How to create outstanding production for 3 Major Markets and…

When you hear the audio demo of my australian mate Brendan Tacey, what do you think?

[soundcloud width=”100%” height=”81″ params=”secret_url=false” url=”″] MMM prod- BT by Benztown Branding Blog

Great production, right? What you need to know is, that Brendan Tacey creates Imaginging for 3  MMM stations in Australia (Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane) plus does a shipload of work for 4 digital formats or at least overseas the imaging, too. How does he handle all the business, stays creative, rocks the protools and still loves what he is doing? Read BTs answers to this questions, learn about his time scheduling routines and check out his favourite plugIN combos.

What is the secret of the unique sound created for MMM?

I don’t know if there is a secret as such. It more so the skills and techniques developed over the last 12 years of production. Most of that time has been working on ‘Top 40’ formats and being influenced by producers working on those formats too… Mainly Matt Nikolic from Fox FM Melbourne (“also one of the best imaging guys in the world, my opinion”- Andy of benztown).So I’ve always tried to emulate their sounds with the tools I had at the time. So iv been able to take the skills learned from hot style of production and now adapt it to the rock format of MMM. With MMM… we don’t muck around with the music when demonstrating it in production. We are all about ‘credibility’. So the fancy tricks in the production have to be tamed down and the Zips and Zaps pulled right back to ‘Enhance’ the production rather than be a feature in it. When I first walked into the MMM position… I also wanted to emulate the MMM sound being created by ‘Sideshow’ (“great imaging guy and creative mastermind” – Andy from benztown), MMM Sydney’s multi award winning producer, so while I certainly haven’t mastered it… I have been again able to adapt to a new style and add that to my existing skill set. An example of the techniques I’ve learned from Sidey, is creating your own ‘zips and zaps’ by using elements of music from both songs we do and don’t play on the station, and tricking those up to create punchy starts to promos and sweeps or transitions from one section of a promo to the next. Another example is having a lot of changes of music beds and ‘scenes’ to highlight each section of a script… but bring it together in a way that it doesn’t feel so busy that it takes away from the script. This can include dropping little sounds / voices in addition to the script just off centre and lower in volume so it creates on ‘offbeat’ feel in the flow of a promo.

What is the method in scheduling time in a busy market?

In my role, I produce for a number of markets… MMM Melbourne, MMM Brisbane, a portion of Mix94.5 Perth, and I produce / manage the production needs for all Austereos Digital Radio stations, which currently numbers 4 different brands (Radar, U20, Mainstage, Barry) and some of these can change to a while new station on a 3 to 6 month basis. So I have production requests coming in from more than 10 different people across all stations, and in all cases, none of those 10+ people know what is being sent thru by the others, so it really is up to me to manage all those expectations and make sure they all get what they need by the time they need it.

I have a excel doc set up in 4 columns (see example below) which are:



This week

Next week

So as soon as a request hits my e-mail, I put it on the spreadsheet under the column of when it’s required. Then at the end of each day, I move things around to set up the next day so I know what I need to be working on the second I walk into the studio at the start of each day. I get great pleasure in deleting each job off the spreadsheet. So in the highest pressure situations, (lets say its Thursday) and the 2 of the MMM’s need a new tactic to start on a Monday, and a package is required for a digital station, then my initial aim is to not deliver every element of all tactics or the package, but enough to get it started for the following week… then if time allows before the end of the week… I will knock out more / the rest…. Because I know the ‘Monday me’ will thank the ‘Friday me’ for knocking out all that work.  It is amazing though what you can achieve when you get on a roll and are motivated to complete all the work. It does create a fair bit of stress… but what motivates me is to get to a weekend and have a clean slate for the following week. To the point where my inbox has no more that half a dozen e-mails in it, and my spreadsheet is near empty.

That to me is a successful week.

BTs Whiteboard

What are the ways to make it sound fresh and creative every single time.

A lot of the ‘freshness’ comes from constantly updating my bank of music beds. Grabbing a bunch of CDs that come to the music director and listening thru them all to find beds and fx in the music is something I try and do once a month. These are a great source… cos most of it is the type of music we play on the station and therefore sits well in the production. That alone keeps things sounding fresh….The other thing for me is the ability to mix up the voices we use. I say ‘ability’ but I’m referring to ‘Budget’. We have the luxury of good voice budgets for our imaging in the Cap City markets… but in the smaller markets… its non existent so that can make it hard. But going back to the music beds… it feels like when I have a new batch of beds… my production comes together so much more easily. (Read my post about how important it is to have a great and well sorted archive – THE 3 best friends of an imaging legend)

What are your favourite plug ins?

Its not just one… but a combination of a couple. Overall.. I love the boost the C4 gives to everything. Outside that… its McDSP filterbank (F2) combined with Metaflanger, Enigma… any of those Modulation type units. The way I use them is on the voices…. When I have a clean copy of the voice, then duplicate that down to a couple of mono tracks (panned) process an f2 thin eq over that, then run one of the modulation units over that. Then I will off centre the 2 panned mono tracks to give it a stereo feel, then with volume adjustment… blend that back in with the original vo. And if the original vo is on a thinned eq track too… it creates a real nice sharp effected voice that pierces thru the mix.

Brendan’s background…

Early 90’s – Community Radio on air

Early/Mid to late 90’s – 3SR / Sun FM Shepparton – On air

1998/99 – Commercial Writing, Producing and on air – 3SR / SunFM

1999/2000 – Launched SeaFM / Mix16.3 Townsville – Image/Commercial prod & on air

2000 – Commercial Production SAFM Adelaide

2001 – Image production SAFM Adelaide

mid 2001 – 2004 – Image production 92.9 Perth

2004 – 2005 – Image production GWR Network Bristol U.K

2005 – 2009 – Image prod SAFM Adelaide & 92.9 Perth

2009 – Current – Network Prod Manager – Triple M –> Image production Triple M Melbourne / Brisbane  / Mix 94.5 Perth + Image Production all Austereo Digital brands

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