A song fade is an instrumental outro to a song as it ends, and a song ramp is an instrumental intro to a song before the lyrics begin. Ramps and fades are a perfect opportunity to transition between songs and elements. This keeps your presence throughout your show and offers a quick way to communicate information to your listeners.
- Give a fact about the song or artist
- Make a pun
- Forward promote
- Tease upcoming bits
- Get creative
At the very least, it should be used to front or back identify the song.
NOTE: While your studio setup may vary, when giving facts about artists or songs, use your DJ readers and controls provided by the AFN broadcast centers for a quick communication information bit. Additionally, check with your local command to ensure you are using the most up-to-date policies and procedures, as the constant forward and back identifying of songs can sometimes be discouraged.
[Song fades out...] "That one could be the soundtrack to your Thursday. Feeling a little bad and bougie as we roll towards your weekend. It's DJ Duckman, and I've got a way for you to feel just A-OK, as it's intended to wake up to. Your morning refreshment headed to you after Logic and Marshmallow." [Next song fades in...]
We call this riding or walking the ramp and fade. In Flex, the amount of time you have to speak over the ramp or fade is displayed on the screen. The left side, by the field labeled Intro, represents the ramp time, and the right side, by the field labeled Outro, is the out cue. Songs might display:
- F for fade,
- LF for long fade,
- CF for cold fade,
- C for cold or no fade
- or a numeric digit representing the fade time.
NOTE: Your studio setup and audio board may vary from the information provided in this video. Check with your local command to ensure you use the most up-to-date and compliant equipment.
Ideally, you'll be able to speak over the entire ramp or fade. It takes practice! This is a good reason to ensure your songs are properly loaded into AVRPS.
NOTE: Walking the ramp right up to the lyrics is called "hitting the vocal" or "hitting the post." When done correctly, you find yourself timing talking breaks to hit the vocal consistently, enabling a seamless transition from the talk break to the singer.
PRO TIP: Check AVRPS Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for guidance.
While riding a ramp and fade, you want to have the song potted down, so it doesn't overpower your voice but can still be heard easily. Every song is different, so use your judgment.
NOTE: Walk the ramp with intention, as the listener needs to hear the ramp under your voice, so the song does not appear abruptly. Wear headphones as you pot up the slider to play the song at -10 and use the preview function to help judge the correct levels.
PRO TIP: Always wear your headphones so you can hear the audio levels.
Here's an example of riding a ramp. Be sure to look ahead to see how long you have to speak before the song plays, then watch the timer as you're riding the ramp, making sure not to step on the lyrics.
PRO TIP: Crossfade a ramp into a fade for a seamless transition!
EXAMPLE OF RIDING A RAMP
[Song ends...] "...Shape Trips and Tours. They got a trip to Paris coming up next weekend that you can get on. But that one, it was courtesy of the Chain Smokers, and it costs you absolutely nothing. You know what doesn't also cost you anything? Some hit songs going back to 1991, with this one. To be precise, it's Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and they're giving you some lessons, lessons on how to fly." [New song fades in and ramps up...]
Now, here's an example of riding a fade. Be sure to watch the timer and begin speaking when the lyrics end, or the music dips down, making sure your next element, whether it's a music bed or another song, is at the appropriate level to speak over. If it's a song, check to see if it has a ramp so you don't step on the lyrics. When this technique is well executed, listeners won't notice their audio transition until they're already listening to your voice.
EXAMPLE OF RIDING A FADE
[Song ending and fading out but playing in the background...] "Man, that song gets me every time. Midnight City taking you to the top of it with that one from M83. It's the Duckman here, and I want to take you back to 6 a.m. in a second. First though, how about something happening later on, 7:30 to be precise, you can swing on down to CYS. [ New songs starts and begins to fade in within the background... ] Over at their services center, they have got free mocha for you. Mocha Mondays, grades 6-12, get a hot cup of joe, hot and ready as it was intended." [Song ramps up...]
With practice, you'll become more familiar with the songs and when it's best to speak. Riding your ramps and fades makes for a tight professional radio product. It brings your presence into your show and demonstrates to your audience they're with you, not just a machine that can fire a song.
NOTE: Ramps and fades are also opportunities for local stations to provide their listeners with quick weather or traffic updates.
PRO TIP: More mic breaks = interaction with your audience!
This is how you can have a high number of mic breaks per hour, as elaborated in the Eagle playbook. It's okay to mess up when you first try to ride your ramps and fades. Practice makes perfect. In no time at all, it'll be second nature. Have a great show!