Sounding Off In "You Asked For It"

Why are TV commercials so much louder than regular programs? That's what Marilyn Dow wanted to know when she wrote KLTV with a "You Asked For It" question.

KLTV consulted with its own internal staff and experts at Cox Communications, and here's what we learned. Cox plant manager Bart Webster says it's the commercial producers who determine a commercial's sound quality.

"Often times they're in a hurry getting their commercial on air," says Webster. "They try their best to keep their audio at an optimum level, but that doesn't always happen because they're trying to produce that commercial."

KLTV station manager Brad Streit adds says sometimes commercial producers want viewers to notice a punch in the sound level.

"The reality is programmed audio can be at a low level, and commercials are designed to attract attention," says Streit. "So typically a good commercial is going to perhaps blare or give the perception of that."

When commercials get to Cox Communications and Channel 7 News, production crews double check sound levels to make sure the range is appropriate. But that doesn't mean all the sound will be uniform.

Both, Streit and Webster, agree that sometimes it's the viewer who perceives a commercial as louder than the program. For instance, when a station jumps from a slow moving movie to an upbeat commercial, viewers may be taken aback by the change in tone.

"The level itself is usually not changing, but its just that perception going from something quiet to something that's louder," adds Streit.

Whether higher commercial sound is perception or an advertising ploy, one things for sure, commercial are not going anywhere, anytime soon.