Dream job: complaining about parking to a captive audience

Commuter Carmen has the cushiest job in radio. She gets to complain, and she gets to do it twice a week! Of course, she has to say something nice about the place she’s complaining about before she starts going off. Sometimes I wonder how she can come up with the nice things to say. It is, after all, an advertisement (in the loosest sense). It must be tough, but I’m sure that getting to tell the world about crappy parking in the same breath makes it easier. Her ads are like mini-shows, airing several times a week directly after talk radio segments or blocks of totally 100% commercial free!!! music on channels that get… not very many listeners. She doesn’t have the biggest following – her ads are less than a minute long, but she’s a kindred, bad parking-hating spirit to me.

This week, one of the two schools she reviewed was our very own University of Mary Washington. I should have hung around the parking garage or the Pizza Hut (my preferred parking areas) to try and get her autograph, but that would have been creepy. Here’s her ad!

I knew as soon as I saw the Cheesy Radio Ad assignment that I wanted to do it – it was just a matter of coming up with a character and script. At first I thought I would do something like “do YOU like (x thing)? do YOU like (y thing)? You’ll LOVE UMW!” But that seemed a little bland. Also, I wanted to complain about the commuter parking situation. I’ve literally only been able to park directly on College Ave. in the summer, and even then finding a spot is still exciting. Then there’s the issue of SNOW! In winter, the plow piles snow up into valuable spaces in lots that commuters have to share with residents. And I can tell you haven’t moved your car. It’s got 8 inches of snow on it. I’M WATCHING YOU. Then having to be terrified of sliding down Alvey Drive to my untimely doom… I just… want… a good parking spot…

Something I tried to do in this recording is use a lot of alliteration. A lot of words I chose start with or have a hard “C” sound. Commuter Carmen, considerable commuter counts, close-knit community, etc. I’m not sure what effect it had on the overall recording, but I gave it a shot. I did stumble over my words a few times. You can hear it when I try to say “historic downtown Fredericksburg, VA” – it sounds more like “issoric downtown Frerricksburg.” Yikes. I think you can also tell I’ve been having trouble with volume levels. My previous projects had some volume issues too.

Anyway, I started this project off with a script and recorded it in the Voice Memos app on my iPhone. I was able to email it to myself, but then there were some problems with the filetype! Voice Memos records audio as a .m4a, and Audacity just is not into opening .m4a files. Below is a gallery of my struggles. And HERE is a link to the FFmpeg plugin that you need for Audacity to open .m4a files. The link directs you to the LAME encoder section of the page, but just scroll down to the next section. I followed the directions on the Audacity Wiki to download it – the instructions on the wiki say to save the .exe file, which is different from the instructions on the FFmpeg download page itself. I think the Wiki’s instructions were simpler.

That process was a lot easier than I thought it would be! It only took a few minutes (it installs quickly, but I was double-checking a lot to make sure I was doing everything right). Now it was time for the actual project. The sounds I used are all from freesound.org and include highwayunderpass, Fairyland_120, Car start, and  car engine revving up to 7000 rpm (Rover 216 GSi).