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Andy’s Fiver Friday #139 – BCA in Singapore, ElectroSPIT and be careful who you hang out with!

Benztown Imaging Blog - Fri, 06/22/2018 - 06:16

This week has passed by super fast and I am on the plane, at least with one foot, on my way to lovely Singapore for Broadcast Asia. I am so looking forward to be back in Singapore again and meet all off my asian radio friends, imaging gurus and of course the On-Air, Yellowtec and Zenon crew. The booth we run together is in the German Pavillon at SunTec Booth 4F 2-07. So stop by and lets have a cold one!


1. PlugIn

Groundbreaking new technology, definitely looking forward to this!

ElectroSpit ESX-1 Mobile Talkbox

Let’s all make this project a reality and back it on kickstarter.

2. Inspiration

Find inspiration in people you know, meet, hang out with! Remember you are the average of the 5 people you surround yourself the most..

3. Music

Some old school R’n’B…Still love that!

4. Web/Social/Whatever

See you all at:

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Posted by BroadcastAsia on Monday, October 30, 2017

I already look forward to meeting you!

5. Imaging

Fantastic Imaging from Justin Dove, national Imaging director for Newcap in Canada, Sound Design Guru, Salmon Fisher and and and…If you have not checked my interview with him.


Imaging Canada, the US and working from home or meet Justin Dove, THE Salmon Fisher!

Benztown Imaging Blog - Thu, 06/21/2018 - 05:32

So, finally, this has been in the making, at least on my agenda for a long time, not so much on Justin’s as his turn around was incredibly fast. This interview will blow your mind, Justin’s career path is crazy. Discover one of Canada’s most talented Imaging Guys and learn about Imaging, PlugIns, Sound Design and of course a lot about the Man HIMSELF. ENTER Justin!

1. Justin, give me a bit background on yourself, what is your career path, where did you start in radio and how?

– I grew up in a small fishing village on the East coast of Canada, in Newfoundland, called Too Good Arm. Population 100 people. My parents still live there, and I visit usually once or twice per year. I started in radio with the public broadcaster here in Canada – CBC Radio. The radio station was about an hour and 20 minute drive from my parents place. I started there on an internship – cutting street interviews, weather and audio editing – as well as some behind the scenes TV work with camera and lighting set up. I was still in high school at the time – Grade 11-12. Before that, myself and my brother started doing a WWF/WCW wrestling news show via Real Audio player. (Grade 11 or there about) This was first when the streaming technology sorta became available. I also remember getting my very first mp3 file during that time. I was like, WTF is this..mp3??!!! Uploading Real Audio files via 28 Mbps dial up was a son of a bitch, let me tell ya. haha. Phone lines were so horrid at the time, 56 Kbps download was unheard of in my area.

Since then, I have had stops all over Atlantic Canada, Toronto (twice)..and now Calgary. My work has been pretty much heard all over Canada and the US via various companies, as well from the sky via SXM. During my time in Halifax (Nova Scotia) is when free lance really took off for me (mid 2000’s I guess). Out of Halifax, I produced imaging for Virgin Radio Canada, as well as KISS 92 (Toronto) and various Cox Media stations in the US. From CHR, Country..rock..etc. Just recently, I picked up a Christian radio client – my first ever. While I’m a hard rock KoRn, Metallica, Deftones, SlipKnot kinda guy – I really appreciate the Christian radio music/format. It’s extremely well done. From places as small as Gander (Newfoundland-Canada)..to as big as New York City. How a guy from a small town of 100 people ever ended up catching the ears of those people is beyond me. I’ve had a lot of really great people in my corner. From business and personal life. Everyone has backed me, and cheered me on. I’ve been pretty lucky.

Right now during the day, I am National Imaging Director for Newcap Radio – my day, evening and off hours are packed with a lot of free lance as well. I won’t lie – it’s not easy all the time nor glamorous. Some days are very very long, and others are over at 3pm. One day, I plan on not working as much. My fiance is wondering when that day is coming. hahaha Currently, I reside in Calgary (Alberta-Canada) with my fiance Karla, dog Blaise and 3 cats. Yes, we’re a little animal crazy at the house.

2. How is it to image / work from home now? Challenges / Improvements etc

– Imaging day to day in radio is still a lot of fun to me, and I hope it never stops being fun. I still get a kick out of hearing a promo when it goes on the air – or when a neat little piece of sound design I created is used. I get that cool like nerdy feeling. haha. With more demand these days with free lance and my day job, I tend to enjoy working from home more often. There’s no commuting. You get up at 530 a.m with a coffee and start right in! Go till 5 pm (If you’d like, or longer..haha). Zero interruptions. It just allows me to get more done. I realize not a lot of companies are fans of having people work from home. I think that’s an outdated way of running a business in 2018. For me, I could care less if someone produced a piece of imaging in a cave, in the woods or on a boat 500 miles out into the ocean with a rusty nail. Does it sound great? Does it connect with the audience…written well..project is on time, etc? If yes, who really cares where it’s produced? I don’t. We have Skype, social media, face time, internet, etc. We have never been more connected to each other.
In my line of work, working from home allows me to focus a lot more. While socializing at the work place is great, it sometimes hinders getting all the work done, so I have to manage the time I spend talking about last nights hockey game. If I need to bounce ideas off people, I’ll call them – let them listen to what I am doing, etc. If I need to get air and clear my head, I’ll take my dog for a short walk around the block. Plus, I enjoy the comforts of my own space. Studio gear that’s tailored to the way I want it for my work flow. I really need to maximize every single minute I can get – or I fall behind, projects fall behind and PDs get angry. haha

Other challenges? Staying on top of the tech – what’s out there – who’s doing what, etc. I find Soundcloud is a great resource to find out what others are doing. Also, to a more detailed extent – podcast that have chats with other producers or sound design producers. All very valuable resources.

