Saturday, November 10, 2007

Rock Radio

I won a competition! (Stick with me... we'll get to the educational computing bit soon.) It was a stunningly good prize and included a year's supply of Elixir Strings and a custom built guitar from Bailey Guitars. A truly stunning prize.

I also got to hang out for a while at Rock Radio which was also great. (See my set of pictures to get a flavour of what went on.) I thoroughly enjoyed the visit, but with my education hat on, I couldn't help but notice the technology behind the production of the radio programmes. There was the stuff that's obvious, like the web site and the internet stream of the radio, but there was other stuff that was interesting too. For example, I think it's interesting that the presenters all have blogs (see for example Kieron's blog and the entry where he describes the prize I won). At the moment, there's not very many comments on the blog but I like that they are doing it.

I also saw the studio where they create adverts and other stuff where there was a huge collection of digital sound effects on CD(ROM?) - things have come a long way from the BBC Sound Effects albums of my youth. The Computing bit that really caught my attention though was that the voice artists don't have to come into the studio. Apparently there is some sort of line into the studio (details were vague but we were told it's a bit like an ISDN line) that allows them to "phone" in their work at full broadcast quality. Interesting... and something I want to find out more about.

Finally, and the bit I thought was most fascinating was the way the programmes are put together. No faffing about with CDs and tape carts during the broadcast... everything was digitised and the complete running order was shown on the computer screen: music, links, adverts, everything... it's all there. But you are not locked into this list, it is possible to alter the programme even while the show is on air. For example, I watched Tom Russell take out one link between tracks and substitute another. So while the track was still playing, the link that would follow it was changed. The track finished a few minutes later and the show continued, with the new link, without a blip. Brilliant! I really want to know more about the technology behind that!

I came away with a great prize (thank you Kieron, Rock Radio, Bailey Guitars and Elixir Strings) but I also came away thinking about the computing technology behind radio production and wondering if there is a case study for schools Computing in Rock Radio? I wonder if they allow school visits? I wonder if I'll be organised enough to do more than wonder? :-)

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N Winton said...

Well done! Though by my reckoning, they've actually given you a 12 year supply of Elixer strings!

Were you at the Foo Fighters gig last Friday?

David said...

That's what all Daughter Number 2's friend's said too. :-)

I would have loved to be at the Foo Fighters gig... in fact there were a whole pile last week - the Dio version of Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper and Motorhead and I would even have considered Biffy Clyro... but Daughter Number 1 is at university and costing more than ever and I am extraordinarily bad at managing finances. This means that gig attendance is severely restricted. :-(