Most of us KOOP folks haven’t been inside the KOOP studios in almost a year. But because you and the entire community depend on us, we simply couldn’t let Covid-19 keep us from broadcasting. So we all learned how to do “homemade radio” for you!
When the station had to close, the challenges for programmers became apparent immediately, and fell into three broad categories …
Technical: Some programmers had been producing parts of their shows at home already … pre-recording interviews, for example. They already had microphones, audio mixers, and sometimes even sound baffles in their home “studios.” But other programmers rely on the built-in audio capabilities of their computers, and in many cases that works out fine. The other key technical requirements are fast internet and full-featured editing software. Fortunately, in Austin most broadband services are adequate, and some very good editing software is free! Once the shows are produced, programmers upload them from their computers into KOOP’s automated program-play system for sequencing on the scheduled broadcast day.
Operational: When the station closed, live broadcasting closed with it … we currently pre-record all programs. For programmers who invite guests, pre-recording allows us to schedule them at their preferred times, via Zoom for example. Geography and travel to KOOP are not issues, and time zones are easily managed. Tim Macatee, who hosts Nobody’s Happy Hour, says one of his homemade radio challenges is “finding alone time to record. My son is always around and noisy, so he ends up necessitating some re-recording. Once I recorded a break in my backyard so I could watch the kid.” A challenge for news / public affairs programmers (I am one) is that there usually is a gap of several days between the pre-record date and the air date. So if news breaks during the gap, it’s simply too late … maybe we report and discuss it on the show’s next edition.
Emotional: Most of us miss the spontaneity of live radio and the direct in-person interaction with each other and with in-studio guests. Says Tim Macatee, “The biggest thing I miss about being in the studio is being involved in the music as you are playing it. At home you are just inserting songs in a file which kind of takes away from the pleasure of a show, but I always enjoy it when it airs. And recording at home means you can snack and drink if you want.”
The good news is the sound and spirit of KOOP prevail! The shows must go on, and so they shall. Homemade radio rocks!
– Michael A. Brown, producer and co-host of Boots On The Air (airing 2nd Mondays on Reflections of Community Outreach)