Over the next couple months, leading up the premiere of BGA’s newest production, “On The Table,” I’ll be writing about the process of creating a brand new show from scratch.
This isn’t a simple matter of hooking up a microphone to my computer and grabbing an hour of quiet time to make a podcast. No, I’m going to be doing a radio show instead.
Podcast Pros & Radio Cons
There are a lot of differences between producing a radio show and producing a podcast. What a podcast has going for it is freedom, complete, unexpurgated freedom. You can say what you want, when you want to and with whatever tech you have at your disposal.
With a radio show, I’ll have to follow station guidelines and FCC regulations with every word I speak. I’m hopeful that won’t be too hard. At least I have a background in public speaking, so I’m used to watching what I say.
And my schedule is going to be regulated to. The broadcast will have a specific time to air, and, more limiting, there is a specific time when the studio will be available to use for recording.
So then, what’s the advantage to doing a radio show? One word: Tech. Okay, maybe three words: Lots of Tech! Yeah, I’ll have at my disposal an array of audio toys that 99% of podcasters can only dream of owning. Tech will make it much easier to edit and to upload each episode when I’m done recording.
But for me, the only piece of tech that I’ll be excited about when I walk into the radio station is that gigantic overhead mic with the fuzzy sock over it. Everything else just looks like Christmas lights to me.
Even though I’m ending up with a radio show, I had actually started out wanting to spin off a podcast. In fact, I’d been talking with my BGA mates about doing my own podcast for well over a year now, and they would just nod their heads and smile in that patronizing way that said “Sure, Drew, sure….”
I recorded a demo episode a number of times but it never sounded as good as I wanted it to, or as free of outside distractions as it should have been. I even tried creating my own mini-studio. I bought a Snowball from Blue Microphones, and a Harlan Hogan Port-a-booth to give the Snowball a sound-dampened hideaway.
But living in New York City with a mini-menagerie of dogs and cats, it just didn’t happen. My work allowed me to stay at home all day, but then so did they.
It took a move to Vermont to give me renewed purpose and a new focus. Living in a small town makes everything more accessible: shopping, culture … and broadcast facilities. (Don’t let me get started on local cable access….that’s for another day…).
Bennington’s radio station, WBTN-AM, is publicly funded. So, it’s always on the lookout for local residents who’d like to create and host shows. I got in touch with Spencer, the general manager, and we began a protracted dialogue that eventually booked me a spot in the station’s fall schedule. “On The Table” premieres Friday, November 3rd.
I still plan on using the Snowball and my little Harlan Hogan box, but I’ll try them out at the local game store instead. I’m interested in recording instant reactions to games from the players themselves. I think getting spur-of-the-moment thoughts about game experiences will be more interesting to listeners than me overthinking while trying to craft a review.
Future blog posts
Next week I’ll write about the show’s concept and how it evolved. In future posts, I’ll lay out the show’s format, and then take you behind the scenes of how the radio show is being put together. Soon, I’ll start training to become my own engineer, so I’ll walk you through that, too, when the time comes.