As for what I could improve? That’s an easy one. Production of sound design – music beds, elements, indents, etc. Trying to find more audio production work that really challenges my mind and creativity. Sometimes day to day radio work can start to feel monotonous and comfortable. If you get too comfortable you can miss out on opportunities to make something great. Naturally, everyone’s work load is different. Getting time to create quality work is key. I think the industry as a whole is lacking in that area. It’s where radio needs to improve. Giving creative people proper time to create a better product. Respect the process.

3. What makes you sound special? What techniques and Imaging tricks do you use the most?

Ha. I don’t know if I would consider myself special. I’ve spent a lot of spare time just nerding out, playing around with various sounds and techniques. What might make my work different from others? Maybe I use a lot of distortion in voice. GTR Plug-Ins and basically any guitar plug-in on voice over is what I tend to use a lot. Creates sort of a dirty crunchy edgy sound. Nasty for AC, but it works for CHR, Rock, etc. For my sound design, I totally approach things from a “would I find this useful” standpoint. I’m not a musical dude. I don’t play instruments. I just sit back and I mess with endless midi programs. After much experimenting, I come up with something that I like, and what I can use.

4. VO Treatment, how does your regular VO chain look?

Hmm, again….it’s back to to distorting plug ins. Various guitar racks, EQs..etc. Sometimes I will place effects and eq directly on a track. Sometimes I’ll bus it to another track. Just depends on my mood. I have a basic Pro Tools template that I use….. basic L2 on the master, simple Q10 plug in….usual reverb, etc – however, it’s just that – very basic. I am always building on it, and it’s different every session. I start with a simple template, then build in all the other plug ins/tracks that may work for that particular session.

5. What production system do you use and why?

I’ve been a Pro Tools guy for a long long time, and it’s what I am comfortable with. Programs like Audition 6 would really limit me. That’s my personal opinion. I can’t create what I want in it – zero midi tracks and sometimes outside plug ins can run very clunky within the program…as well as zero grid mode. Eventually, I’d like to branch out into other DAWS, like Logic and such. They seem much more music production friendly. I just started using UAD plug ins recently. Went ahead and bought myself an Apollo 8 DUO. Impressive hardware and impressive plug ins. I just needed to evolve a little more, and grow my sound. It does not benefit anyone (including myself) if I stay in my comfort zone. Your brain turns to mush.

6. What is your most favorite PlugINs/virtual instruments?

That’s a loaded question. haha. These are in no particular order.
– Anything from Native Instruments.
– Sugar Bytes Effectrix
– IZotope Beat Tweaker
– Q10 (Waves)
– Anything Sound Toys
– Sound Morph Timeflux
– Spectrasonics Omnisphere (if I really wanna mess sounds up..haha)
– REQ 4 (Waves)
– RVox (Waves)
– GTR Tool Rack (Waves)
– Butch Vig Vocals (Waves) – SansAMP

7. New findings? Things you play around the most these days?

Overall, I just find myself getting lost more and more into the sound design world and music via virtual instruments. It’s just a different level I can add to my radio production. I will be the very first to admit, I mostly have no clue what I am doing – but I really enjoy it, and it works my brain. In the future, I’d like to dive more into Moog Music. It could become an expensive habit – but well, it looks like a lot of fun. I need to find more time to create unique material, and less time doing summer back yard party promos brought to you by a client…haha. I know those pay the bills, but it does absolutely nothing for improving on my skills.

8. Your advice for a young person starting in radio imaging?

Be humble. Never think you’re greater than anyone else. Keep learning, and keep evolving. I really don’t understand ego in radio imaging or radio in general. Maybe if you’re a massive morning team that get huge numbers. However, if you’re a radio imaging producer, PD, etc. You’re not a rock star, nor an athlete. The every day person has no idea who you are, nor do they care. haha. Get over it. Leave ego at the door.

Treat people as you like to be treated, and never act as if someone is below you. It’s just silly. One day, that person could be your boss, the PD you work for, etc.

Getting out of your comfort zone is a big thing as well. Learn a different writing style, try producing on a different DAW. For a company that you work for, make yourself impossible to replace by working hard and approaching promos and imaging in a cool/unique way. Make your production/writing so cutting edge and so different, you become as important as the music on the radio station.

9. Off Hours – when you’re not doing audio stuff.

– I try to get back to Newfoundland to salmon fish, usually every summer. I enjoy time away from cities and Pro Tools. Nothing better than the salt water hitting your face, or watching Arctic ice floes around the bays back home in Newfoundland in the summer. You can’t beat it. My fiance and I also foster animals..cats/dogs. It’s great to help out animals in need. On a Friday night, you might find a dog/cat in my lap as we watch a weeks worth of PVRd programing.

For further information check out Justin’s Core Image Studio as well as his demo on benztownradio:


Andy’s Fiver Friday #138 – The World Cup is on, advices from 2000 years ago and did I mention the World Cup is on:)..

Benztown Imaging Blog - Fri, 06/15/2018 - 08:12

Did I mention : The world cup is on..and of course the world cup is ON!!!! YEAH!!! 4 weeks of awesomeness, I mean for everyone beside the USA, Italy and the Netherlands :)…

1. PlugIn

Best Stadium delay ever for your World Cup production – I mean of them


Andy’s Fiver Friday #137 – Ian Kirkpatrick, Sorbas and Capital Best of May 2018

Benztown Imaging Blog - Fri, 06/08/2018 - 04:22

So the next week has gone by and intense travel season is near. Singapore and BCA 2018 around the corner, LRT in Nuernberg, a NYC visit and and and…This weeks findings – pure AWESOMENESS!

1. PlugIn

More from my favorite plugin and a guy, who an really use it :)..

2. Inspiration

I cant point out enough how much this book has influenced my life.  I bet there is an english version available


Programming to Win: 7 Ways Your Station Voice Makes Your Copy Rock

Benztown Voice-Over Blog - Wed, 06/06/2018 - 23:03

By Rich Van Slyke

Every day I receive your copy, along with a set of carefully thought out very detailed instructions about voicing your station imaging. Like this:

“Rich – script attached – do your thing”

And I love it. Because Program Directors and Brand Managers are too busy to give me a lot of instructions, and you depend on me to interpret and deliver your copy the right way. It’s my job to make your copy COME ALIVE!

