Ask the Engineer: Fix Your Phone Tape

Rob Byers with enormous micEditor’s note: Welcome to “Ask the Engineer,” an occasional series of technical advice columns from Rob Byers, sound engineer, loudness advocate, and technical coordinator for American Public Media. Thanks to Erik Stromstad at American Public Media for help with this column.

By Rob Byers

Phone tape can be a real pain when it comes to audio quality, but it’s so useful that it’s a necessary evil. So here’s the quick and simple way to improve the sound of your phone recordings: filters.

But before we get into how to use these handy tools (ones you already have!) there are a few things you need to know about why phone tape needs special handling.

Public Media Scan: Problem-solving

Step one of solving a problem? Spotting a problem.

Take the first item in this week's Scan, which tackles a very basic problem with podcasting: We don't know how many people are actually listening.

Without that number (or without a consistent standard for what a "popular" podcast is), advertisers, underwriters and trendspotter can't accurately compare one show to another -- or begin to understand how the digital/mobile/time-shifting audience fits into the larger universe of media.

Take a look, give it a think, enjoy:

• Listeners ≠ Downloads. Pete Davies reminds everyone why podcast metrics are a mess right now. Who's sorting this out?

From the Archive: Too-intimate tape?

From AIR's Archive logoEditor’s note: From time to time, we have all encountered powerful, well-produced radio works that leave us wondering: Am I grateful to have heard that program? Should that report have been broadcast? Even if the head says yes, the heart and gut may not. Are some pieces better left undone? These are a few of the questions asked by longtime producer Alex van Oss.

This criticism of WNYC’s “The Execution Tapes” and Lu Olkowski’s “Grandpa,” and responses from Olkowski and Gary Covino, the co-producer of “The Execution Tapes,” was first published as “The Fine Art of the Wee Pause” in the March 2009 AIRblast.