Radio 1 Offers Stage for Local Artists
     

Musician and singer Raymond van het Groenewoud invited his friends on stage during Radio 1 Sessies. Credit VRT
ANTWERP, Belgium — For the sixth consecutive year, Dutch-language public broadcaster VRT’s Radio 1 (www.radio1.be) staged “Radio 1 Sessies” (www.radio1.be/programmas/radio-1-sessies), a week-long series of live concerts with homegrown artists and guests.

This year’s event took place Nov. 11–15 at the Trix venue in Antwerp. VRT recorded the sessions for live broadcast and streaming, and program content for the broadcaster’s OP12 thematic TV channel.

For VRT engineers and technicians, Radio 1 Sessies involves quite a bit of logistics and staff. In addition to a mobile audio studio, the broadcaster also installed a live radio studio backstage at the venue, plus a TV production truck. During the live event, the technical crews remained on site from 11 a.m. to midnight.

CAPTURING LIVE
Radio 1 Station Manager Filip Pletinckx — Credit VRT
With artists such as Dez Mona, Johan Heldenbergh, Johan Verminnen, Bent van Looy and “Dutch” Rick de Leeuw acting as session “curators,” each of the five concert nights swiftly sold out. The session’s formula, which consists of the curators inviting well-known guests, such as Helmut Lotti, Raymond van het Groenewoud, Paul Michiels (Soulsister) and Admiral Freebee, is popular among the audience. Host Luc Janssen also interviews each of the curators on a side stage next to the public.

VRT audio engineer Raf De Clercq, who has been with the Radio 1 Sessies project since day one, handles the mixing of the live music in the VRT M1 digital multitrack mobile. “We use a multichannel split on stage, routing into either analog or MADI. All of the music channels are routed to M1’s Stagetec Aurus console for the music mix. We also channel the audience mix (applause, etc.) to the Radio 1 studio where the program’s technicians blend the live music content with presentations and interviews from the side stage,” he said.

“We multitrack with Pro Tools 10 and a JoeCo MADI multitrack recorder for later use — for broadcasts or CDs and editing in the VRT studios.”

The Radio 1 Sessies audience enjoying the music of Rick De Leeuw’s (R). Credit VRT
The temporary radio studio at the Trix is equipped with a DHD RM4200 D broadcast console, which controls the stereo music mix from M1, the ambience mix and the jingles and interviews for presenter Luc Janssen. Interviews take place during stage changes, resulting in a three-hour nonstop show, broadcast live on Radio 1 from 8 to 11 p.m.

De Clercq explains that the Stagetec Aurus is configured with 64 channels — not excessive considering the number of musicians and instruments, but by sharing guitar amps and drum kits, he managed to avoid creating a massive production on stage.

STREAMLINED PRODUCTION
Audio rental firm Imec supplies live sound on stage. “It’s the sixth year we have been assigned this project,” said Frank Geerts, system tech at Imec. “I must admit the current configuration of d&b audiotechnik array cabinets is a bit oversized for the location, but then again, the combination of the line array speakers, the sub arrays and cardio subs is a substantial improvement for the radio mix. The use of cardio subs and the directivity of the monitor speakers drastically reduces front-of-house sound on stage and radio mix crosstalk.”

VRT Audio Engineer Raf De Clercq at the helm of the Stagetec Aurus console in the VRT M1 mobile. Credit Marc Maes
Geerts adds that they selected the d&b audiotechnik range of speakers because of their excellent speech-intelligibility — the entire system was configured without any extra equalizing and only minimal use of filters. Imec used a Digidesign console for the front-of-house mix FOH mix and a Yamaha PM1D as monitor console.

“Radio 1 Sessies is an important project for us as a station,” said newly appointed Radio 1 Station Manager Filip Pletinckx. “The concerts illustrate our commitment toward domestic music production. For the artists, the high-quality environment, the original music lineup (with guests invited on stage) represent an amazing introduction to a huge and diverse audience.”

Marc Maes reports on the industry for Radio World from Antwerp, Belgium.

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