So here’s how I do it. When I get your copy, I quickly apply 7 ways to make it rock.

1. The Message. The first thing I ask is, “what is the main idea you are trying to deliver?” If you want me to remember one thing, and only one thing, after hearing this promo, what is it? Everything I do as a voice talent, from the type of read, to the ad libs, must communicate the main message. So, as I read through the copy, I’m asking myself – how does this line help to re-enforce the message.

2. Your Branding. Whether it’s a country station targeted to females 18-34, or a sports station targeting Men 18-44, or a classic rock station targeting Adults 25-54, a voice talent must always keep in mind the brand. What does this station stand for? What is the overall image? Why do people listen? And then I must ask, “Is the way I’m delivering the copy appropriate for the brand?” Too hard? Too soft? Too friendly? Too badass? I have to keep in mind that when I voice for you, my personality must be the same as the personality of your radio station. I represent the brand and I must deliver the copy accordingly. Every line must be cohesive with your brand.

3. The Emotion. This is the fun part for me. A very smart creative director once told me, it’s not what you say, it’s how you feel when you say it. When we hear the feeling in your voice, it gives us permission to feel the same feeling. It doesn’t matter which emotion you choose to feel, as long as you choose one! It’s my job to find the emotion in your copy and deliver it in a way that makes you FEEL IT! As I read your copy, I make little notes on the page. This part is exciting, this part is funny, this part is unimportant, this part is urgent. I select a feeling for each one. But I also make sure that those feelings align with the Message and the Branding. Very Important. After recording the first take, I go back and listen to the lines that are marked with emotion. Did I evoke the feeling, or was it just plain old boring announcer, like reading a shopping list? If it don’t hear the emotion, I recut the copy. Sometimes, it’s not obvious which emotion should be used, so my default emotion is always confidence. Why? Because confidence makes station imaging sound good. Not fake, but rock-solid impressive. When your voice guy speaks confidently, the station sounds like a winner. Speaking with confidence can get you higher ratings. It can even get you elected president!

4. The Grammar. Part of my job is to correct bad grammar. And to remember that you are busy as hell and you don’t always have time to check for grammar. So I’ll read it as written, but I’ll also give you another take with correct grammar. And maybe even another take with bad grammar on purpose. Why? Because it evokes more emotion.

5. The Ad Libs. Everybody loves ad libs. Because they make you laugh, or chuckle, or feel surprised, or delighted, or make you nod your head in agreement, all of these are emotional responses. So I try to throw in great ad libs. How? By focusing on the emotion of the copy. If the promo is all about winning a trip to the beach in Mexico, I’ll focus on that emotion. What does it feel like to win a trip to Mexico? It feels like – (ad lib). What does it feel like to sit on the beach in Mexico? It feels like (ad lib). Focus on the feeling and the ad libs will come. If it makes me feel something, you will feel it too.

6. The Recording. As a voice guy, it’s my job to record my voice according [to] the above factors. And the way it’s recorded makes a big difference. Once again, I look to the emotion. IF the copy calls for something soft and intimate, I have to get close to the mic. And if it’s loud, I have to back off. Sometimes I’ll add reverb or a filter.

7. Your Feedback. After careful considering the message, the branding, the emotion, the grammar, the ad-libs, and the recording, I filter everything through feedback I’ve receive from you. If you’ve told me not to voice stuff that sounds to “announcery,” then I will change all of the above slightly to reflect your wishes and voice it more naturally. If the last promo I voiced for you resulted in an email that says, “love the edge,” I’ll remember that too. When you incorporate all of these elements into a read, you get great results. And it rocks!


Rich Van Slyke does VO for KUFX San Francisco, WWSK Long Island, KSEG Sacramento, KXTG Portland, KZDC San Antonio, KCFX Kansas City, Production Vault Classic Rock, WONE Akron, WXMX Memphis, WGRD Grand Rapids, KKFM Colorado Springs, WZEW Mobile, WKQZ Saginaw, WKZQ Myrtle Beach, WTMM Albany, KZOZ San Luis Obispo, KOZZ Reno, KTUX Shreveport, WXKE Fort Wayne, WIXO Peoria, WRMR Wilmington, XFM Nairobi, The Minnesota Timberwolves Radio Network, and more.  www.richvanslyke.com  770.962.4788  richvs@bellsouth.net


Andy’s Fiver Friday #136 Polyverse Music, Lago Di Garda And Imaging Goodness!

Benztown Imaging Blog - Fri, 06/01/2018 - 05:19

Another awesome week finished. Some Imaging goodness on Monday and a few great days at lago di garda. Italian radio – wow, what a pace in talk;)..

1. PlugIn

Polyverse Music came up with a plugin that creates the illusion of an expanded stereo image for huge amounts of width. The best part? It’s free!! – Go check it out!


2. Inspiration

Beautiful countryside at lago di garda – these awesome Palazzos right at the sea: STUNNING!

3. Music

Some good vibes!

4. Web/Social/Whatever

NBA Finals are ON! Warriors take game one even though LeBron goes for 51 points straight. – Here’s a recap for those who missed it: NBA Finals Game 1

5. Imaging

Almost one month has passed since the iron imager took place in LA, California – therefore let’s shed the light on this years winner one more time: Sam Wickens!

Becoming the Iron Imager, bringing the belt back home to London and the LA experience!


Andy’s Fiver Friday #135 – UPDATE of my favorite PlugIN, the best 5 Sound Design Youtube Channels and Ziggy Marley

Benztown Imaging Blog - Fri, 05/25/2018 - 07:46

Boom, another week is gone and with a bang. Since yesterday Izotope released the new version of Vocal Synth and from glancing at it briefly, it is a fantastic upgrade worth buying. So many new cool feature and I also think they improved the code behind the sound, so much clearer and precise now. More awesome stuff….ENTER!


