Radio stars (Oct 1938)

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« X Network star Rachel Carley, accompanied by Vol Ernie, sings for a transcription. At the control board, Bill Monroe regulates the volume and But do you know why recorded shows hare become so THE time has come when radio-wise listeners no longer turn up their collective noses at transcribed programs. They no longer give the dial a determined twist upon hearing the words "electrical transcription, recording or mechanical reproduction." Nor do they sneeringly call such programs fakes and frauds. There may be some—and they are in the minority— who never tune in such programs because they are con- vinced that transcriptions are inferior entertainment, that they are nothing but "phonograph records", and poorly presented at that. In any event, electrical transcriptions command both respect and attention as a major division of the radio industry. At the present time the broadcast revenue derived from them is half the g y | amount expended on live talent shows. In 1934, the sum was over $6,000,000; in 1936, - . _ $11,000,000; and in 1938 the figure will RID probably near the $15,000,000 mark. Then, too, there are those non-revenue-producers, the sustaining shows. In this category the use of transcriptions is well nigh limitless. There are several reasons for this phenomenal growth, the first being the improvement of recording technique. Any authority on the subject will defy the average listener to detect a difference between a live show and a tran- scribed one. He will also admit that sometimes even his own practiced ear can be fooled! For example, a group of air executives were asked to listen to a real show and a recorded one, and then to state which was which. They all admitted that it was impossible to decide, even after close, concentrated listening. Advertisers have discovered that they may use tran- scriptions to reach specific markets otherwise inaccessible via the network route, and small-town station owners have come to the conclusion that their listeners prefer a good transcribed program, featuring superior artists, to the mediocre talent available locally. In spite of these facts, however, it is probable that transcriptions will never completely replace live talent in listener interest. There is one unsurmountable handicap —the knowledge that there are no living people actually performing before the mike at the very moment you are listening to them. Logically, this feeling should not exist. Suppose you don't hear the program simultaneously with its performance, but at a later date. You don't see motion pictures as they are being enacted, either, yet sometimes months and years elapse between their completion and release date. You enjoy them for what they are—entertainment. And you know that artists and tech- nicians have devoted effort, time and money to bringing you pleasure and amusement. What, after all, is the difference ? Into the recording of a transcription goes just as much work and labor as that expended on a live show. Detailed scripts must be written, exactly as they are for the latter. Actors, orchestras, comedians and singers are paid for their services, and the same general procedure adhered to. Let us, for example, look into a recording studio, one of the forty or fifty in New York alone. There is a win- dowless room, bare except for microphones and a piano. The walls are acoustically (Continued on page 67) LLA D L E