Let's say you've been given the privilege of producing a show on KPFZ and you need to learn how to do it. This document attempts a first approximation of a few of the technical things you'll need to learn in order to accomplish that. It isn't comprehensive, just a first stab.
KPFZ is licensed as a nonprofit radio station. That means that we don't charge money for advertisements per se, but we do ask for donations. Most importantly, as a producer or announcer, you cannot sell any products on the air. You can tell people about local businesses you've frequented, but you CANNOT accept any gifts from them of any kind which anybody might conceivably imagine may be connected to your advocacy or mention of them.
Since we're in the United States, you cannot cuss on the radio. This means you cannot say or allow to be said on the radio words or phrases considered by the FCC to be Obscene or Indecent or Profane (whatever that means).
If you require more detailed guidance on this issue, there are seven English-language words that American comedian George Carlin first listed in 1972 in his monologue "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television". The words are: shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits. If you need further guidance than this, consult the Station Production Manager.Here is a brief list of what you see above, beginning on the left.
The underwriter's schedule binder. The white binder is a book of underwriter spots. An underwriter is an organization or company who wants to give a message about themselves read on the air. These messages are similar to advertisements but we don't call them that because of the weird rules the FCC has about listener supported radio stations. The spots are these messages. You should play at least one of them every hour, usually towards the beginning of the hour. The first page of this book has a list of which spot ought to be played at which time each day during the week. Look up your date and timeslot to see which CD you should play. Then, the CDs are in the book in alphabetical order. It is likely that you'll find that the CD to be played in the hour before your show is already still in CD 3 (or 1 or 2). Take it out and put it back in its proper slot in the book, find your own and put it in CD 1, 2 or 3 and play it or another one shortly after your show begins and near the beginning of every hour thereafter.
Your stuff. When you arrive and sit in the chair before the board, you can place your stuff on the left, next to the stuff belonging to whoever forgot to remove their stuff the last time they were there. Hint.
Phone. You can answer it 2 ways. It rings silently. There are two big orange lights on the right at the bottom of the console which will blink when you can answer the phone. You can either pick up the receiver, or, if you'd like the person to be on the air, follow the instructions below, instead.
Main Board. This is where you decide what sounds are allowed to be transmitted over the radio. This is accomplished by "bringing up pots". The sliding controls you see before you are technically called Potentiometers and if you're sitting in the chair (rather than hunched over the table from the other side) then "up" is the direction you would move one of them to specify that the sound source associated with that control should, indeed, be transmitted (move the control away from you to get louder). Conversely, pulling it toward you or "Down" will quiet or turn off that sound source. Once you bring a pot all the way down (towards you), be gentle; if you continue to pull, it will click on a "detent" which is a separate setting allowing you to cue that channel. More on this later.
The red button is a shortcut for turning it off and the yellow or white button above that next to each slider (or "Pot") is a shortcut for turning it back on although in addition to that, you also have to move the pot up. More on all this later also
Microphone. It is NOT necessary to speak closely to the microphone. In fact, if you speak in a normal tone of voice to be heard by someone in the room and you keep your mouth approximately 8-12 inches away from the microphone, you're likely to have best results. The way to tell is to watch the orange LED bargraph display at the top of the console. If voice peaks go into the red, then you're doing it right. Note that usually, going into the red is a bad thing; not here. There's a good reason for this which I'll explain below.
Computer Display. The microsoft windows computer records shows and plays shows such as National Public Radio programs when nobody is scheduled to be in the studio. Output from the computer is on Pot #17, labelled, "CPU 1".
Console. This is the word I personally use to describe all of the equipment in the vertical rack located immediately to the right of the main board and to the left of the two turntables. This rack contains, from top to bottom:
A modulation Monitor (Innovonics brand) used by you to verify that sound is actually being transmitted up to the mountain to go out over the air. You can tell this sound is happening by the movement of the orange LED bargraph indicator at the top on the left. That's all you care about this device. If you don't see this bargraph moving, then NOTHING IS BEING TRANSMITTED AND THAT IS A BAD THING. ALWAYS make sure Something (preferably something interesting) is playing on the air.
Below the modulation monitor is a device labelled, Tascam CD-200 and also labelled CD3. This corresponds to the pot on the main board labelled CD3. If you put a CD into this tray and get it to play and "pot up" CD3 on the board, then that CD will play over the air.
Immediately below CD3 is a white panel labelled, "Gentner" which is a hybrid phone patch. This is the thing that allows people who call in to have their voice on the air, either on line 1 (labelled Phone 1) or line 2 (labelled, Phone 2) or both (or neither). There are 2 steps to get someone's voice on the air. The first step is always to answer the phone by clicking on either the phone 1 ON buotton (or the phone 2 ON button) and the second step is to Pot up Phone 1 or Phone 2 on the main board. When the person on the phone hangs up, you have to reverse BOTH steps; that is, when getting off the phone, you have to pot down phone 1 or phone 2 AND ALSO press the OFF button on the phone patch next to whichever line you want to hang up.
Next there are a pair of Tascam CD-500 CD players labelled, CD1 and CD2, corresponding to the pots on the board with such labels.
Below CD2 are a pair of audio cassette tape decks, "TAPE1" and "tape2"
Below the tape decks are the pair of Incoming Phone Call lights mentioned above.
Headphones. You can wear these or bring your own and remember to plug these when you leave. You need these for queing up sounds (explained below) and for talking on the phone.
Below and to the right of the second phonograph (Turntable) is an Optomod Audio Processor which makes it unnecessary for you to twiddle the pots too much. Basically, you use the pots on the main board to choose the relative volumes of different sound sources in relation to each other and this device automagically adjusts the final output so that it is always the right volume, even if you've got pots turned down to low or up too high.
On the main board, as previously mentioned, there are 18 sliding potentiometers, hereinafter referred to as pots, which control the amount of audio of each of 18 different sources or channels. Below each pot are 2 buttons, the red one is a shortcut for turning it off and the yellow or white one is a shortcut for turning it back on, if you used the red button to turn it off. So that means that in order for -say, for example- the micrphone in front of your face to be the source of noise going out over the air, you must move the MIC1 pot up to somewhere around the top 25% of its available movement. It isn't important exactly where it is because this station uses an audio processor to adjust the audio so it is not too loud.
If you pull one of those pots all the way down, you'll notice a click or "detent" and -if you're wearing the headphones plugged into the mixing board, you'll hear ONLY that channel and NO OTHER while any pot is pulled all the way down into it's clicked position, even as other content is transmitted. This is called, "Cue-ing". It allows you to hear what's happening on the specified channel even as something else is playing on the air. This is the mechanism you use for "cuing up" sources. That is, making sure that the song is only just about to start and that you're satisfied that it's the right level and position in the recording.
The buttons to the right of each pot (red - gray - black - black - white - white) are features of this mixing board which we don't use having to do with cuing multiple channels separately so I can't tell you anything about them except to leave them alone
To the right of the VU meters are a bunch of buttons (also to be left alone) and 3 knobs. One controls the volume of the ambient monitor in the room, one controls the sound in your headphones (and also the headphones of whoever is sitting at the table behind the console in front of you) and the third I can't remember what it does). Remember that whenever you adjust the volume knob of your headphones, it'll change the volume going to the headphones of everybody sitting at that table in front of you. They also have volume knobs, but if they turn theirs all the way up, then their volume is whatever you set yours to. So make yours a little on the loud side for their sakes.The audio sources, from left to right, are:
The listeners CAN hear people talking in the green room if you leave the door open. It's annoying. Close it before you begin your show.
When you arrive, you can begin to set up at around 1 or 2 minutes prior to the beginning of the hour (and the beginning of your show).
At that time, music should be playing. Or something. If nothing is playing, put something on or start talking. When nothing is playing over the air, we call this condition, "Dead Air" and it is actually against the law. So make sure that -for instance- if the previous person before you played a song that has ended before your show is due to start, that you put on something else or start talking, however...
Since all shows are recorded (including yours) and since those recordings always start exactly on the hour and finish exactly 3 minutes before an hour, remember that no matter what you're saying or playing, the next show always starts at the top of the hour. (x-oclock). So talk about nothing or the previous show until the clock flips over to :00 and then begin talking about your own show as though somebody just tuned in. This is necessary because often shows get re-broadcast later in the week. That is, your show is recorded and might be played again if somebody else gets a flat tire and doesn't make it to the studio in time to produce their show. Also, sometimes, the Station Production Manager might choose to regularly play your show again later in the week so listeners who couldn't catch it the first time can hear it again. Therefore:
Never say the time or date. Only announce how many minutes after or before the hour.
When announcing upcoming events, be sure to say on which day they will occur in absolute days, not relative days. Do NOT say, "Tomorrow,...". Instead, say, "On the 5th...".
Your show should conclude by 57 minutes after the hour, exactly. At that time, you should already have put a music source on and begin playing it so that you have a minute to leave and the person coming in after you has 2 minutes or so to set up. Remember that they might talk over your music, so this would be a bad time for a ballad.
If you do talk over someone's music, because we're using audio processing, the sounds will be mixed with linear proportions. This means that you must pot down the music quite a lot so that your words will be understood by the audience. I mean a lot -- as in, make it so the music can barely be heard at all. If you bring the music down slightly and talk the way you'd expect to be heard, listeners won't be able to understand what you're saying. Turn it down way more than you think.
Very close to the top and bottom of every hour of your show (x:00:00 and x:30:00) you need to say the station identification, frequency and location, such as: "You're listening to KPFZ, 88.1 megahertz in Lakeport, California" or something like that. It needs to be immediately after the top of the hour, not broken by it. So don't start until after x:00:00.
You can bring your own headphones, but try to remember to plug in the headphones that belong in the studio before you leave so the next person doesn't have to hunt for them or be confused because there's no sound; don't laugh -- there are a lot of things on people's minds when they come to the station to work the board for a show, many people just assume everything's set up the way they expect. Not all of these people are as cool as you to have read this document beforehand.
You can't cuss on the air. See above.
When somebody calls in,...
One of the orange lights at the bottom of the console will blink. Usually Line 1.
First, pot up Phone Line 1 (or 2, as the case may be) and then click the ON button on the phone patch panel on the console. That actually is the control to answer the phone. The console pot just sets the volume relative to your volume.
Make sure that you answer the phone in such a way so that they cannot later truthfully claim that they couldn't have known that they'd be talking on the air.
If a caller cusses on the air, you need to cut them off as fast as possible. So pay attention.
You will NOT hear callers unless you're wearing headphones. If you never answer the phone during your show and you're completely confident that everything you play is cued up just right, then you wouldn't need any headphones at all.
If you can't hear anything in the headphones,...
Check that they're plugged in
Check that all of the pots are in their free sliding positions and not locked down at the bottom in the queing position. This is by far the most likely cause of the problem.
Make sure that the buttons below the pot you want playing are clicked correctly. That is, whatever should be playing must have the white or yellow light on and the red light off.
Remember that the clock on the mixing board is a few seconds off. When it matters, use the clock on your smart phone as that is likely to be more accurate.