Friday, October 21, 2011

My Adventure on the Peter Schiff Show

Below is my interview with Peter Schiff on his radio show. I learned something about going on a radio show with someone that has a mute button. In listening to the replay, I realize that at many points when Peter was talking, and I was raising an objection, I was simply muted out.

There was a guy sitting in my office during the interview, when I completed the interview,his comment to me after hearing only my end of the interview was, "Boy, you guys really went at it." But, sadly, none of that was heard on the interview.

There are comments from me and then a seeming flow into Peter's comments where I guess people thought I was sucking my thumb or taking notes about Peter's comments. Not the case. My numerous attempts at stopping Peter and correcting a point, you just don't hear in the broadcast.

One point of correction. I write in an earlier post that "Peter caught me off gaurd when he said that a capitation tax is not allowed by the Constitution." Although you didn't hear it, I was objecting to Peter's comment on my call for a head tax and becasue of the crosstalk, I only heard him say that an ammendment would be needed, but what he was doing was bringing up another point which I was not making. He said during the crosstalk, "would you want the government to have to apportion it according to the Constitution, or would we amend the Constitution to allow the government to levy a capitation tax without apportionment?" Earlier, I clearly said that I would be in favor of a per capita tax. I said something like, "Add up the population and divide by the revenue needed," which the Constutution allows. That's why when Peter raised the necessity of an ammendment I was confused, it had nothing to do with the point I was making. So Peter did not suggest that a capitation tax was not Constitutional, he was bringing up a "tax without apportionment," which had nothing to do with what I said.

Next time though, I'll have to record things from my end, also. You all missed a helluva a battle.


  1. I was wondering why your voice as gradually fading in and out quickly.

  2. Schiff is sounding like a mainline republican advocating a sale tax......kinda disappointing.

  3. Mr. Wenzel,

    You make it sound to me as if Mr. Schiff and/or his producers didn't want the whole discussion to be heard by the listening audience.....

  4. I guess that I should mention that one of my hobbies is audio production. What you were hearing is not a mute button (at least, not really). It is what is called a "ducking compressor". Essentially, what it does is allow the primary audio channel to entirely overtake all other audio channels. When it comes to radio, the host typically has the primary channel, and all other channels are quieted. Usually, when it comes to a host making a live commercial (with separate audio), the compressor is set pretty soft to allow the other channels to be heard. However, when it comes to phone calls (even guests), it is common for the ducking effect to be set pretty hard.

    I listened to the show, but I have not really analyzed the audio. But, a tell-tail sign of whether an actual mute button was used or whether a hard ducking compressor was used, is found in the pauses between the hosts words. If you can here bits and pieces of a phone-guests audio contained within the pauses of the hosts speech, then it is simply a ducking compressor. However, if during the pauses between the hosts words all you hear is complete silence, then chances are he has a mute button.

    Interestingly, when Schiff first got his show up and running he had many audio issues with phone calls. I emailed him to tell him that it would be beneficial to use a ducking compressor and a spectrum filter (for common artifacts) in order to fix these issues. I don't know if he took MY actual advise, but he definitely did implement the tools prescribed.

  5. Robert, I wanted to ask..

    You and Peter are friends or at least on good terms, right? I mean, you agree on 95% of things but happen to really go at it on the 5% you may disagree on, right?

    You're both great guys

    Much love,

  6. My view is that it is completely disingenuous for hosts to do this. They can make the claims of 'eliminating confusing crosstalk' or whatever.

    Its not right, and manipulating the conversation can greatly alter the perceived outcome.


  7. I've listened to the audio.

    On any audio compressor, you have different settings such as the threshold (at what audio level the effect begins to compress), ratio (the ratio of loud vs quiet noises allowed in the compressed signal), attack (how quickly the signal is compressed), and release (how long it takes for the compression to subside after a particular audio signal has stopped). While compression is typically used to increase the overall signal gain of an audio channel, it can also be used to decrease the gain of all other audio channels other than the primary channel (this is ducking).

    A ducking compressor uses a process called "side-chaining" to allow one audio channel to control the amount of compression used to reduce the gain of all other audio channels. This is a very important tool in radio, especially when one channel must be heard over all other channels (such as with talk radio or speech over music).

    As I said, it is typical to use a soft ducking effect when doing something like a live commercial. You want the listener to hear the content of the commercial, but the host's voice must be prominent. Soft ducking is also used when there is a radio show that has more than one host. Typically, the "main" host has the primary signal, while the other hosts have soft ducking on their channels (you can still hear them, but when the main host is speaking their channels are quieter than his).

    It should be quite obvious when and where to use hard ducking. On any call-in talk radio show, hard ducking is used on all of the random radio callers. The reasons vary from technical issues like line-noise or background noise from the callers position to something as simple as the fact that the host likes to talk over all of his callers or that most callers don't have much to contribute in the first place. Listen to any call-in radio show and you can hear the effect in action.

    When it comes to call-in "guests", it is common radio etiquette and courtesy to use soft ducking. From what I heard, not only was Schiff using hard ducking for your spot, but he also set a quick attack and a slow release. The only reason to do this is to make sure that the other side doesn't get any words in edgewise.

    The only other possibility is that whoever does Schiff's audio has the compressor set the same for all situations. But, if this were true, then Schiff's voice would completely drown out the music that he plays at the beginning of each segment.

    To really know whether Schiff was deliberately drowning out your audio signal, we would have to look at the audio of past call-in guests and determine if their signal was ducked as much as yours was.

    While any audio signal can be muted, it is usually impractical in live radio. It is far easier to drown out everybody else just by opening your mouth and talking.

  8. I feel like Peter is often oblivious as to when the caller would like to speak up. Maybe because he is more interested in what he is saying, but I kind of think its because he doesn't realize he can't hear the caller trying to speak. I always thought it was the producer fading the caller in and out, but what Fetz said might be whats going on. The way Peter reacts(confused) when callers stop talking(due to hanging up or just not being heard) makes me believe he does not control anything coming from the callers.

  9. the interview is a bit infuriating, hearing 2 grown men argue and not listen to each other, and as they agree on 99% of everything else you would think they should be friends.

    as for the best tax

    income and sales tax would both have same overall wealth draining effect on the economy but would skew it in slightly different ways

    income tax would be more beneficial to the poor, but would discourage people from working and one could argue is a form of slavery.
    sales tax would reduce the economy in the non essential side, but would encourage savings.

    but i agree with Robert, the best tax would be a head tax.
    peter says the danger is that as everyone has to pay it, they could just keep raising it. but they can do that with any other tax, especially one which is hidden in sales or income.
    with a head tax everyone can easily see the government burden on their head, and so protests and revolution would be more likely with every increase, and the government would know it.

    finally, why should the rich pay more tax? the rich dont use the police, or the sidewalks or the sewers more than everyone else.
    a head tax would also stop this poisonous rich witch hunt.
    a head tax would install an new kind of thinking in society, where we realise everyone owes the same

  10. I like both Schiff and Wenzel, but this time Schiff disappointed me. In the interview he sounded like e statist "pragmatist" who kept repeating that THAT low taxes or spending is IMPOSSIBLE, so we must be discussing instead something more realizable. The discussion what is the better or fairer tax is pointless. There isn't such thing as more or less evil. It is STILL evil. The best tax is no tax.

    And of course that the Value Added Tax and the Sales Tax are not a tax on Consumption. This tax is paid by the producer.

  11. as someone who listens to peter everyday I know he always talks too much in his "debates". I love the guy, but some times I just want to hear the guests point of view.

    Most of his guests are morons that he owns, but when he is debating a fellow Austrian it would actually be very interesting to hear your take on things Wenzel.

    You should have been on when Tom Woods hosted the show last week.

  12. "the interview is a bit infuriating, hearing 2 grown men argue and not listen to each other,"

    This is why I can't stand to listen to talk radio. It should just be a monologue show...that would make it less frustrating to listen to.

    The pretense of an "interview" or actually taking a call to get another opinion is all nonsense.

  13. I will say that Peter made a very good point here. Basically stating that yes, 9-9-9 would raise taxes for the middle class...but perhaps that will give the voters a clue as to how much their asinine demands of government really cost.

    The question is -- Will this has an effect on government borrowing? If not, it will be the same shenanigans by politicians to fulfill the wishes of greedy middle-class voters (ie, thieves)

  14. @lewfalo

    Yeah, it's too bad Wenzel's response was muted out.


