# Radio Backtiming, I don't know how. got a formula or something?

I have a show tomorrow and I don't understand how to back time. Our system lines up the top and bottom of the hour but we have breaks inbetween. um. I know how to run a scott studio program but I think you add the time of the song and the time you are at, minus the time you need to get to? I don't know.

so like:

lets say the time is 9:15:00 and I talked for 30 secs so its 9:15:30 and I have a song already playing that that 3:35 secs long and is counting down, and I need to fill the time gap so my clock hits at 9:19:00 (sports news) how do I find out how long of a song I need? sorry if it seems dumb but I'm just learning how to do this and my math is really bad.

could you like...show me a formula or something?

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• Duh
Lv 7

It's math, here's my standard essay on setting up a radio clock:

Set up a clock. Yup, just a circle with increments lined out. In your clock you put the "segments" which are made up of "elements". Elements are what makes the content of the show - in various segments. Got it so far?

OK, here's an example. Don't have to do it like this, but it may point you in the right direction: So you start at the "Top" of the hour, let's say 12 noon, (the top is straight up at 12, the bottom, is at 6 - and so on). You open with a 15" spoken introduction of your show. At 7" (we're going to use ' for minutes and " for seconds) you start the intro to the first song which is 9" total. So, by the time you finish your first 15" rap, the vocal will be just about ready to start with 1" to spare - that's called a run-up, or talk-up to the vocal. Don't "STEP ON THE VOCAL." (That's what happens when a jock mis-times it and talks after the singer starts.)

You didn't know there was math involved? Well get used to thinking in increments of 60's if you want to do radio.

Let's say that song runs 2:53 (two minutes, 53 seconds); when the song ends you're 3' into your hour and you have completed a segment that contained two elements (your rap and the song). There's 57' left in your hour. Plug in the remaining elements and segments. Whether they are talk, news, a pre-recorded element or music - or a combination, such as when you are talking over the intro to a song as we did with the first segment. If you're using the Scott System (BTW I've known Dave Scott, the inventor for 20 years!)

Lay out your hour to include the segments of entertainment, music, talk, news, features etc. Add the elements like intros, jingles, commercials (even pretend commercials that usually come in 15", 30" and/or 60" versions like Public Service Announcements or fake comedy commercials).

Continue until your first and any subsequent hours are complete. Now you've got a clock which is to radio what a script is to a play or TV show.

Good luck, practice a lot and let me know how you're coming along or if you have any questions.

-a guy named Duh

Source(s): 40 years in the biz
• Anonymous

Basically, it's all done on the fly.

I doubt the cart at 9:19:00 is either synched or anchored through the scheduling program, so that makes things more difficult (that particular time won't show on the top of the cart queue with the time difference). What you can do is figure out when the song that's playing now is going to end, and subtract that time from 19:00. That will determine the length of the song you need to fill the time. In this instance, the song that's playing already will stop five seconds after the scheduled time of the news cart. Most stations allow a window of up to 90 seconds off the scheduled time, but if you want it to play at exactly that time, you could talk for only 25 seconds.

Source(s): I have worked in radio for five years, all of which with Scott Studios

Ouch. There is no formula... you just have to do the math. I agree with the previous answer that suggested drawing a clock. That will help a lot. I worked with a 40 year veteran who did it that way every time.

The math is not too hard. Just start early (at least five minutes out from the event) and do it a couple times to make sure. Keep your voice over short, if possible.

Until you get the hang of it, try to come up a few seconds short and have a bumper or instrumental bed ready. Or use a song with a long fade.

Scot system is pretty good for backtiming since you can look up songs by their length.

When you get good enough, you can backtime with songs that end cold and the boss will be super impressed.

***EDIT: I take it all back- do what the 40 year vet says... Great advice and I am humbled!

Presuming your station is in this century look for the option "back time" with a left or right click of the mouse at the appropriate spot.

Don't go randomly clicking, just ask a fellow grunt at the station. It may feel embarrassing, but it isn't. I can't do math either and have done just what I'm telling...twice. Chances are your fellow grunt has had or has the same problem. If you work with all sharks your problems are greater than backtiming and this is a good way to find out.

On our automation system, right under the current time there is also a countdown clock and this usually works for me. There is also a green or red box that indicates my over/under hour minutes and this works if the simple "time left" doesn't.

There are also ways to check these things outside of the active log and is probably best unless you are working on the fly. If you have the time arrive earlier and take back timing out of the equation before you take the air.

Any self respecting automation system works this way and should do it for you. Even IT knows you've got more important things to worry about.

Again, a disclaimer, I've only worked with PSI stuff so I could be way wrong. But PSI products feel like the hind-end of automation. I've always prayed there was something better out there.

Source(s): Prophet, NexGen
• Anonymous

theres an example of a show clock. . .

Usually AM radio relies on these more than FM but hope that gives you an idea . . .

Also w/ the delay from the board and the fact that nothing hits dead on, you should have 8-20 sec leway, or if its an actual studio program there should be a feature to make an event a hard start, meaning you set the exact time it fires, and then just fade whatever plays behind it, like the song. That should segue just fine.

Source(s): Been in radio for waaaay to long

okay, assuming you aren't talking over the song... that will leave you roughly at 9:19:05...

The best way to learn backtiming is just doing it. It sounds like you're fairly new on the air... If your music is all on the computer, your MD or PD has probablly got the hour timed out correctly.

When I was first on the air, I would draw out a clock and figure things that way.