to the commercials.




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Loving the vintage iMac in the corner.

I know! I almost mentioned that in the piece … haven’t seen one of those in person since probably 2003. -AG

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