By Martin Dawson (Retired Minister in Cornwall, PEI)
Submitted by Martin Dawson
As many of the people connected to UCRMN know, I am an enthusiast of old-time radio programs, which makes me very interested in the use for audio for church purposes. Recently, I have been working with a rural minister in the recording and editing of a “Lenten Journey” series of podcasts for folks to listen to while going out for an outdoor walk. Last year, I recorded a Lenten study on the use of proverbs based and the wise sayings of the Biblical “Book of Proverbs” and other wisdom literature. Indeed, last month I supervised the recording and editing of my old-time radio style adaptation of Jane Austen’s, “Northanger Abbey” novel for the Jane Austen Society of North America’s Nova Scotia and New Brunswick regions. Last year, a similar recording of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” was done with the seniors of my community here on PEI. Thus, I have leaned a lot from trial and error……lots of error! Still, the process and the final results are very rewarding for the participants, as a community-builder exercise, and to the listeners, as entertainment and education. So, I will endeavour to pass some of that knowledge to you that could be helpful.
Equipment and Recording
The equipment needed does not need to be overly expensive or complicated. A smartphone has the ability to record through its microphone and to save the recording on the phone or an micro SD card that some phones allow to be used. Presently, I use a Yeti Nano microphone that just plugs into my laptop computer. It can record in all directions, so the readers or the guest can be picked up if they just sit around the microphone with the host. I use a microphone stand with an extending arm to get the microphone out of the way and equidistant from the voices involved. This configuration is simple and works well for a face to face recording. However, with the isolation problems of Covid 19, I have used a different set-up. Firstly, all the people involved are connected through Zoom or some other video conference tool. I use “Jitsi Meet” often, as it is free with no time limits. All the cameras are then asked to be turned off, so that the internet will only have to deal with the audio of the recording. Next I ask each person to talk to check their sound level, making sure that everyone is close to their microphone. The use of a headset with a microphone built-in makes for a smoother recording, should you move your head around or turn away. I then start up a software program (free of course) called, OBS (Opens Broadcasting Software). With this program you can record all the audio that comes through your laptop’s speakers. Be sure that only the necessary speakers’ microphones are turned on and the others’ are muted until it is their time to speak. You can eliminate a lot of editing by enforcing this idea. Stop the recording when done and save the file.
Editing and Distribution
You can then import this file into the free software program called, “Audacity”. From here you can eliminate any faults, increase or decrease volumes, and add sound effects. I use the free BBC Sound Effects that you can download online. Music can also be added, but beware of copyright problems. There are free music downloads available, e.g. “bensound”, etc. Of course there are sites that have “paid” versions of sound effects and music downloads. Better yet, make your own! It is not that hard. Old-time radio did this “live” on air with a table full of items. Finally, after you are finished editing, you can save it all in MP3 format and upload it to “Google Drive” or “Soundcloud” etc. and share the link with others.
In the end, be sure that you make it a pleasing activity for everyone involved.
Martin Dawson (retired in Cornwall PEI)