  16. Joseph is right. There is some ducking. I do not personally run the board, but I do know our processing is pretty standard. It's the same with any guest, and we've never had any complaints. I actually think it's unlikely whatever ducking effect there was muted Robert as much as he suggests.

    Having said that, I've asked the board op if he can offer any further clarification. I'll certainly let everyone know what I hear.

    One thing is for sure -- at no point was Robert intentionally muted.

    Hope this helps.

    Tom Elliott (Peter's producer)

  17. The problem was not that Robert was not allowed to speak, but that he had nothing not say. I will be posting a video response to his false allegations as well as the entire interview on my youtube channel The Schiff Report. Listen for yourselves.

    Peter Schiff

  18. There is a typo in my post -- I fixed it below

    The problem was not that Robert was not allowed to speak, but that he had nothing to say. I will be posting a video response to his false allegations as well as the entire interview on my youtube channel The Schiff Report. Listen for yourselves.

    Peter Schiff

  19. Zero tax sounds good, but unfortunately, the gov does need money to pay its bills. I agree the fed. gov. should be only be a fraction of its present size. The sales tax is much less intrusive into personal privacy and is much better than a capitation tax which some may not have the resources to pay and would require some huge gov organization to collect it. Under a sales tax,no one will be asked to pay more than their ability and wealthier people will pay a higher total because they will buy more stuff.

  20. Tom Elliot and (supposedly) Peter Schiff,

    I could explicitly hear Robert's voice come in and out of the output audio when Peter's voice was on the edge of the compressor's threshold. Further, at more than a few points I could hear the release of the ducking compressor on Robert's audio when Peter stopped talking (after speaking at or above the compressor's set threshold). There is not an audio engineer that I know that could mistake that sound for anything other than what it was-- a ducking effect release after the primary input signal fell below the set threshold.

    Now, you state that you're going to release the raw audio and prove him wrong... what's stopping you?

    It is not as if it takes any time to release the raw audio, all you have to do is go to the archival recordings and cut out the audio in question within the DAW, (data) compress it, and then release it on the internet. There is no production or editing (other than cutting out that particular portion of audio from the archival audio file) involved in this process. I think that I know what is taking so long....

    As with most commercial radio programs, your signal path is effected before recording for archival purposes (by use of outboard/rack equipment quite early in the audio-chain). That is to say that you're using compression, de-essing, ducking, EQ, etc directly on the "board" and that this all takes place before the audio actually reaches the recording device (your signal path has taken many turns before getting printed on tape/hard-disk). The result is that you cannot reverse the techniques that were utilized to enhance the overall "live talk radio" experience; the effects used in the production of the live show are also present in the archive recordings. I can't fault you necessarily for this, it is rather an ignorance with regard to the standard established by AES archive standards (as well as other audio associations).

    I will admit that I have no idea what your studio setup is, or what equipment it is that you're using specifically. But, I have been around enough radio people (and, the audio production world in general) to know that they usually record the radio presentation rather than the raw audio feed (a big mistake). Some of the more intelligent producers ensure that their board op assigns all channels to an aux/bus channel by default (completely dry) and route that directly to their archival recording device (usually a dedicated hard drive for archival purposes). I think that somebody forgot to give that specific direction to the board op (this would be the producer's job, Tom).

    What do I think or opine upon based on your available podcast? I think that this is the archival footage of the broadcast and that the same aural dynamics are present in this presentation as that of the live broadcast. Why do I think this? Well, the first clue is that it is filled with mains hum (60hz and the harmonics thereof), a pretty harsh and prevalent "jitter" (what I have recently been calling the "Matrix" effect) and that I can hear the hard drive's stylus making its high-pitched sweep across the disk; this tells me that this is your "master recording". Further, it contains the same exact dynamic effects that were present in the original broadcast. This is the only recording that you have...

    I don't have anything against Peter, I like Peter a lot. But, you and I both know that your board is using hard-ducking compression to allow Peter to rant over any detractors. Why do you guys deny this? This is standard radio production and you know it... The fact that I have called you out on it puts you on the defensive, which I completely understand. But, we all know that I am not being insincere or lying; I actually do understand this business and how it works.