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Audio: How not to make radio

January 21, 2010


LISTEN: How Not To Make Radio (November 2004)

I attended a news package-making course at the BBC, led by a colleague who sits at a desk with a massive flight case full of laptops and microphones and various other tasty radio production equipment.

The course consisted of a couple of hours of listening to examples of radio packages you might here on various programmes on Radio 4.

The rest of the day saw me and two other attendees pouring over an hour’s worth of interviews, actuality and sound effects. Our goal was to produce a four minute radio package by 4.30pm. I missed the deadline. My package remains incomplete, although the remaining script should be recorded and dropped into place at the weekend all things being well.

I was terribly disappointed not to have completed the task by the deadline. Whilst I appreciated the importance of meeting the deadline and the immense pressure associated with such a task (hence the learning experience), I felt myself railing against it.

I wanted to take my time. I wanted to craft clips. I wanted to be sure what I heard was right. I wanted to make sure the words sounded convincing. Above all else, I didn’t want to rush it.

That’s not how to make radio. Clearly.

Returning home this evening with a 16GB memory stick in my pocket with all the source material, the mixdown file and various other titbits, I settled down in front of my PC intent on doing some work on it. An hour later and I’ve still not started work on finishing off the package but instead can be found in my office routing around old CDs on the bookshelf in the corner.

There, as I’d hoped was my only CD copy of the first ever package I made during the radio production I attended at Morley College back in 2004.

That radio production course (an evening class spanning ten weeks for the ridiculously low price of £100) was something I reckoned would provide me with a gateway to radio. Five and a half years later I’m a few steps closers but painfully aware of the barriers still in between.

Even so. There is no sense of disappointment listening to it back. In the surprisingly swift 8 minute piece my tutor Michael Kaye explains what makes a radio package, while another student Judith confesses how she’s feeling working on her package for the same course.

Contributions from a BBC producer who spends his whole day making packages provided some balance too. And despite his nightmarish descriptions of his day to day life, radio still seems like my medium. Mind you, that BBC producer worked in TV. That’s far too difficult that TV business.

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One Comment
  1. Emma permalink

    I do like your blog 🙂 I wanted to work in BBC production all the way through my teens.. then lost the plot when I worked for a film company where they were pretty nasty to runners and there seemed no creative impulse between them. How did you do it..?

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