Voice-Tracking – What is it? How to get started

November 11, 2020 | Winston 

The problem with many radio internet stations is that they are playlist-heavy. There are no talk segments. 

If you don't have the time to create live shows, you can still make your shows sound live through voice tracking.

It creates the effect that the presenter is in the studio and that the show is live on-air. 

When done precisely, users can not tell the difference. 

Voice tracking technology has been utilized for many years now. Some of your favorite shows may have been voice-tracked but you never knew!

Sneaky? Yes. But we believe it could be a game changer for your internet radio station. By voice tracking, your station will be better than thousands of stations on the web that only choose to play endless playlists without any voiced segments. 

Straightaway, let's get started!

PART 1: The Basics of Voice Tracking


The essence of voice tracking is inserting voice links between playlist items in a predefined playlist.

It's possible to spend one hour creating voice tracks that run for up to 6 hours! 

It's the best use for your time, really. 

Different radio automation programs offer voice tracking features. (see chapter 3 for a list of compatible programs).

But you may as well use another recording program to record your voice tracks for instance Audacity.

What is the history of voice tracking?

Voice tracking history

Voice tracking is held to have originated in the 1970s. Recordings were made on magnetic tape and cartridges and mechanical playback systems would play back the recordings. 

Do you know that voice tracking is also called cyber jocking or robojocking? So, how did it originate?

 The motivation that led radio stations to begin voice tracking was due to its cost effective nature. Rather than having a DJ in studio for 6 hours straight accumulating an hourly wage, stations discovered that it would be much affordable to have the presenter in the studio for a few hours creating content for the music breaks.

 You can also picture a radio network with multiple stations and a limited number of staff. One presenter could potentially create programming for multiple stations by using a few hours of their time to record talk segments for multiple shows. 

 Computers only made this process easier, cheaper, and faster!

 You now have all the tools to create playlists, record voice tracks, and perform complex scheduling even months or weeks in advance. 


Simple rules for creating the best radio voice tracks

Creating good radio voice tracks is all about capturing high quality vocals. Or is it?

Well, voice tracks need to have great content!

You can’t undertake the process of creating music breaks without at least planning what the show will be about.

Since you're creating voice tracks for a radio music show, it's also essential to select songs based on a theme. Avoid having a bunch of randomly selected songs. 

So this brings us to our first rule and second second for creating radio music breaks with voice tracks:

#Rule 1: Plan your music show around a topic or theme

What is the general direction of the music show? Which artists do you want to feature? Is your music radio show based on a specific theme or feel? 

Radio music shows are more entertaining when you put time into the planning process and creatively select songs. 

For instance, you may choose to feature recently released music that’s only a month or less old? You can do a love special featuring sensual jams for valentines.

Ideally, as you plan your music show, try to also experience it in your mind. 


#Rule 2: Determine the voice track placements

How long should your voice links or music breaks be? 

It's ideal to keep the music breaks brief and short, for instance, under 30 seconds. 

Long music breaks that are not funny or entertaining may cause the listener to switch to another radio station. 

Think of striking a balance between very short music breaks and longer voice links. 

For instance, at the half-hour break, you may  have a longer talk segment featuring the latest celebrity news. 

If you're recording a Top 40 show, you can have longer breaks when transitioning from top 30 songs to top 20 songs. The number 1 song can also have a longer intro.

#Rule 3: Prepare a script

Don’t wing it! If you're preparing a music radio show for the first time, it will take every creative bone in your body to come up with interesting talk segments. 

The solution is to prepare a script. Don't worry if this sounds tedious. 

It will help you avoid uncomfortable pauses in your presentation. Scripts also make your radio show sound more professional. 

After preparing your fair share of scripts, knowing the right thing to say at the right moment will become more natural.

#Rule 4: Record the best audio that’s free from noise

Some of the badly produced podcasts we have encountered were terribly difficult to listen to because of their terrible audio. 

Don’t make the same mistake with your music breaks. 

You’ll need your voice tracks to sound crisp and professional. The choice of the microphone is important. When you’re out of options, find a way to use the mic on your smartphone rather than a laptop mic. 

Download apps that allow you to use the smartphone’s mic on your computer. 

 Also, record in an ideal environment that’s quiet, free from echos and outside noises.


Should I use robot voices to creating voice links? 

Avoid robo voices, please.

In the future, radio broadcasting software may popularize the ability to create voice tracks with automated voices. 

Some programs already have features that allow you to generate temperature or weather announcements using comp-generated voices.

Need examples? Check out NextKast, for instance.

So, in the future, we may have robot voices handling the majority of the voice linking between songs. 

