Module Identifier TFM1910  
Module Title RADIO PRODUCTION 1  
Academic Year 2007/2008  
Co-ordinator Ms Esther Prytherch  
Semester Semester 1  
Other staff Mr Nick Strong, Mr Dorian L Jones  
Co-Requisite All other core modules  
Course delivery Lecture   5 practical sessions (morning workshops) lasting three and a half hours each will contain a mix of lectures demonstrations and practical exercises  
  Seminars / Tutorials   Students will be given individual supervision as they practice skills in the morning workshops. The final workshop will also consist of a play back of their work and a period of critical discussion after each production.  
  Practical   Students will be expected to practice recording and editing skills in their own time. Equipment will be made available for this purpose. Technical staff will be available to assist as necessary.  
  Other   Guest lectures from specialists within the field of radio production.  
Assessment
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment ind work Demonstrate individual competencies in digital audio recording and editing through the assembly of a pre-recorded item including interviewing on location, scripting and delivery, editing with use of music or FX and a studio/production booth recorded top and tail. The radio package should be no longer than 3 minutes. TX time and destination to be articulated by the student. Submit on CD.50%
Semester Assessment radio script Formulate two short pieces of radio script from research material supplied by the tutor. The first, for a pre-recorded classical music programme on a given composer for a commercial radio station. This should be 50" long. The second script is for a live daily strand on a BBC network. This should be 30" duration. Record both scripts. Submit scripts on A4 and recordings on CD.30%
Semester Assessment analysis Critically analyse both previous submissions, justifying the structure, language, style and delivery. (2000 words)20%
Supplementary Assessment Resits of assignments, when necessary, will follow the same structure. 

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to:

1. Use radio production technology to a required broadcast standard.
2. Utilise creative techniques currently employed in the radio industry to develop their own productions effectively.
3.   Develop a capacity to self-critique their own work and that of their fellow students.

Aims

To allow students to develop basic technical radio production skills that will be built upon over the second and third semesters.

Brief description

This module will require students to acquire an appropriate level of technical expertise to facilitate the delivery of all core production components required through this scheme. It will also introduce students to writing skills needed for clarity of expression in the medium of radio.

Content

Five practical sessions containing a mix of lectures, demonstrations and practical exercises will concentrate on the following themes:

1) Learning the principals and practice of recording on location

Indicative Session Content

The Marantz PMD 670 and the HHB Plasamic are the main types of digital portable recorders discussed and taught on this module. They all have the advantage of being able to instantly locate tracks and scan through them, with easy identification. The hard drive recorders allow recorded material to be transferred immediately onto the software package to edit. Choosing the correct microphone and the technique of using it are essential and the principals and practice will be taught e.g. when recording on a busy street, the microphone will have to be placed as close to the interviewee as possible in order to have more of them than the traffic noise. When recording in large rooms with high ceilings and bare floors allowances must be made. If there are curtains or anything else that will absorb some of the echo and reverberation, the interview should be recorded in that part of the room. Most equipment carries meters to indicate whether the sound level is within prescribed limits. If the level is too low for a sustained period of time, the transmitter will try to find some sound to boost artificially, while if levels are too high, the sound becomes distorted and difficult to understand. Equipment meters are only there as a back up as the most important meters are ones ears. When recording on location the equipment used does not have speakers. It is therefore advisable to monitor the recording through the headphones as it is recorded. Headphones or not, ones ears must be sensitive to the atmosphere in which one is working and to any extraneous sounds that could make editing the disc impossible or become acutely annoying to the listener. Ears must be kept open to unwanted sounds and interrupting an interview discreetly may be necessary with a repeat of the last question and answer.

2) Learning the principals and practice of editing

Indicative Session Content

The purpose of editing is to delete unwanted material. Whether it is to bring an eight-minute piece down to four, or cleaning up pauses or stammers or to rearrange the order. Listening to the material before editing and making notes is an integral part of the process. One should never change the meaning of what is said and one should not confuse the listener by leaving in unwanted references when a particular sentence has been edited out. The listener should never be aware of any edits. Matching natural speech rhythms is the key which means leaving in the thoughtful pause or an intake of breath. Sadie, Protools and Adobe Audition are all multi channel computer-editing programmes. All editing software programmes work by displaying the recorded sound as a visible line known as a wave form which shows the peaks and troughs of the recording. The biggest pitfall is the tendency to use ones eyes and not ones ears. Radio is about sound and because there appears to be a gap in the waveform it does not mean it should automatically be edited out. The construction of effective radio packages will also be addressed.

