Saturday, 15 February 2014

Thursday Night's Workspace

I have been meaning to post this information for some time, but I just couldn't find a spot to squeeze it in. I am pretty grateful for GM Jared and PD Mike for their efforts in helping us craft a solid little radio niche for both my and Beans' thoughts on the game of hockey. So tonight, I'd like to pull back the curtains on the whole setup and show you where we work at the University of Manitoba on Thursday nights.

The actual studio is pretty basic, but it's home on Thursdays. We have six microphones for a host and up to five guests, so musical groups can be brought in for interviews with all band members and large roundtable discussions can be had with a panel of guests. There is a small note on Microphone #5 right now because Microphone #5 is a little under the weather. GM Jared is working on curing Microphone #5, and it appears that it will be back on the air shortly.

There is a telephone, so we can have call-in segments with guests via phone. We can take calls from fans and receive music requests from listeners when offered. There is an iPod connection for those who want to use an iPod for their musical choices, and there is a line-in option for those who carry their music and sound clips via laptop, tablet, or other device.

Also seen, there's a computer set up in the studio as well. The monitor on the lower-left is the everyday computer with internet access the most hosts will use for checking Twitter, Facebook, the internet in general, email and any other web-based application. We use it to check Twitter as we're on the air, for example.

The monitor on the upper-right, however, is a little different. This connects to the preloaded songs, commercials, and PSAs that are programmed for the day's broadcast. If, for example, someone pre-records a show for the day's broadcast, Jared or Mike will load it into this program where it can be played at its suitable time. If someone misses a show due to circumstances outside their control, songs that fit the show's theme and playlists will be loaded to play in the show's absence. Finally, any and all commercials and PSAs that the station uses will also be loaded in and played throughout the day at their required times. In short, this computer could run the station's broadcasting day on "auto-play" if there was some need.

Below that monitor on the upper-right is the CD sound system with two CD players in case there are those who prefer the plastic-disc method of music to the digital format. We actually still receive a vast quantity of the music found on the station via compact disc, but the numbers are slowly shifting to the digital format thanks to the ease of sending the files and the speed in which they can be accessed. Attached to the CD sound system is a DVD drive so that some of the shows about films can use clips from those movies.

Speaking of CDs, here is the New Release Wall inside the studio. That sits just behind the control board to the back left of where I shot the photo. And directly behind the director's chair is the turntable station where those with vinyl can spin their tracks directly to the air. It's a pretty cool little setup, I must admit.

Everything we do runs off the sound board from which the microphones and the add-ons are controlled. Yes, I know "sound board" isn't a technical term, but it's what I'm calling it and it suits what we need to do: make sound that can be broadcast. The microphone controls are on the left, the CD stations are next to the right followed by the main show log computer connections. To the right of that are the computer and line-in connections, and the phone is to the very right on its own.

The blue button is the "auto-play" button - hit it, and it auto-plays the next item on the upper-right monitor. Technically, that's the manual "seven-second delay" if someone's chatter might get us in trouble. While we've never used it on The Hockey Show, it has been used by other hosts on other shows. For a number of reasons.

Outside the studio, it's pretty much a storage facility for all of the music we've received in CD form over the years. Station volunteers are welcome to use any of the music found in the library on their shows, and volunteers can sign out a CD if they like for their personal use. In the back right behind the shelves, there are listening stations set up for listening to CDs and there is a staple of the success of the radio station on the right in the coffee maker. Beside the coffee maker is a microwave, so GM Jared and PD Mike basically have what they need to survive a day at the station. Further past the coffee maker and microwave is the door into the station.

Turning 45-degrees to the right from that view, we have the volunteer computer stations. This is where a lot of updating happens for blogs, Facebook accounts, and Twitter feeds. It's also where the volunteer coordinator logs an exceptional amount of time. Amanda works diligently to ensure that all of the volunteers are kept in the loop regarding what may be happening with shows, and she runs most of her training sessions from this station. Joining her shortly will be a marketing and sales employee as the station looks to increase its footprint on the radio market, so the computer to the right will be occupied by this new person most days. The window looks in on the studio, and the thermostat on the left of the wall is, well, a thermostat.

Directly to the right of the volunteer computer station is Program Director Michael's desk. And 180-degrees from the volunteer computer station is General Manager Jared's desk. I didn't take photos of these simply because these are their personal workspaces as the two full-time employees of the station, and I respect their privacy. They're good dudes.

Turning 45-degrees to the right again will lead you into the Auxiliary Production Room. This is basically just a smaller version of the main studio without the auto-play computer. In here, this is where most hosts will record non-live interviews, commercial spots, PSAs, and do editing of their shows for podcast purposes. Hosts also can pre-record shows in here that can be saved for a future date. The Production Room literally is the place where the glue is made that holds the station's various components together!

So there's a quick tour of where we do The Hockey Show on Thursday nights. It's a pretty cool place to work/volunteer, and everyone really has a passion for it. If you have any questions, feel free to ask because doing radio is a lot of fun, and I'd be happy to give you any tips I've learned along the way!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

1 comment:

falcone said...

Dude, I had no idea you were blogging out of Manitoba, let alone hosting a show on UMFM. I work in an office at the University and am usually in UC everyday after work. Will keep an ear out for the show!

Great post on the Seals btw