1. PlugIn

iZotope delivers once again with an outstanding update to one of our favorite vocal plugins – go check it out! TRY MIDI mode!!!!

Vocalsynth 2

2. Inspiration

A great compendium of quality sound design, tutorials included!

5 sound design-focused YouTube channels worth following

3. Music

Some Summer Feeling with Ziggy!

4. Web/Social/Whatever

What do you think?

Jacobs Media Techsurvey 2018: Radio still strong, podcasts and smart speakers grow

5. Imaging

Our boy Dom Evans created second version of his promo without VO, so you guys can check out what he is doing music and fx wise! Nice work!


Andy’s Fiver Friday #134 – The Royal Wedding, Header Challenge and GOOGLE Assitant

Benztown Imaging Blog - Fri, 05/18/2018 - 02:07

nboilSo, we are back on track. Here is your weekly dose of FIVER.  Check the benz Royal Wedding Composite, whats going in the world of Text to Speech next level  and of course did I mention the Royal Wedding…


1. PlugIn

The godfather of Synths will be back as a plugIN. The legendary 808 – by Roland. 

Roland announces the first-ever official software TR-808


2. Inspiration

I cant Tell how amazed I am by this new technology lately introduced by Google.

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Google Assistant makes calls

Google Assistant will be able to make actual phone calls for you.

Posted by Circuit Breaker on Tuesday, May 8, 2018

3. Music
A bit Rock for this week – Still an awesome track:

4. Web/Social/Whatever
As a soccer fan this was the best video in the last week.
Check out the HEADER Challenge

5. Imaging
Nothing sweeter than finding the right Hashtag for the royal wedding. A small compilation from yours truly – the benz imaging team!


Andy’s Fiver Friday #133 – Izotope deals,Iron Imager recap and True Stories

Benztown Imaging Blog - Mon, 05/14/2018 - 07:58

Sorry, sorry, sorry – due to the Iron Imager Insanity last week I skipped one edition of your beloved Fiver Friday :)..Why? I feel Sam, our new Iron Imager deserved all the attention in the world as well as Brad. Both guys pulled a fantastic promo in one hour and I am incredibly proud of them. So, this week I am digging into some nice new stuff for you this Monday and back to normal on Friday


Becoming the Iron Imager, bringing the belt back home to London and the LA experience!

Benztown Imaging Blog - Tue, 05/08/2018 - 03:09

Guys, this was a death match :)…I never felt the decision has been so close. Brad and Sam created an Imaging firework within an hour with predefined elements they did not know – right that is the concept of Iron Imager, but it is incredibly complicated. After Sam got back to London in one piece after celebrating his title with Brad and the benz crew I took the chance to pick his brain about learnings, the LA experience and what might already have changed for him.

Sam, Congrats!!! Mate, I cant be happier as your story is kind of a modern fary tail.
Why, I just insert the FB post from Ash, so everyone understands Sam’s story a bit better.

After proving himself worthy of a fulltime job – today, he’s the winner of the Benztown Branding Iron Imager.

Enter Sam

1. How do you feel winning the title iron Imager and bringing the belt back to the UK?

It’s something that is still sinking in – I still can’t believe I made the shortlist let alone the final. It’s incredible to get recognition from my peers in the industry who I have so much respect for, people who have been doing this for a very long time and are incredibly talented. Brad is one of those guys who I look up to and it’s great to compete against someone with so much talent – it pushed me that bit further.

2. How did the actual contest feel? How was it?

My heart was racing and I was very nervous. For the first few minutes, it didn’t feel real – I almost forgot how to use ProTools with all the nerves! As time went by, the creative ideas started to kick in and everything started to flow. As Ashey Bard said to me: “You make promos every single day, so go make another one.” That was good advice – I treated it like any promo I would make at work, gave it my all and tried to be as creative as possible in sixty minutes whilst paying attention to all the little details.

3. What has been the biggest challenge during the competition?

The biggest challenge by far was having the composure to keep going when I felt like things weren’t working. There were so many directions I could have taken the promo – with a huge amount of options given to me in the work parts. At one point I looked over to Brad who was moving so fast and I thought ‘Man, I’ve got no chance’ but I just kept going and tried to just pretend I was back at work making another promo like I do every day. Using a smaller screen was also a challenge, as I’m used to working on a iMac.

4. LA? WWRS ? BENZ crew? Could you describe your experience altogether?

LA is a great place – I loved every minute of it from Hollywood to Venice Beach. I barely scratched the surface as it’s such a huge city, I’m excited to go back next year and see more. WWRS was a great networking opportunity for me, I met some great people from the industry and learned a lot from areas of the business that I usually wouldn’t have as much involvement in at work. The Benztown crew are a great bunch of guys and gals, I loved spending time with them and I’m so thankful for their hospitality and showing me a great time. I can’t wait to do it all again next year with the brigade.

5. What did you learn and what areas you need to focus improving defending the title next year?

I’ve learned that sixty minutes isn’t a lot of time! I know now what sort of tools Benztown can provide me with and what to expect next year in terms of content. I’m hoping that if I continue developing as I am then I’ll be someone hard to beat next year, plus I plan on using a newer laptop – so that will help.

6. Anything you want to tell Brad ?

Brad and I spent a lot of time together whilst in LA. Probably an abnormal amount of time considering we were competing against each other! He’s a good lad and we had a lot of laughs and good times together in the week we were there. See you in oz this summer mate!

7. Who would be a great contender next year?

Anyone! If you’re passionate and love imaging then enter! I never thought in my wildest dreams that I’d come this far in this competition and if you believe you’re good enough then that’s already half the battle over with. Me getting this far really is a testament to Capital and the team that taught me everything I know. If one of the boys from the team ending up being in the final, that would be incredible.


And The Winner Is…

Benztown Imaging Blog - Fri, 05/04/2018 - 16:24

Capital FM London’s Sam Wickens!!!!!

You come at the King… you best not miss…  

For the third straight year; the challenger has not missed. 

