Rare & Scratchy Rock ‘N Roll
Blood, Sweat & Fun
By Ken Deutsch
Here’s a fun fact: Each episode of Rare & Scratchy Rock 'N Roll takes more than 50 hours to put together! And if each podcast is between 40 and 90 minutes, well you can do the math. (I sure don’t want to do the math!) In simple terms, here is our basic production flow, a process that involves several shows at once in various stages of production.
Choosing Program Themes
Radio Dave usually originates the show concepts, as each podcast has a unifying theme. However, suggestions frequently come from listeners around the world as well as our spouses, families and friends. Occasionally I’ll even contribute an idea!
Once RD the DJ has the idea for a show, he searches his music archives looking for the perfect records and stories to fit the topic. He owns hundreds of thousands of albums, singles, CDs and electronic files from which to choose, and he also has an extensive collection of books about music. Often he finds that information supplied by a source is inaccurate so he has to double-check every item to make sure that what goes into the final script is factual. (He’s also a "recovering" lawyer and former law school professor, so go figure!) Our crack staff of assistants, interns and hangers-on assist him in our modest, yet palatial basement penthouse offices.
From that point a script is written by Radio Dave, and he then sends it back to me to look over and make suggestions, some of which he actually uses. He also sends me WAV files of any music we need that is technically less than perfect. I own audio editing software (Izotope RX-6) that can remove scratches, clicks, pops and background noise from vinyl recordings. The name of our show is Rare & Scratchy Rock ‘N Roll but in truth, we want every song we play to sound as good as possible. I should mention that RD the DJ has two home recording studios at his disposal, one in Chicago and one here in Florida where I also reside. I have my own studio, which I’ll get to shortly. Thank goodness for the Internet which allows us to slide audio and scripts back and forth in cyberspace as we collaborate on each show.
Recording the Show
Now it’s time to give voice to our script, and that’s done in either of Radio Dave’s studios, depending on where he is that week. He reads his script into a microphone especially designed for podcasts, and Audacity, a software program for recording and editing audio.
Of course when anyone voices a script, there are good takes (which are kept) and bad takes (which are edited out). After this editing is completed on his computer, Radio Dave ships me his voice segments using a free online service called WeTransfer (www.wetransfer.com). I will then process them to make sure the voice is a consistent level throughout the show. And I also remove clicks and pops (like when someone says a “P” or a “B” sound too close to the mic). I then send the processed voice tracks back to Radio Dave and he adds the music montages, sound effects and jingles in the right spots.
Launching Each Show into Cyberspace
Even after all these steps we’re not through yet. When the full show is assembled it comes back to me one more time for any final tweaks. These could include making sure that each song clip sounds as loud in the left channel as the right, de-clicking a few additional records or any one of a number of other steps to get the show up our standards.
The final step is getting the show ready for the Internet in downloadable form. We first convert it from a WAV file to a 320 Kbps bit rate MP3, and then ultimately to a 128 Kbps bit rate MP3. But that’s still not all.
Each program must be encoded with “ID3” tags (metadata) which adds the title and detailed description to each show. These tags also add the Rare & Scratchy Rock ‘n Roll logo graphic and various other information that podcast directories require. Next, each program is uploaded to the Rare & Scratchy Rock ‘N Roll page at our RSS (really simple syndication) provider, Libsyn (www.libsyn.com) so it can be transmitted to the podcast directories that feature our show. This requires filling out additional information for Libsyn and adding the graphic logo again, a process that is similar to the “ID3” tagging mentioned above.
At last the show is good to go and the schedule for the RSS release worldwide is set. As R&SRNR continues to evolve we have adopted a schedule of uploading a new show on the 1st and 15th of every month.
But there's more (did you expect less?). On the day that each episode goes "live," we also update our web site, as well as post alerts on the R&SRNR Facebook page and dozens of Facebook music, radio, and related special interest groups to which we belong.
Playin’ What You’re Sayin’
Our show has now completed its journey from a few rough ideas scratched on notepads to a final show ready for downloading. We appreciate all our listeners and love to hear from you! You can e-mail us your comments, suggestions, lavish praise, and even criticisms (be gentle) to firstname.lastname@example.org.