Recording audio stories Questions/interviews Venues Ambient sound and actuality Narrative style Broadcast language
I am open to questions
Colleen Murrell (Johnson) Tools: Google, Facebook, Friends Reunited Results: Education (websites for City U, Deakin U and Melbourne U); Work (websites for BBC, ITN, CBC, TF1, APTN); married status; approximate age; children; photo; hobbies; newspaper articles; journal articles; latest entries about podcasting; research; Erasmus Mundus Fellowship.
Closed versus Open Questions CLOSED What’s your name? Where are you from? What do you do? Why are you here? Are you sacking workers at this factory? OPEN Can you explain how your initiative can help these people? Why do you think people are complaining about your product? Why are you sacking workers at this factory? (Who, what, why, when, where and how)
Why interview? To elicit information (primary sources) To get information from the horse’s mouth To give different sides to a story (balance) To give context to a story To personalise/humanise a story To get ‘actuality’ - to make it radio!
Who makes a good interviewee? Proximity to story/relevance Somebody on phone or in person (close by) Somebody with an interesting voice Somebody who can tell a good yarn/anecdotes Or somebody who can summarise Beware the ‘usual suspects’ Make sure this person is representative Balance with another of different beliefs
Interview preparation Do your research Talk beforehand Will you reveal questions? Remind experts re “layman’s language” Tell them you are recording (Law requires) Put the person at ease Make sure the area is quiet, turn phones off Check your equipment Say you can stop anytime Ask to sum up “Please be more succinct” Ask open questions Don’t “um” and “ah” Check recording What next? Have I missed anything? Check contact details.
Styles of interviews Serious/earnest (BBC Radio 4/W-Service) Confrontational (Traditional hard news - BBC Newsnight, Commercial Radio) Confessional (soft news/feature) Youth current affairs (colloquial, easy- going, disarming - BBC Five Live) Play examples ***
Confrontational - questions Who had access to these documents? Are they accurate? Are the quotes accurate? Have you looked at them? I am not asking you to speculate … Have you called for them and looked at them…?
Confessional - questions Can you explain the intensity of this feeling? Can you tell us about the reluctance? Explain what you were doing with the video diary? Can you tell us about that decision-making process? How long did you keep up contact with your baby after her death? What was important for you and what were some of the feelings that you went through?
Good quality sound Hold microphone a hand-span from face Find a quiet spot Remember to turn off phones, computers Keep moving microphone between you & interviewee Make use of ambient sound [Flickr Image by Ghindo]
Natural Sound To start package - theme tune, rail announcement, birds singing, people chattering, restaurant noises -- fade out Music - need to check copyright. If too loud, can be distracting Narration - try and record in a similar sounding ambience to place where interviews are done *** Play Examples ***
How is the narrative being told? 1) Radio news style (not print pyramid - but an unfolding story with interviews included) 2) Do the main characters tell the story with/without a narrator? (NB ‘Australian Story’) 3) A lead into an extended interview “I have here with me today…” 4) Quirky? It can be more interesting to play with the traditional format
Broadcast writing Conversational - informal Short tenses, with abbreviations - won’t, can’t, hasn’t Present tense where possible, or imperfect - “The author is talking about her book today…” Latest information first - if news Your script should show what you actually say (two-hundred-and thirty; R-double A-F) Names - John Smith, and then John or Smith, depending on house style, but rarely both
Broadcast writing Be brief and to the point - simple constructions Sound interested - remember you are telling a story and reading out loud. Need to practice. Speak clearly - don’t swallow consonants Sibilance and the popping “p” Get the emphasis right Tone - strive for authoritative but natural 3 words = one second - don’t run out of puff… Typical news story between 30” and 1-20”; current affairs story = 3-30”
TONE “People are very good at absorbing the subliminal messages from tones of voice, and the radio voice is never neutral. Even the apparently neutral tones of the radio newsreader are deployed quite deliberately for specific effect, namely to convey credibility, authority, and impartiality. Similarly, radio broadcasters can, by the tiniest inflection, suggest humour, compassion, or sorrow; they can make us laugh or cause us to reflect.” (Phillips & Lindgren, Australian broadcast manual, p36).
PAUSE “Never underestimate the power of the pause. Too many presenters feel nervous about dead air, but it can be a friend as well as a foe. ‘Pausing’ is a very important device in conveying meaning. Just as stress is used to highlight keywords, so pauses are used to draw the listeners’ attention – signalling a detail that requires special emphasis, or a break between one item and another..” (Phillips et al p37)
PACE * “When we are excited about something we usually speak faster, so when listeners hear us speaking quickly on air they may unconsciously think to themselves – ‘this must be an important exciting thing being talked about’… * When we speak slowly it can sometimes mean that we are considering what we are saying, so slow speech may connote thoughtfulness. But slow speech can also connote boredom in listeners’ minds – if they think that we are bored with the topic that we are talking about they will probably find it boring too, and switch off”. (Sue Aherne, P 74)
Examples of scripts and stories Authoritative Also Youth podcasts try Audio stories (without scripts)
1130 am (Take 1) A plane carrying more than two-hundred passengers is missing off the South Australian coast. The Continental Airways Seven-Four-Seven was en route from London to Melbourne, after re-fuelling in Perth this morning. According to Air Traffic Control in Adelaide, the last radio contact was at eleven A-M, shortly before the plane disappeared from radar. (20 secs)
1200 midday (Take two) A search is underway off the South Australian coast for a missing plane, carrying more than two hundred and thirty people. Two Air Force jets and one Hercules are currently flying over the Great Australian Bight, south of Adelaide. According to Air Traffic Control the Continental Airways plane last made contact at eleven-a.m., and disappeared from radar screens shortly after. The plane was en route from London’s Gatwick Airport to Melbourne via Perth. (25 secs)
1230 (Take Three) There are unconfirmed reports that Hollywood star Clint Jackson may be among the passengers on a Continental Airways flight missing off the South Australian coast. More than two-hundred-and-thirty people are on board the plane, which was en route from London to Melbourne via Perth. Air force jets are currently trying to locate the plane over the Great Australian Bight, south of Adelaide. (22 secs)