In what can only be described as “Sweet Revenge” (our words not his) for the most recent Ashes, London’s Sam Wickens is taking home the coveted Benztown Iron Imager belt by defeating last year’s winner, Melbourne Australia’s Brad Leask.

Click HERE to check out our Facebook page and watch videos of the winner’s announcement, videos of the two Imaging Idols going head to head, and also our camera crew’s defiant use of vertical video.

Take a listen to Sam’s winning entry:

We want to thank everyone for voting and being a part of the greatest event in Radio Imaging.  We hope you all enter next year, but judging from the below picture of the champ and his belt, you’re going to have to take it… from the King.



IRON IMAGER VII: Readers Vote!

Benztown Imaging Blog - Thu, 05/03/2018 - 10:48

Benztown fans… We hope you enjoyed today’s live stream from WWRS hosted by R.Dub. Check out Benztown on Facebook if you missed it. Thanks again for being a part of this year’s Iron Imager contest. The winner will be announced tomorrow (5/4) at 10:30am PT following the Iron Imager pow-wow at the top of the spiral staircase @ the W Hollywood.

Before you vote for your favorite… Did someone say something about a hype video?!


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Andy’s Fiver Friday #132 – PlugIN Subscriptions, an Imaging guy capturing NYC on Photos and what I listen do while doing deep work!

Benztown Imaging Blog - Fri, 04/27/2018 - 07:04

1. PlugIn

Different than usual…I really want to chat about what is going to be the model to buy/licence plugINs – subscriptions! Slate was the first doing it, now McDSP and others go for it as well. How do you feel about this? I am kind of in an in between state, so I would be really interested in how you see this!

2. Inspiration

For those who love photography on another level, done by an Imaging GUY :)…Ron does an unbelievable job on capturing NYC . Check his INSTA!


I have a few favorites for my living room!!!! 

3. Music

That is what I use for phases of deep work. Helps me to focus!


4. Web/Social/Whatever

Our new benztownbranding.com! Needed for ever to get done, but now I am really proud what the team has accomplished and how many great new functionality we could integrate without loosing the benztown vibe, look and feel. 

5. Imaging

Another Killer Composite from one of the hottest producers in Europe. Steph Jansen!


Iron Imager Round Table – The new tools of the champions, strategies to win and what do Paul Duffy, Dan Kelly, Sidey and Brad have in common?

Benztown Imaging Blog - Tue, 04/24/2018 - 07:52

WOW.. So many Iron Imagers in one post… The champs from 2012 till today. The World’s Best Imagers are back in the spot light!!! These guys all have one thing in common: They took on and WON THEIR IRON IMAGER BATTLE!!! Thanks for taking the time to answer all of my questions… Hope to see you at WWRS 2018 where reigning champ Brad is ready to defend his title against Contender Sam from Capital FM London!

Paul Duffy – Iron Imager I 2012, Today FM (Ireland)
Dan Kelly – Iron Imager II, III, IV 2013/14/15, WPLJ (New York)
Sideshow Mike Anderson – Iron Imager V 2016, Triple M (Sydney)
Brad Leask – Iron Imager VI 2017, Nova Entertainment (Melbourne)


Paul Duffy: 
It was a great feeling – certainly something I want to experience again. Its nice to be acknowledged by your peers and guys that you really admire in the imaging world. 

Soundcloud profile:    

Dan Kelly:
Winning Iron Imager was an awesome experience. All 3 times! Mainly because it lets us guys – who are generally locked away in dark soundproof rooms – get noticed a little and have a bit of fun. Ok,  stressful fun, but fun. To get the chance to a) hang out with the killer Benztown crew and b) meet the challengers and hang out with them on and off for a couple days – was lots of fun and just not something we get to do often. Fun to have something for people to talk about with imaging. Everybody knows how important imaging is to radio stations, but there’s never been an event quite like this to spotlight the craft, so I think it’s great!                                 

Mike Anderson:
It was awesome. Such a great opportunity to get over to LA and meet loads of creative imaging people. Made so many contacts and go to chat to the legends of the industry.

Soundcloud profile:

Link to website:


Brad Leask: 
Excited, humbled, such a surreal feeling – it’s a tough one to explain.

Soundcloud profile:


Paul Duffy: 
Honestly , I don’t think I had one , I was just so happy to even been in the final in LA. I mean , I rocked up with Adobe Audition 3 on a crappy laptop. Now, I’d only ever be on Pro Tools (Thank You Dan Kelly)                          

Dan Kelly:   
My strategy? HURRY. That’s about it. Just try and take the elements you’re given, quickly come up with some kind of creative thoughts about the production and what you might include, how you might do it – and just hurry the hell up. The last thing I wanted to do was be half done and see the clock had 2 minutes left. Yikes. Usually we’re not working on a deadline like that at our jobs, so it’s not the way we want to work usually of course, but hey – desperate times call for desperate measures. Not much time for experimenting. And hey, at least we didn’t have to look for elements. Having a pretty small batch of stuff to choose from kept it a little simpler. So just hurry and hope for a little dumb luck with things like drops hitting beats or just magically fitting perfectly… that kind of thing.

Mike Anderson:
Just do my own thing. Forget about what everyone else does. Just battle myself.

Brad Leask:
No strategy – Just have fun. My strategy this year though? Go to bed a little earlier the night before hahaha (remember that night Sidey?)


Paul Duffy:       
An incredibly fun experience with very friendly guys, lots of lovely food… very good looking people (Yes Benztown, I mean you guys!!!) What I learnt? That I sweat in LA… a lot. Especially in those 60 minutes of the contest.                     

