radio production and podcast

Public Radio's Core Values (1.19.2012)

From today’s presentation by Jon Haban and Rickey Bevington, what struck home the most for me was Mr. Haban’s emphasis on the core values public radio seeks to exemplify.  The qualities of mind & intellect, qualities of heart & spirit, and qualities of craft can each stand alone to create a compelling story.  However, it is the intersection of these three points that really elevates the stories to the caliber of content public radio strives to provide its listeners.  Keeping these three qualities in mind will be a helpful guideline in pitching my spot for GPB.

too many cooks spoil the pot

When I was a little kid, my grandmother had a placard in her kitchen that read “too many cooks spoil the pot.”  I took it literally at the time, but eventually after reading it year after year of going to visit her, I realized its deeper implication:  that when a group of people all try to exert control over the same menial task, chaos is sure to ensue while the task lies unnoticed until eventually the soup burns because no one is paying it any attention.

Anyway.

Trying to convert a newspaper article to an ear-appropriate piece proved to be quite a struggle for our class on Tuesday, and trying to tackle the project as a group effort reminded me of my grandmother’s quaint kitchen altruism.  I don’t see how writers are EVER capable of collaborating in that manner.  Once we each turned to our own computer monitors, it proved much simpler to convert the newspaper stories to a more aurally pleasing format, though admittedly most of the class, myself included, still struggled.  I’m thankful that thus far in my experience, writing, which has always come easily and naturally to me, has been a solo effort.  I enjoy collaborating when it comes to planning, and I can see how a team of writers might sit around to agree on the organization of a program or the assignments for each to undertake individually–but when I recall that many of my favorite television shows are written by a team of writers, I cringe and pity them for having to endure such a frustrating experience.  Vive la individual!

inundation (2.7.2012)

I felt a little overwhelmed after all the information we discussed Thursday in class.  In fact, it made it difficult for me to come away with a clearly defined “one thing” to take from the class meeting.  I did particularly enjoy discovering ways to come up with story ideas; however, I feel that my trouble will be in transitioning a nebulous story concept into a well-defined, to-the-point, 2 minute sound story.  But I just need to keep reminding myself that I’m here to learn!

Listening (2.2.2012)

I seem to be in the minority here based on everyone else’s posts, but I really didn’t care that much forSnap Judgement.  I didn’t find many of the anecdotes that compelling other than the bit about the man rescuing a group of young people from Lake Michigan.  I preferred the Fresh Air interview; although the interviewee seemed a bit pompous, the subject matter in and of itself was intriguing.  Of course, as a musical theatre nerd, I would be intrigued by a Tony-winning musical writer.

Say It!

Once again, simplicity was the driving force in today’s class.  Over-complicating stories is such an easy trap to fall in, whereas getting down to the bare bones facts of a story seems to be the most successful approach.  I wonder why our brains want to immediately jump into a deep analysis of the stories we’re reading, rather than simply striving to impart the information in a factual, simple manner?

The thing that truly struck home the most from today’s class, though, was when Professor Stachura said that the most important thing to remember when condensing a press release or news article into a spot/reader/voicer is reading the material, then SAYING IT OUT LOUD!  Again–the simplest thing can so easily be overlooked.  As many of you, I have a lot of experience in writing but little to no experience in generating content intended to be read aloud.  It’s amazing how much of a difference speaking these pieces aloud makes when considering how to phrase concepts that seem already stripped down to the bare basics.

Finally, I’d just like to say that this course and another course I’m currently taking, Performance for the Camera, are really going hand in hand.  For the moment in Performance for the Camera we’re focusing on being on-camera in a non-fictional context (basically reading news stories) and a lot of the topics we’ve covered have turned out to be cross-curricular.  If you haven’t taken the course (COMT 4010), I recommend it.

Field Producing (1.26.2012)

Although I missed class on 1/24, I found the assigned chapter for that day to be really interesting.  I don’t have a clear-cut career goal in mind; I’ve often thought I’d like to work in the media in some capacity but without a clearly defined medium sticking out over another as the most intriguing.  This chapter on field producing highlighted some of the many responsibilities of a producer.  A lot of the tasks seem daunting and almost trivial, and I could see where one might easily take many of them for granted.  However, all of these types of things are the sorts of things I love to do!  I’m a to-do-list-making, contacts-list-compiling, double-checking planner.  I think going into producing might just be my calling.

F&B On the Brain

These are my story ideas.  I tried to limit the topics to a narrow enough focus so that the story is concise and apparent without just plopping down vague subjects, but I’m not altogether sure if I succeeded.  I feel like a lot of the gathering info/research process of each piece would cause the story to develop naturally throughout the process of acquiring data and sound.  Anyway, I tried to use the story seed approach for the most part.  I think I could see any of these topics having a state-wide relevance while tooting the horn of our little corner of Georgia.

