Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What goes into an overnight turn-around . . .

Former President and Mrs. Carter have come, spoken, and gone. And it was my job to do a short distillation of what Mr. Carter said for Morning Edition. So, about 5:30 p.m. on Monday afternoon, draped in press credentials, loaded down with equipment, I headed over to JMU's Convocation Center to set up.

This was a pretty straight-forward reporting situation. We had a mult-box (short for what? multi-function box? multi-purpose box? anyone else know?). This meant I could simply run a cord from my recorder directly into the sound system and be assured of having good sound quality. (Except that this hook-up developed a slight hum, which, sadly, no one could get rid of.)

So, anyway, by 6 o'clock, I had run my cord, plugged in, tested the connection, and sat myself down to spend a pleasant hour chatting with my fellow reporters (Channel 29 on my right, Staunton News-Leader on my left).

The ceremony began promptly at 7 with a procession, followed by introductory speeches, and several lovely songs. About 7:45, the Carter's were presented with the Mahatma Gandhi Global Nonviolence Award. Then it was time for Mr. Carter's speech, and so time for me to go to work logging tape. This involves keeping my headset firmly on my head and staring at the counter on my recorder so that I can take accurate notes about when Mr. Carter said what. Doing this meant that once I got back to the station, I could pull the sections of his speech I wished to use without having to go back and listen to the whole speech again.

Once the speech was over, I sat in traffic like everyone else, glad that I'd remembered to stick a water bottle in the car. Logging tape is thirsty work.

Back at the station, I pulled my actualities (the parts of the speech I want to include in the story), wrote my script, voiced my script in the studio, and then transferred both the actualities and the pieces of script (call trax) into Adobe Audition (sound-editing software) multi-track file on my computer. Then it was just a matter of fiddling around with placement, fading in and out, and adjusting levels. Around midnight, I pressed the magic mixing icon on my computer and voila! a story emerged.

I love these overnights. I have to focus, push myself, battle fatigue, and just keep going until I'm done. Of course, I probably wouldn't love them as much if I had to do them all the time.

By the way, if you couldn't hear President Carter in person last night, I posted his entire speech at WMRA.org.

There! It's 12:53 Tuesday morning and I'm going home.


  1. Thanks for sharing the process. Very interesting! :)

    I listened to your recording of the speech this morning.

  2. Very cool. It sounds really complicated! Not to mention all the good judgment and creative energy it must take! I probably wouldn't have made it to bed period, let alone have written a blog post about it. Congrats. I'm headed over to WMRA to hear your reporting . . . .

  3. The 'mult' in mult-box would be short, most likely, for 'multiple output'. The hum was probably a ground loop, from one of the cables plugged into the box not being balanced.

  4. Dan is right of course, but there also might have been an oscillating fundernator on the epicene glottal magnet. In other words, I didn't know any of that stuff you wrote about, and learned a lot.