Currently, you can tell a robot voice from a real human voice. That's why we are currently advising against robo voices. 

Use your natural voice, regardless of how terrible it may sound. Listeners will appreciate your energy and enthusiasm more. 


Part 2: Voice-Tracking for Radio with Audacity (Example)


We got our hands dirty in the publishing of this article, and actually implemented some of the tips shared in the guide. 

Now, most radio automation programs have voice tracking features. But we found that using Audacity, a free audio recording tool with very advanced features, streamlined our workflow. 

And it could have the same benefits for you. If you want to try Audacity, you can find it here. 

The disadvantage of using a third-party tool is that you will have a lot of inserting and exporting to do. But was it worth it? 

Yes, considering the professional results were able to achieve. Here the steps we undertook.

Step 1: Create a new playlist

The exercise took place using RadioDJ version 2, which is a free radio automation program used by thousands of internet broadcasters.

If you’re using another program, just ensure that it can allow you to create a playlist.

Playlist builder -Radio DJ

Step 2: Launch Audacity and record your show intro

Audacity is dead simple to use. 

Launch it and select your recording device and playback device. Collect yourself and get your radio script ready.

Click the record button, and as a recommendation, don't speak right away. Pause for up to 10 seconds so the microphone can pick up any background noise.

Audacity recording the voice track

This will create the noise profile that you can use to determine the amount of background noise. 

After recording your voice track, you can use the powerful editing capabilities of Audacity, for instance, you can cut out the mistakes. 

So when you're recording, you don't have to stop talking. Just leave the audio cues, for instance, if you make a mistake say "remove this part" and continue speaking.

Audacity Removing the silent parts


Step 3: Export your ready voice track

Give your voice track an appropriate name. For easier reference, make its title more descriptive. Audacity allows you to add details such as the Artist name. 

For instance, we labeled the first voice recording as "1. Radio show intro" and the artist's name was “Voice-track.”

Exporting the audio

Step 4: Record more music breaks and add more items to the log

Continue building your playlist. You don't have to add voice links after each song. Most commercial radios tend to have music breaks after 3 to 4 songs.

Spacing breaks further apart may allow you to create fewer voice links and save a huge chunk of time. 

Voice tracking example

Step 5: Advanced segue editing

Most radio automation software will allow you to edit the segue points to create tighter transitions. You can also take advantage of this feature to add a music bed to the voice recording or duck the volume and overlay the voice track.

Editing segue points

Step 6. Schedule your radio show

After creating your show, it's time to schedule it. 

The scheduling capabilities of your radio automation program will determine the results you get. 

 Scheduling in RadioDJ is straightforward. We created an event for the playlist to be loaded at a set time, and added a playback event to ensure it got played. 

Upcoming radio event

The end results were amazing. And they will be amazing for your listeners. 

Which Radio Broadcasting Software Have Voice Tracking?  

If you need a radio automation software with voice tracking, try out these recommendations: 

  • ProppFrexx ONAIR 
  • SAM Broadcaster
  • RadioBOSS
  • NextKast Pro
  • PlayIt Live - The program is free but you need to pay for the voice track plug-in.
  • PlayoutONE
  • mAirList
  • StationPlaylist Studio Pro

PART 3: Reasons to Use Voice Tracking in Web Radio 


Voice tracking has many benefits. 

Even if you currently host live shows, voice tracking can help too!

It's not a time saving saving technique reserved for the people who have better things to do. 

So, here are the benefits of voice-tracking for your internet radio station.

a) Gives you flexibility

If you're understaffed, voice tracking can earn you some free time to carry out other tasks. 

The 3 hours you spend DJing a live show could be shortened to 30 minutes. Use the extra time to improve the programming. 

b) Allows for unattend broadcasting when you're away

Take for instance that on Saturday you'll be engaged in other activities, but you have a bit of time on Friday. 

You can record your voice tracks and build your program log. Most radio automation programs have a basic scheduling feature. 

You can even schedule shows months or weeks in advance. 

c) Stretch your capabilites across multiple stations

Do you operate multiple radio stations? 

You can stretch your capabilities across the said radio stations by voice tracking. It’s easier to also have volunteers creating the programming for your community or college radio show.

They can work at their own schedule. 

d) Local radio stations can hire out-of-town talent

Think about it...

Voice tracking may allow you to record your voice track from anywhere in the world. With the internet, you can send this audio to your broadcasting software. 

(Well, many radio automation software have also moved online as subscription-based services).

Local radio stations can, therefore, hire someone who's thousands of miles away. With a few basic facts about the events around the community, they can create a show as if they are in the studio.

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