WEEKs 3 & 4 - RADIO
Meet Your Instructor
Peter Skinner was the Senior Producer for Radio Current Affairs for CBC North in the Northwest Territories and Radio Network Producer for Performance and Current Affairs for CBC North. A former sketch-revue comedian and bar-band drummer with many (deservedly) forgotten combos, Peter began his radio career in 1979 as a technician at CFCF Radio in Montreal. He worked as a radio host (at CJSB in Ottawa), open-line host (at CJAD in Montreal and CBL’s Radio Noon in Toronto), associate producer (at CBC Radio’s Open House and CBC-TV’s Man Alive), network producer (as founding producer of CBC Radio’s Tapestry) and in management (Program Director for the Canadian Forces Radio & TV Network at CFB Baden-Soellingen in West Germany and as Radio Program Manager for CBC North in the NWT and Managing Editor for CBC North). The worst job he ever had was in a ski-pole manufacturing plant, where he lasted for two 13-hour overnight shifts before quitting to become a sound man for another (deservedly) forgotten bar band.
- You have a professional Zoom H2n recorder
- You have a 32 gig SD memory card
- You have rechargeable batteries that are fully charged
- You have downloaded Audacity onto your computer
- You have done the recording and editing exercise below
YOU ARE READY FOR RADIO!
Audacity tutorials – Google Audacity tutorials – there are tons
- Record a conversation between you and someone 🙂
- Upload it into an Audacity timeline
- Play with all of the tools
- Cut between “clips” and move your clips around
- Hum a song and add a music track
- Fade your music under your voice
- Notice levels – we will cover this lots
- Repeat 🙂
The Zoom H2n XY vs Mid Side microphone configurations
- Editing an Audio File – Import the file, edit and export it
- Online manual
- You can find many tutorial videos online. Just google the function you are trying to figure out (eg. ‘Remove background noise in Audacity’).
- Focus on basics of radio journalism
- Students will have a story that they have been working on during the previous sections of the Institute, including potential guests who are available for recorded interviews
- Students will have gone through some Audacity tutorials and played around with Audacity, and have it installed on their computers
- Students will have Zoom recorders
- Students will complete a questionnaire about their self-assessed skill levels with the equipment and software, as well as their interest and experience with radio and/or podcasting.
- Focus on a specific form of radio journalism, i.e., the voicer, so students can put the instruction to practical use quickly and definitively.
- We will talk about other forms of radio journalism, but the voicer gives students the opportunity to use all the elements of the course instruction, while being relatively easy to produce.
- Their voicers can also be combined in a radio program.
- Rather than make the final MBC program a class project, we will use almost all of the class time to work on the voicers as final projects,
- Then, we will assemble the pMBC program in class so everyone can see and hear how it’s done.
- The class input to the MBC program will be choosing two hosts plus writing and directing the narration of the program
- Peter will act as producer… better serves journalism students by developing their skills in a more focused way and succeeding at producing a voicer.
Elements of a newscast
COPY – The news reader reading a script (20-35 seconds)
SCRIPT / CLIP – A short script and sound clip (30-45 seconds)
RANT – Only the reporter talking. They rely on their notes to create a script that tells the details of a story. (50 sec – 1:10 min)
ACTUALITY – Captured background sound that sets a scene.
VOICER – Your assignment. Telling a complete story with a script and clips, clearly and concisely in approx. 1 minute 30 seconds.
ROLES: Reporter gathers information and creates the story. The reporter also write an intro that the news reader reads. The producer ‘vets’ the story (reviews and improves the story). Nothing goes on air unvetted. There should always be a second set of ears and eyes.
Check your script
Is used primarily in longer current affairs pieces.
Talking to the source ahead to gain information before doing the actual interview.
It can also be called the research interview.
Do some research in advance. You need an understanding of the subject to know what kind of questions to ask.
The purpose of the pre-interview is to learn the story: who, what, where, when, how? But don’t ask ‘why’ just yet.
It is the place where you make sure your information is accurate, and the person and their role are correctly identified.
The purpose of the final interview is to get the guest to tell the story. That’s where the “why” question becomes central. ‘Why’ leads to motivation, reaction and emotion – the heart of the story.
Peter's Cheat Sheets
Writing For the Ear
Some rules to follow:
- One thought per sentence.
- Read it out loud – does it make sense? Did you stumble? A stumble almost always means the script needs a rewrite.
- Use your focus to tell your story in a limited amount of time.
There are three types of sentences.
- Simple Sentence: Peter threw the ball.
- Compound Sentence: Peter threw the ball and Shannon caught it.
- Complex Sentence: Peter threw the ball, hoping Shannon would catch it.
If you write a sentence that has a conjunction in the middle (and, but, if, etc.), then it is too long. Break it up.
If you have a sentence that triggers a second thought (hoping, then, because, etc), then make two sentences instead.
Don’t use a conjunction in the middle of a sentence. It indicates you are linking two thoughts. Avoid it at all costs.
Find an active verb that has action and direction to it.
Not: She was sick. (‘to be’ – a state of being – is the weakest verb in the English language).
But: She was lying on the floor coughing.
Active voice not passive
Active voice establishes accountability.
Example: Seven kindergartens were closed in 2022 (passive).
The Ministry of Education closed seven kindergartens (active).
Avoid unnecessary use of adjectives
Don’t use anything you wouldn’t say in conversation. Don’t write things that you wouldn’t say.
Example: You would not say, “I’m a Yellowknife man.” You would say, “I’m from Yellowknife.”
Avoid abbreviations, acronyms and jargon
The Chief initialed an MOU to establish an AIP.
Spell it out:
- Memorandum of Understanding
- Agreement in Principle
Every word has to count
Wrong: This happened back in 1985.
Right: This happened in 1985.
Wrong: This residence was a safe haven.
Right: This residence was a haven.
Wrong: close proximity, first ever (should be close, first)
Example: think outside the box
Don’t use tired phrases. Find a simple, clear different way to write it.