Saturday, November 26, 2011

Then and Now

Thirty years ago, I wanted a career in radio. I was an avid music fan and constantly had the radio tuned to the various offerings that one can get in the nation's top radio market (and my county was the 11th market at that time, while still being within the listening area of #1).

A friend had a low wattage station that he ran out of his house, fully above board with his FCC Engineer's license and when I was 16, I was bestowed with an air shift on his station. As he was a college student, all the talent at the station pre-recorded their shows, which Joe replayed at more convenient times. Even then, he had a knack for automation, as we'd spend many an evening hanging out at his house, my house and my friend Lisa's house and if we were at mine or his, we could tune in the station and listen. At two miles away, Lisa's house fell outside the range of the station's very small transmitter.

Still, the desire was rooted and I ventured off to college with plans of majoring in Radio/TV production and eventually getting a job in the business. I got 'hired' on at the college radio station, where I started as a news reporter and eventually, I got coveted air shifts, then the prized Saturday afternoon rock shift, where I could play whatever I wanted for two hours. We even had a decent audience and sometimes, that phone would ring constantly with requests for Zepplin, Floyd, B 52's, Depeche Mode and Kool and the Gang (the last was from a good friend who didn't quite 'get' the rock format.)

I learned a lot in those first few months at the station, like how to produce some of the talk programming, run a board during news broadcasts and produce public service announcements and news actualities (short human interest stories) onto cartridges that others could use during their news broadcasts.

It was great, I became skilled at audio production, to the point that one of the Radio/TV professors walked into the station's production studio (which I'd been using to make some PSA's) with his class of 20 or so students and said "Hey, Sue, teach my class how to edit."

It changed my course in college somewhat, because I didn't see the point in paying for a class to the learn production skills I already had, and that sent me over to the Theatre department and a major in Technical Theatre. (Yes, I chose the majors you didn't find many girls in-what of it?). Still, over the next two years, I remained at the station and got quite adept at producing content.

(Someday, I'm going to pull out my remix of Chaka Khan's "I Feel For You" and transfer it to the digital medium"-it is my first production effort.)

Anyway, I moved to Maryland and quickly got a job at an AM station and found that I could make more money flipping hamburgers, so my bubble burst pretty quickly.

However, those skills? They were stored away. Several years ago, Ed got a copy of Sonic Foundry and I now could use those audio production skills, but in a new way. No longer did I need a white grease pencil, razor, editing block and splicing tape.

Now, if I want to edit my recordings, I just had to place a marker at the start and end points of the recording I wished to remove and with a couple of keystrokes, I was golden. Heck, if I overcut my edit, a mere 'undo' would restore what I needed, so I could retry. No more 1/2" splice after splice to restore a mismarked piece of reel to reel tape.

Well, with video, it's equally easy to edit what I produce from raw data to something closer to what I had envisioned. For example, this semester, one class required our small group to produce educational content for web-delivery of our choosing. As I had the voice over experience, I was tasked with that work. I was able to bang it all out in one or two takes.

The video was a little different, for it required screen captures of me using software and voicing over in real time. I could have done that in two steps, but it made more sense to me to not bother with synching the two later.

These past couple of weeks, I've worked on creating all the audio (21 segments from 30 seconds to two minutes) and six video screen captures. My skill set made it clear where my experience lay, because those segments were done in about three hours, including editing. The video? Well, it took more time, but I'm happy to say that I still have all my hair-and all the video I intended to use.

I suspect that if you showed students in the Radio/TV major this picture today, they wouldn't know what the heck it is-or that it pertains to what they wish to do after they graduate!


1 People talked back:

JW said...

Funny because lately I have flirted with the idea of journalism but after hearing an interview of a guy involved in a regional paper I think that idea should be laid to rest. He says in journalism you end up going from city to city because you will not find work in a large city out of college. Hmmm, next idea?