Dan Kelly: 
The overall Iron Imager experience was great! Hanging around the convention a bit, seeing some people I haven’t seen in a while, spending more time with the Benztown guys and gals… The luncheon and awards… Everything was a ton of fun. My original thought was that we’d be on stage for the hour, producing while everybody watched… with commentary about what we were doing. Maybe it’s good and bad it’s not that way. Hah. That would’ve been even more stressful… and harder to concentrate. It’s great to meet some of the radio legends hanging around the convention and other imaging brethren. Like the KILLER Jeff Thomas, Jake Kaplan, Jeff Schmidt and a bunch of other guys I can’t think of at the moment! Just really fun to see imaging guys in the spotlight and getting to have a little fun is/was really awesome. I’d say I learned that all the people at the convention know the importance of imaging, appreciate it and us, and were pumped to see the competition. I wasn’t surprised at all to see that Paul Duffy, Brady Goodman and Sidey were all great dudes… who go through all the same stuff I do. Also that more people use Audition than I think… and of course can do great work with it.                                

Mike Anderson:
It was excellent. Highly recommend it for anyone. I learnt that I can do more than I thought under pressure in 60 minutes.

Brad Leask:
Fun! And I learnt how to build a promo in an hour haha.


Paul Duffy:       
Definitely the 60 minutes of the contest… Juggling all the elements of creating a piece that’s of winning standard and PRAYING that my laptop won’t crash!!                   

Dan Kelly:
Most challenging – Not knowing the format. It would be nice to have an idea in your head about what you’re going to do and how it should sound. But both challengers face the same thing and you just have to deal with it. Thankfully, I’ve produced for many different formats over the years, so it wasn’t that big a deal to produce a different style than I’m used to. If anything, that makes it more interesting. Doing something outside the constraints of what you do every day is a lot of fun.                 

Mike Anderson:
Most challenging part was hanging out with Brad Leask and watching him pull so many chicks. He’s a machine.

Brad Leask:
The ticking clock, people watching… being streamed live around the world – a little different to my usual studio surrounds.



Dan Kelly:
The best? Hard to choose, but the playing of our audio and announcing of the winners at the luncheon was great. It’s stressful too, but to have your audio played for all those radio people… and to see their reactions is pretty rewarding. They know what the contest is, even if they weren’t there to see you do it, they appreciate the work involved, know the challenge… and then to hear your name announced… is really special. It’s just a fun contest… and I’m well aware it doesn’t make the winner “the best in the world” at all…. But hey after 20+ years in the business, getting recognition like that is a great feeling. Before long, you’re back in your own studio, producing sweepers late at night, while you’re falling asleep at the computer… But to have those moments to look back on… pretty special stuff. And fun, win or lose really. One great time was a dinner we all had a Japanese place (I think) before everybody left the next day. Really had a great time hanging out with everybody and it just reminded me what a great group of people the Benztown crew are!

Mike Anderson:
Chilling out by the pool at the Roosevelt hotel with Jeff Schmidt and the Benztown crew having beers.

Brad Leask:
WWRS was amazing – Definitely the best part would have been meeting so many of my idols & other passionate radio people. After talking radio & imaging for 3 days, I left WWRS feeling so inspired to make great imaging.



Paul Duffy: 
The changeover in Atlanta…. Awh man… Killer!!!                          

Dan Kelly: 
Not to miss – Well if you’ve never been to LA before, there’s so much to do. But of course you need to experience sitting in 2 hours of traffic to go what would normally be 20 minutes. Good times! Ok besides that, I’d do a studio tour like Warner Brothers or Sony… Maybe get to the Griffith Observatory… amazing things to see, both on and off this planet! Also must get to Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles. Somehow my family wasn’t a big fan, which is really upsetting, but who cares what they think? It’s legendary! Of course, get to the Santa Monica pier. I could probably go on all day.

Mike Anderson:
Don’t miss the chance to get out there and introduce yourself to everyone. Shake hands, kiss babies, meet everyone. They’re all cool. Also have a drink at the bar at Sunset Marquis. I randomly met Kings of Leon one night.

Brad Leask:
So much to do, so little time. Burgers, sports, beaches, bars…..but most importantly, WWRS. So much passion & experience in one place. Soak it up!



Paul Duffy: 
Oh definitely CHR, Oh hell yeah – wizz.. bang.. zap… stop (echo)… Boom!                           

Dan Kelly: 
I definitely wouldn’t choose my 2 usual formats, which are Hot AC and Country. Anything outside of those, just to make it exciting. News/Talk or Alternative probably. News/Talk to be able to tell a story and use drops… do some fun stuff with the beds… and making the drops fit nicely in there in creative ways… and Alternative just because in theory it would be a more attitude filled version of my normal stuff, with songs I’m less familiar with. And conveniently, these were 2 of the 4 formats I got to do in the contest. We also did Classic Hip Hop and I think Country. Lots of fun!                     

Mike Anderson:
Der… Rock. Either that or Christian folk music.

Brad Leask:
Does ‘A Nova Promo’ count as a format? Haha. Any format, it’s the challenge & being in the deep-end that makes the Iron Imager experience so fun.


Paul Duffy: 
Would love to see my two boys, Nick K from Spin Dublin and Jonathan Young from Capital FM London. The two boys are insane with production and I love that I’m able to call them mates.                          

Dan Kelly: 
Wow. Y’know for me, personally, growing up in NYC, I would’ve loved to see Dave Foxx vs Gene Wooten. Z100 vs PLJ. Gene was the Creative Services Dir before me, from 1985 to 2002 – and his work was incredible. His work and Foxx’s were my inspiration. I loved listening to their work. And I’ve gotten to know Foxx from a long time back now… He’d be great. Sadly, Gene passed away recently from an illness, but I need to shout out to him for his incredible talents and work over the years. What an amazingly talented guy. And of course, Foxx… So, so good. For me, that would’ve been a dream matchup. They’ve taught me so much. I can’t begin to imagine what they would’ve done in the contest, but I’m sure it would’ve been mind-blowing.                                

Mike Anderson:
I’d like to see John Frost take on Jeff Thomas in a battle to the death. the ultimate 90s grudge match.

Brad Leask:
Whoever deserves it! Can’t wait to see who makes it through.


Andy’s Fiver Friday #131 – Black Hole, Joe Gebbia and a new Front End!

