Is the radio broadcast live, or is it voice-tracked?
The Perry and Price show now airs an extra two hours on KSSK-AM 590 as the practice of voice-tracking expands across the dial and across the industry.
"We've made some shift changes to utilize the stronger" air personalities, said Chuck Cotton, vice president and general manager of the seven Honolulu stations owned by Texas-based Clear Channel Communications Inc.
Voice tracking is recording a show for playback. An hours-long show can be recorded, or "tracked," in minutes. It automatically plays from a computer system that also airs music and commercials, requiring human intervention only when something goes wrong.
Even announcements about an unspeakable midday freeway fatality can be plugged into the machine, making the station sound live.
The extension of the KSSK-AM morning show and the three-hours-earlier start of Dick Wainwright at noon eliminated Chris Peters' midday show.
"He was doing 10 (a.m.) to 3 (p.m.) on KSSK-AM," said Cotton.
Peters, who has been at Clear Channel for eight years, is now "producing the Mike Buck show (on KHVH-AM 830) and has an air shift on Sundays so there's sort of a promotion in there for him," Cotton said.
The voice-tracking expansion is the implementation of personnel changes made in early December, he said. "A news announcer and producer were let go," he said at the time.
"We didn't change any of the other morning shows" and other stations' lineups stayed the same, though Maleko on KUCD-FM 101.9 "is on longer," he said yesterday.
Some stations are empty overnight, but Cotton said, "We are never without a human being inside this building."
In recent months, several broadcast behemoths have been firing longtime employees, extending morning and afternoon personalities' time on the air. The air shifts are covered, but there may be nobody in the studio to respond to calls from the community.
Larry Price has worked for KSSK since it was KGMB-AM radio, in about the mid-1970s, while Michael W. Perry and Dick Wainwright joined the then-stand-alone station later in the decade.
There have long been automated radio stations, but in the past they were few in number. Most stations were staffed with on-air personalities in all dayparts -- mornings, middays, afternoon drive, evenings and overnights.
The traditional radio daypart may not exist anymore. "That's the thinking as we move more toward the People Meter," Cotton said, referring to radio ratings company Arbitron's move from a diary method to an automated system that has suffered many setbacks.
Arbitron's problem-plagued Portable People Meter isn't scheduled for local deployment until 2010.
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