3) `How to use one's own voice; and `Delivering a written script;

Indicative Session Content

Finding one's own pace and style in front of the microphone will be taught on this module. Experimentation with the voice will be encouraged by varying intonation, speed of delivery, pace and tone. One can add authority to the delivery by lowering the register (women in particular). The most important factor is not to talk to a microphone but imagine talking to a friend who is sitting no more than six feet away. The listener should never be aware that the presenter is reading from a script. Reading conversationally without rattling the paper is crucial. Delivery should be measured, no matter how fast or slow. The average speaking pace is three words per second but one should aim to speak fast enough to maintain interest, but slow enough to keep the audience listening. The voice must project well and convey credibility without shouting. As we sit and talk we communicate thoughts, and we think and listen in groups of words and phrases. One must learn to read a script in the same way. This will depend on having a well written script in the first place. If it is written conversationally, it can be read conversationally. Scripts should always be read aloud before recording them or going live on air.   The words of the script should be articulated clearly and pounced upon rather than tricking out. The end of a sentence is as important as the beginning therefore the voice should not trail off. The most important thing is to know what one is talking about. Credibility is the aim that comes with knowledge, understanding and authority.

The components of writing must be considered before writing a script. Music and effects can take the listener a part of the way, but it is the words that have to be precise and meaningful. The script will need to be assessed before reaching the listener. Keeping it simple is vital. Words must be chosen carefully with the correct weight and tone with no repetition. The construction of the words is important. When writing for radio one should aim to create vivid "sound pictures" in the listener's mind. The listener has no way of knowing if a faceless voice is registering surprise or skepticism. It is the words that tell the story and they should therefore be chosen on the basis of their weight, clarity and expressiveness. Words should be easily understood on the first hearing as the listener does not get a chance to hear them again.

4) Equipment in studio and production booths
Indicative Session Content
Digital equipment and editing software has changed the face of broadcasting. The mixing desk has more than one channel or source of sound and is either operated by an audio supervisor or self- operated by the presenter. Which channel is heard is decided by which fader is open. If there is more than one fader open, then sounds are being mixed together in some way e.g. two microphones faded up for an interview or a music CD being mixed with a pre recorded sound track from one of the computer screens and a presenter talking over both. Production booths or workshops generally contain a computer screen and a mixing desk with a smaller capacity than the desk in the main control room. If an interview is being recorded on the phone or in the studio one must keep an eye on the level and ride it if necessary. The quality of a phone interview will be much better if the phone fader is dipped when a question is asked as the phone line will colour the voice and make it sound odd. As always using one┬┐s ears is crucial. If the interviewee is across the desk from the presenter/interviewer it is important to learn to keep a peripheral eye on the meter without loosing eye contact with the guest. Wearing headphones gives an accurate reflection of what is happening on the recording or on air. The producer will communicate with the presenter/interviewer either via the headphones or computer. The most instant access is through headphones.

5) Studio discipline and Directing Others, Live OBs

Indicative session Content

Studio discipline is important because it is not possible to create a good radio programme without all those involved in it hearing it The first rule of studio discipline is silence. Things that need to be said should be clearly understood. Directions should be succinct. One should never shout. Sensitive timing is needed when imparting relevant information. Guests must only be allowed into the control room (cubicle) when the producer or audio supervisor gives permission. They must always be quiet. The producer always makes the decisions. The presenter and audio supervisor may have an opinion but the producer decides. If there is anarchy on a programme, that is what the listener will hear, therefore one person has to make the final decision, and those decisions must be made clear to everyone concerned and accepted even if they are wrong.
Unlike programmes that can be carefully planned, programmes from an OB have to be able to change direction according to what is happening at the event. It is live and reactive, conveying not just what is happening on the pitch or stage but also the reaction of the crowd or audience and the whole atmosphere so that the listener shares the experience. For example, at sporting events, a substantial amount of the atmosphere is provided with effects microphones that relay the sound of the crowd. As well as reporting on the game the commentator has to be aware of the crowd's reactions and explain those to the listener.

Final programmes to be played and critiqued.

Reading Lists

Books
** Recommended Text
Aspinall, R. Radio Programme Production:A Manual for Training
Mc Heish, R (2005) Radio Production Focal Press
** Recommended Background
Alled, R. and Miller, N. (1996) The Post Production Age: New Technologies, New Communities University of Luton Press
Crissell, A. (1994) Understanding radio Routledge
Flemming , C. (2002) The Radio Handbook Routledge
McLeish, R. (1994) The Techniques of Radio Production: A Manual for Braodcasters Focal Press
Wilby P. and Conroy, A. (1994) The Radio Handbook Routledge
Wilby, P, Conroy, A. and Fleng C (2002) The Radio Handbook Routledge

Notes

This module is at CQFW Level 7