technical idea for improving audio: double ender
Some of the phone interviews (in this program and elsewhere) have had pretty bad sound quality. For a weekly program there are new possibilities. It would be feasible to mail an mp3 recorder with a headset microphone to the interviewee to simultaneously record her answers to the device while she’s on the phone with DJ. When done she can plug the unit into a computer and email the file to CFI, then return the unit with a provided label (or even send it on to the next guest).
It would be important to pick a recorder that is small, easy to operate, ideally one that has a preset (eg 80kbps/mono/44.1khz) and auto gain control. The interviewee would get simple instructions over the phone (turn unit on, press record, can you see the record icon illuminated, is the counter advancing, are levels being displayed?)
If you have two units you’d be covered. Of course you’d need a budget for postage (say for 30 phone interviews/year, on average $20 (USPS express mail to recipient, return via USPS priority) = $600. The recorders range in price from $100-300.
Patching a “double ender” together is pretty easy in the studio (=on the computer), with a little practice this process takes about 1.5 times real time or less.
Bad audio is an real issue especially if the show is intended for the internet where compression and the fact that the audience listens mostly via (acoustically unforgiving) headphones will seriously compromise intelligibility.
But there’s yet another very simple measure: test the phone quality prior to going live. With some voices the speaker may need to move the mouth away from the phone, or it may be necessary to cover the receiver with a Kleenex (held by rubber bands). Simple measures can make all the difference.