Benztown Imaging Blog - Fri, 04/20/2018 - 07:47

What a week, we launched a new Front End , we have the new CONTENDER for Iron Imager at WWRS – Sam Wickens from Capital and of course it is Friday. FIVER FRIDAY!


1. PlugIn

Awesome discount from Eventide – one of my favorite Reverbs – get it!


2. Inspiration

There is so many great people out there, but this guys is one of the most inspiring human beings out there in the world of StartUP.  A service that I love a guy who rocks – Joe Gebbia.

Check his episode on the Tim Ferris Podcast. Inspiring as hell. 

3. Music

The Magic Gang – some joyous hooks and old school going on here!


See where original content can get you! Crazy! 

Netflix nears a $150B market cap as its subscribers continue to balloon – TechCrunch

5. Imaging

A colleague of our Iron Imager Contender Sam – Check Dan’s latest composite!!!


Iron Imager VII: Meet the CONTENDER – Enter Sam Wickens!

Benztown Imaging Blog - Thu, 04/19/2018 - 07:03

It is official, here is the Contender! Guys, I am so proud to present one of the best guys out there taking it up against the champ Brad from last year’s Iron Imager. Brad vs. Sam. Aussie vs. Brit. Nova vs. Capital… Two highly talented youngsters from two leading CHR brands (Nova 100 & Capital FM) fighting for the title ‘World’s Best Imager’. They both sure can throw a punch! It will be a massive battle!!!

First off the Contender Basics:

Name: Sam Wickens
Age: 26
From: Hornchurch, Essex (Greater London)
Profession: Audio Production Assistant for Capital FM since January 2017












Check out what Sam has to say about Brad, his strategy to win and his secret advantage.

How do you feel?

I can’t believe that I have the honor of being a finalist at Iron Imager 2018. It’s great to know that I’ll be part of this amazing event. I’m a product of the Capital Imaging team from the very core – I started as an intern in October 2016 and learned the ropes of imaging from the best in the business. The whole team have contributed to me getting to this point; from everything I’ve learned from them on day one to now. I’m grateful.

Have you been to LA / California / the US before? Are you excited to visit?

I’ve never been to LA/California. Like most English people, I’ve been to Disneyland in Orlando, Florida a number of times. I also lived in Milwaukee, WI for a couple of years studying when I was eighteen – so I’ve experienced the heat and the cold that America has to offer. I’m so excited to visit LA and get a taste of the West Coast – I can’t wait to get out there and have the chance to show what I can do.

Of course you know Brad – what’s your strategy against one of the best Imagers out there? How do you want to win this battle?

Yes – I’ve met Brad whilst visiting in Melbourne last year and he was kind enough to give me a tour of Nova. We shared a pint or two and he’s a great guy. It will be interesting going up against him. I know he’s a beast on the buttons and got years of experience.
My strategy would be to stay true to everything I’ve learned in my year and half in radio imaging – produce something to the high standard that Capital have taught me to deliver.

How difficult will it be to work off a portable workstation vs. your fully equipped studio? What’s your setup?

I don’t have a studio at work, as I work in headphones at my desk out in the office – so it’s where I’m most comfortable doing imaging day-to-day. I’m used to plenty of people in the office making noise that might interfere with my mix or celebrity guests walking by to distract me. It’s probably a fitting environment for me to work in if the final of Iron Imager brings similar conditions.
I’m also used to using ProTools on my MacBook as I did it for over two years whilst studying audio production at university. So I’m comfortable with a small screen and more importantly, less ram! All I need is a pair of headphones, my mouse and my iLok. Plus my HD full of sound design, beds, drops etc.

What are your favorite PlugIns right now? New findings? 

Valhalla do some great reverbs that are simple to use but are lovely on the ears – plus they’re quite cheap.

Effectrix is a PlugIn that is sometimes my ‘get out of jail’ card if I’m stuck for inspiration or looking for a new way to make something work. It’s a great PlugIn to create something from nothing and bring a bed to life to give it some personality.

I also love to see what I can do with what I have. I’m a big fan of SoundToys and everything they have. EchoBoy, Little Plate, Phase Mistress and Little Alter Boy are personal favorites. There are some great presets that work as a good platform to build something unique from. A lot of guys on the team have built channels on our template that use SoundToys and they sound incredible.

Little Plate











Filter Gate




What techniques do you use most often these days?

It depends on the project. If I want a stand out moment in a branded intro, then I’ll do some tuning and create an inverted chord so that root note really pokes through the mix. I’m a big fan of keeping it simple and not using a technique or effect too much in one piece of production.

For a promo, I do a lot of work around the bed. It needs to stay interesting for a long amount of time so I use a lot of modulation and harmonic plugins to create tension and build. Which ones? Well, I can’t give out all our secrets…














VO Channels







Sponsor Tag Design











Anything you want to tell Brad?

I can’t wait for a beer and a battle! Hopefully I’ll be bringing the Iron Imager belt back to where it belongs; Britain! 


IRON IMAGER 2018 – Here is the CONTENDER, Sam Wickens from Capital and the Honorable Mentions… Enter a different FIVER FRIDAY!

Benztown Imaging Blog - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 06:44

WOW! Iron Imager 2018 is running for the 7th time and I know I keep repeating this, but the stack of candidates just gets better and better… It’s insane, so much good stuff – the most difficult decision process ever! That’s why this week’s the perfect excuse for your typical Fiver Friday post. 

I want to say A MASSIVE THANK YOU to everyone for your super awesome imaging submissions!!! Whilst buckling up for the Iron Imager contest at the 2018 Worldwide Radio Summit on May 3rd our team decided to honor the runners-up and a few submissions that stood out. Fantastic Stuff!

Check the official Contender press release here: https://www.benztown.com/news/sam-wickens-iron-imager-7-contender

Now, lets dive into it! Enter Sam, BT, Jonathan Young, Jordana Klein, Ryan Drean, Chris Longman and Sergey Zelentsov…









Andy’s Fiver Friday #130 – Catch You at NAB, Iron Imager and Pitch to Rich with Richard Branson!

