• Listen Like an Engineer

    Editor’s note: Welcome to “Ask the Engineer.” This is the first of an occasional series of technical advice columns from Rob Byers, sound engineer, loudness advocate, and technical coordinator for American Public Media. You can meet Roband sign up for a private, 30-minute consultation about your gear or softwareat the AIR booth at the Third Coast Conference. On-site sign-up is first come, first served.

  • Public Media Scan: All Interactive


    This week's Public Media Scan was all about interactive projects so well-crafted that they could become the scaffolding for other ideas. Here are three interactive sites that set me dreaming: 

    'A City Now Largely Lost.' The NYPL Labs' "Building Inspector" asks citizen cartographers to unearth old New York from their desks. Diverting, simple, useful.

  • From the Archive: Independent for $60K a Year

    Editor’s note:"From AIR's Archive" brings forward some of the lost (or long-buried) profiles and advice about audiocraft that we've collected over the years. Robin White, the founder of Radio College, wrote this advice about an entrepreneurial approach to independent production. This story, published as "How to Make $60K a Year Freelancing in Public Radio," is one of the most-read pieces of advice we’ve ever published. 

    by Robin White

    My search for a way to make a living as a journalist in, or around, radio has led to some depressing side trips over the years. As many producers do, I did some writing for guided museum tours. The low point came a couple of years ago when I was standing in a museum on the West Coast with Fluffy, the creative director of the audio company, screaming in my ear. "Fluffy" is not her real name.

  • Public Media Scan: Love & ghost stories

    You know the Scan: three items at the intersection of of tech, journalism, and media craftsmanship, with an eye toward delight.

    This week was heavy on the delight.

    No one at AIRster HQ could quit clicking through "The And," answering questions and watching a new one-minute documentary every few minutes. ("It's like the opening of 'When Harry Met Sally,'" Bec Feldhaus Adams said.) For me, the fun was in the puzzle of what's going on backstage -- how was each clip tagged, how did the clips relate to the answers on the quiz, how did it work

    Glynn Washington, on the other hand, is delight from the opposite direction: a master performer breaking down the elements of an art form. (Fair warning: the gifs that accompany his ghost storytelling primer are pretty intense.)

  • From the Archive: Creating SFX

    Editor's note: "From AIR's Archive" brings forward some of the lost (or long-buried) profiles and advice about audiocraft that we've collected over the years. This advice about creating audio special effects was first offered in 2006. 

    by Jerry Stearns

    Sound conveys meaning. Sound stimulates visual images in our minds. Radio theater/ audio theater is telling a story by the careful mixing of sounds - both verbal and non-verbal. Radio is a hot medium, that is, the listener's imagination and experience are involved in giving the story depth, substance and meaning.

    Sound effects can be used for such things as setting and place, conveying action, solving certain narrative problems, and evoking characterizations.

    In radio theater we have four objects to work with: