New thoughts,
ready and waiting to explode.

Hey, look! Guest blogger for Orbit Media: Creating great audio interviews

Tuesday, January 12, 2016
In a rare misstep, the normally demanding and insightful Andy Crestodina has let one of my blog posts slip onto his Orbit Media Studios blog.

It begins like this:
Look around you.

On the street, on the bus, on the train. In the fitness center, on the running path, in the bike lanes…


… and, of course, in cars …

You’ll see more people than ever listening to things.

The irony for traditional broadcasting: Because those people have so many more choices, a smaller percentage are listening to what’s historically been considered radio.

That’s an opportunity for all other would-be audio creators. Including you.
Check it out: "Four Keys to Creating a Great Audio Interview."

The best replacement for Zite is ...

Sunday, January 3, 2016
My feature debut on Medium spotlights my choice to replace my all-time favorite iPhone app.

Check it out. And your suggestions on tweaking Nuzzel or for other apps that might do the job better are most welcome, here or on Medium.

Before it was Daywatch, I had other ideas

Wednesday, December 9, 2015
In November 1998, as I was getting ready to leave the radio news business to join the Chicago Tribune's then-new "breaking news" project, I was asked to brainstorm concepts for what eventually would become Daywatch -- a news blog before "blog" was a word, and, later, an email news briefing.

My suggestions to name the new project -- and my design for logos to match -- didn't make the cut.

But, mainly just because I recently stumbled across the images I mocked up back then, here they are anyway: proof I chose well by opting against a career as a graphic designer.


The idea was that the Tribune would bring you news in realtime -- you know, sort of like a broadcast from the Tribune over the Internet.

But this was before streaming video was a thing, and this idea went nowhere.

Tower Ticker

Back in 1998, the name "Tower Ticker" -- callback to a Tribune newspaper column of the past and to the wire machines that were going extinct around the same time -- drew snickers from some of the team.

But, ironically, it was eventually resurrected a decade later as the title of another blog: the home of Phil Rosenthal's media reporting.

And that's where, in 2011, Phil broke the news that I was leaving the Tribune to return to radio as news director at the Trib's then-sibling radio station, WGN.

Happily, although it doesn't look like this anymore, Daywatch lives on as a daily email from the Tribune. If you haven't subscribed, you should.

From the Excellence in Journalism convention: New tools, audio tips, delivery advice

Thursday, October 8, 2015
Notes from some great sessions at the Excellence in Journalism 2015 convention in Orlando, Fla. (To be cross-posted to the Rivet blog.)

From the great Al Tompkins at the Poynter Institute:
  • Ringr: "Lets you connect with virtually anyone on the planet, record your conversation, and instantly download it for editing, playback, and sharing. And the best part? The sound quality is amazing! In fact, unless you share your secret, no one will know the two of you weren't sitting right next to each other having a face-to-face chat."
  • PodClear: "Remote Interviews. Studio Quality Sound. … The simplest way to record your remote guests and cohosts with pristine audio quality. Separate lossless tracks for every guest and a mixed track for quick publishing."
  • An audio transcription tool called VoiceBase (50 hours of audio transcribed free). It's not perfect, but it's good enough to help search a big speech, debate, etc. to find cuts.
  • A list of other "cool new tools" for creating or editing Web content quickly. (Attached.)
New remote (video) smartphone reporting tools, recounted by Quinnipiac University Professor Mo Krochmal.

From audio wizard and NPR host Adam Ragusea (who's been a guest on Rivet), a wonderful presentation ( <— listen to that audio!) on Why you're doing audio levels wrong, and why it really does matter.

Ragusea's good recommendation for determining whether questionable audio will be intelligible for regular human beings: Layer in a clip of car noise or shower sound. If that masks the audio, your audio's not clear enough.

From talent coach Nick Dalley:
  • [Stop pronouncing] the "t"s at word endings rather than the ersatz "British" style of doing a glottal stop at the ends of words with final "t"s. "The presiden() sa() on his ha()." This instead of a nice little pop to articulate a "t" sound: "The president sat on his hat."
  • When it comes to pacing, if a mistake is made, too fast or too slow, I believe the typical mistake is going too fast. Hit the period and stop. Grab a little breath, then start the new sentence. Just a couple of pet peeves. 
  • For those who have trouble distinguishing "-ing" from "-een": Practice the phrase "ping pong." ("No one would ever say 'peen pong.'") Also: "Jean has seen beings sing. From Mr. Bean to Chandler Bing, their voices ring."
Broadcast delivery tips from University of Mississippi Professor Deb Wenger.

What is vocal fry?


Three secrets for writing and reading the way you talk

Monday, September 28, 2015
 [Prepared for a forthcoming installment in the Rivet blog.]

One of the toughest jobs in the world of audio and broadcasting is to sound like you're not reading. Even when you are.
But your goal should be to write something that, when read, doesn't sound like it was written and doesn't sound like it's being read. Because when you sound like someone talking about something you know instead of reading something that's written, you sound more credible and authentic.

Here are three keys to writing and reading conversationally:

1. Use contractions whenever you can. If it helps, run a find-and-replace to swap out (for instance) will for 'llis for 'sare for 're, would for 'd, etc.
2. Use pronouns whenever you can. That's the way we talk. Take a quiz.
3. Don't stress prepositions (of, by, for, in), conjunctions (and, butor articles (a, the). In musical terms, they're the grace notes of speech -- present, but just barely. Save your emphasis for nouns and verbs. (Exceptions: "... OF the people, BY the people, FOR the people.")

Bonus tip: The word "the" is pronounced thuh except when it appears before a word that begins with a vowel sound. (Thee elephant, thee NFL; but thuh cat, thuh president.) The word "a" is almost always pronounced uh. (Exceptions: For emphasis, as in "He's not just A man, he's THEE man.") Take a quiz.