  1. For Augusta restaurants, niche is key- Interview a few different restaurants with an identifiable “flavor” to examine what makes them stand out

    - Gather info from online sites/ratings/reviews demonstrating Augusta’s favorite places to dine

    - Preview up and coming restaurants?

  2. Columbia County prepares for county-wide broadband access- Describe the project and its implications for Columbia County residents and visitors

    - Talk with the engineers of the project for questions like when will the WiFi be available, cost of use, information about the grant, etc.

    - Interview people at the locations where the service will be available to discover whether people are aware, excited, unaware, etc.

  3. Mmm…beer!- Homebrewing is growing in popularity; interview Augusta homebrew clubs

    - Highlight stores/restaurants where local microbrews can be purchased

    - Aiken brewery

    - Augusta’s own brewery on horizon?

    You’ll notice that two of my three topics pertain to the food and beverage industry.  I suppose this is a reflection of the mantra “write what you know.”  I’ve been a server at a restaurant downtown for a year, and before that I’ve bartended and waited tables at other places as well, so I’m really familiar with the industry (particularly in Augusta where there is an unspoken hierarchy of F&B jobs/establishments).  I think this will be really useful in writing these pieces!

Namaste

Today while discussing our vocal warmup exercises, Professor Stachura reminded the class of the importance of opening our bodies physically, keeping our arms neutral, chests full, and shoulders back, adding a quip about imagining we’re in a “pyscho yoga class.”

Later in class, I found my thoughts centering on the idea of balance, of finding a happy medium between the two extremes in my vocal approaches to reading scripts on mic (the first run was too slow and over-emphasized, whereas the second seemed lightning-fast and unenunciated).  It got me thinking, this notion of balance goes deeper than just physical balance.

Cheesy though it may be, I’ve always enjoyed the vocal and physical warmups involved in performance-oriented classes.  In high school theatre, I loved doing yoga during our warmups, and having a grasp of mental balance really aids the process of achieving balance in other areas as well.

On the radio, journalists become performers, whose instrument is a combination of written word imparted orally, and received aurally by the listeners.  To be successful in this endeavor, a radio journalist needs to have a good grasp on each medium.  Writing, speaking, listening, thinking…all four elements are essential to explore in order to achieve the perfect balance among the four.

risk

The most striking aspect of today’s class discussion was the risk involved in being a journalist.  From interviewing a bombastic/hostile subject to walking around a dangerous neighborhood to acquire a scene, it seems that many risks can be encountered when putting together a piece.

But what about the other risks, the kind that don’t seem so obvious?  Risking your credibility by inadvertently making a politically charged assertion on a social media site; risking your reputation as a reporter if for reasons beyond your control the story you pitched suddenly falls apart; risking your moral integrity by associating your name with a story that doesn’t quite align itself with your values.  These are all dilemmas that as students we don’t really think about.  But being a student is temporary, and pretty soon, we’re going to be facing the strange new world of professionalism.

I like to think of myself as tactful and socially cognizant enough not to make such faux pas to damage my future credibility.  But it’s so easy to be overly judgmental and assertive of my opinions–which are many, and steadfast for the most part.

I guess the adage “no risk, no gain” applies here.  I feel that the best journalists take calculated risks, and I hope I learn to do the same.

being too meticulous will get the best of me

One thing that has worried me since the beginning of the semester is the concept of having to edit audio.  I had a little bit of practice in this last semester when I was taking two filmmaking classes with Professor Pukis (before I withdrew) and it was always REALLY difficult for me.  Well, not exactly difficult, but extremely time consuming.  I know the basic concept of how to edit audio using Audition or Audacity, and for the trial run and my first spot I had to do some minor cutting of my audio, but when approaching putting together an entire feature which will require more layering of sound and cleaning up the actualities, I am a bit nervous that the editing process will wind up taking me far longer than it should.  And I think that the reason for this is that when it comes to using the audio editing software, I’m just too meticulous.  Unfortunately, the more intrepid I am in this regard, the longer it will be before I earn my editing chops, since I’m fairly certain the only way I’m going to get any better or quicker in the process is just by practicing the craft.

practical application

I really enjoyed today’s exercise in which we received a press release and had to produce a spot with a cut of audio from an interview (even though I still haven’t completed it).  It felt good to finally put all the things we’ve discussed thus far into a practical application.  In my two interviews, I learned the importance of mic placement and testing the levels of the equipment before diving in with recording the audio.  Writing the script was still challenging, but I hope my final product is worth it.