Benztown Imaging Blog - Fri, 04/06/2018 - 08:50

Drop by our Benztown boys and girls Chachi, Chris, Nadine and Kevin at the ENCO booth N3824 in the North hall & Central Lobby of the NAB Show!

We are thrilled by the awesome content created with the help of our libraries and fantastic VO talents!!! A huge personal thank you for submitting your super creative Imaging to us and for making the Iron Imager VII contest outstanding!!! HOLD YOUR HORSES!

1. PlugIn

Tonal Balance Control – interconnection with Ozone 8 and Neutron 2 explained in some more detail! 

  2. Inspiration

Grammy Award winning LA-based production talent Focus… from NYC and recognized by the legendary Dr. Dre shows us how to shape those bass lines – well taught! 

  3. Music 

VVAVES, Canadian artist based in Germany, released her new single ALIVE! Sublime and serene sounding with light vocal tones and electronic textures!!


4. Web/Social/Whatever 

For you guys that don’t want to be in radio – Grab the opportunity to pitch your mobile-related business idea to Sir Richard Branson, one of the most INSPIRING Brits..


PO, the Head of Imaging for Skyrock – Meet an Imaging Veteran!

Benztown Imaging Blog - Tue, 04/03/2018 - 07:29

When I was in France for Le Radio lately I had the luck to meet the legendary PO, the creative mastermind behind the most successful French Urban Radio Station – SKYROCK! PO is a veteran of the Imaging world, who started his career as a DJ in 1982. His station count and personal track record is impressive and I am more than happy to share his thoughts about Imaging, Composing and Voice Over Work with you.

Check his short bio and then into the nitty gritty!


1982 to 1987: DJ (but don’t tell his mum!!)
1984 to 1987: Animator on different local and regional radios
1987 to 1989: Reporter at RFI, Journalist & Animator at FM Adventure
1989 to 1990: Animator at Maxximum
1990 to 1992: Animator & Producer at Fun Radio
1992: Producer and Author at NRJ
1993 to 1996: Director of Production and Author at Fun Radio
1996 to present: Director of Production and Composer Author at Skyrock
1998 to today: Composer and Arranger

1. How is it to work for a legendary station like Skyrock?

Cool, motivating and exciting at the same time, because you have to constantly renew yourself and reinvent everything.
Becoming, being and staying the Number One cannot be improvised. It’s a daily competition and everything starts in your head!

2. What DAW do you use and why?
A sheet of paper and a pen for ideas. My old Roland FP3 piano and my worn guitars to search for melodies and gimmicks. Logic Pro X for music composition and sound search. Pro Tools 10 for editing the mix and mastering.
3. Who is your favorite VO talent?
Emmanuel Garijo aka Manu (VO Skyrock since 1997) Alain Dorval (VO Skyrock from 1986 to 1997) Emmanuel Curtil (VO Fun Radio from 1993 to 1996, it continued after but I can’t remember the date) Richard Darbois (VO NRJ since 1994) Claude Giraud (French voice of Tommy Lee Jones) Greg Germain (French voice of Will Smith) Claude Bertrand (French voice among others by Roger Moore or O’Malley in the Aristocats)
4. What are your favorite PlugIns?
Waves, Sonnox, Focusrite, and Brainworx are great tools whose licenses are unfortunately exorbitant. Otherwise, I use native PlugIns and / or free DAWs that offer equivalent opportunities when you bother! It’s neither the size nor the ball that made the football player Pelé (see Wikipedia for you young people!). 

5. How do you get creative? What are your inspirations? Ressources?
I think that creativity is not acquired, it is probably innate, yet it feeds and maintains itself. The FCC blocks the broadcast of US radio in Europe. So I rely on my friends to share my favorite stations KROQ, KPWR, KOME, WHTZ, WQHT… Europe and the rest of the world do not have this constraint and we can listen to everything without limit (England, Germany, Russia, Italy, Spain & Japan).
6. What does a typical day at the station look like? 

                                A lot of sound, sound, and even more sound!
7. Who or what influenced you? What was the most important thing you learned from your mentors?
Radio, the great voices of radio, the beginning of the so-called private radio in France with the opening of the FM band in the 80s – The digital shift in the 90s – Total dematerialization in the 2000s – Radio on IP over the years 2010.   I wasn’t even 20 when Skyrock launched, but I remember being blown away by everything the station was revolutionizing. The station’s sound was deep, spatial and incredibly broad. We had never heard anything like it before. Our sound effectively made us the predecessor of today’s multi-band (big-up Vincent and Ritchie), spoken imaging that told a story and sounded like a movie trailer (total ovation for Pierre, Laurent, Alain, Smicky, Baudu and Dimitri) … I couldn’t imagine that one day I would join this incredible team and that they would, in addition, hand over the keys of production to me! I am today the most broadcasted artist on-air since my jingles can be heard every 4 minutes on average. I joined them on their 10th birthday and never left, it’s my professional fairy tale!   I basically learned from my predecessors and my peers, from their values, their professionalism, rigor, responsiveness and ethics: “MAKE YOUR LIFE A DREAM, AND A DREAM A REALITY” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
8. What’s the difference between Imaging in France and the US? Elsewhere?
The language above all else. The local, regional and /or national configuration of radios in France and of course the ressources that are recognized and attributed to our radios.
9. Any key advice for the youngsters out there?
Make yourself curious about everything, both form and substance, because every detail counts. Working in a production unit is like working in a kitchen at a big restaurant. It is served at any time and everything that is served effects the reputation of the establishment, as well as the fame of the cooks!  

Andy’s Fiver Friday #129 – HAPPY EASTER with Ozone 8 and C&A!

Benztown Imaging Blog - Fri, 03/30/2018 - 09:00

 LAST CALL for Iron Imager and HAPPY EASTER holiday weekend to y’all! 

1. PlugIn

Ozone 8 Advanced – this week we dug out the real MASTER for you guys. Bringing out the best of the mix with Dynamics and superb multi-band compression. See what we have to say about its new futuristic features here..



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