Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A day in the life of Mandy, Broadcast Editor extraordinaire

I know what you're thinking. Every day, you open your eyes in the morning and think "I wish I knew what Mandy was doing right now. I want to know every little detail about what she does." You just saw the title of this blog post and thought "Finally! I've been waiting all my life to find out what a Broadcast Editor does!"

Actually, I doubt anybody actually cares about this. I mean, really, who cares about this? But most of the purpose of this blog is to document my life and experiences so I can look back someday and think "Gosh, who cares about this?" [Actually, I love having all these stories from before we were married, getting married, and so far the first year of marriage. I love having a history. And so I might as well document this too.]

Anyway, I just thought I'd take you through a normal day in the life of a Broadcast Editor. I really love my job - it's what I've always wanted to do. I'll try not to be too terribly technical, but, well, I work in a semi-technical field, so feel free to insert "blah blah blah Ginger" where needed (anybody get that reference?) if I get into jargon you don't understand. Or, if you're actually interested, you can ask questions about it. I don't mind.

Some basic Mandy vocabulary:

FTP - a magical way to transfer files from one person to the other on the internet
Amb-OS - a magical place we put our programs so the stations can automatically receive and air them
SAW - the multi-track audio editing software I work with
.EDL - A session file in SAW, like a word document is a .doc
Voice Tracks - audio tracks that the announcer, Dave Spiker records for before and after the preaching part of the program. This is where he introduces Chuck's message and tells you all about the stuff you want to order from us at the end.


My job here is to actually assemble the programs. I'm the last one to get them before they air.

Before I can do what I do, Chuck preaches at the church, and the recorded message (every single word, cough, burp, and stutter) is transcribed onto paper.

After that, Cynthia (his wife and our CEO) reads it and edits out the things that shouldn't be in the broadcast, such as an audience cell phone ring or a reference to something we don't have permission to air.

Another editor, Joanna, makes all the edits to the messages and makes them the appropriate lengths for the broadcasts. Then, someone writes a script for Spiker to introduce and conclude the programs. He records them, and finally, everything comes to me for assembly. This is where my job starts.


When I arrive at work, it's sometimes to some kind of small crisis. It's usually just our FTP/Amb-OS host or a station telling me there's something wrong with a program (gosh, that makes me sound like I'm good at my job, doesn't it?). That's the first thing I deal with when I arrive.

Some days we have a staff meeting, in which I say three words about what I'm working on and enjoy my coffee as I listen to others say their three words about what they're working on. Once a week, we have a devotional at this time, in which we usually discuss a Biblical topic or a book we're reading together and do some praying. I love working for a place like this.

If I'm editing a broadcast that day, generally it goes a little something like this:
  1. I grab the scripts and voice tracks off our FTP from Spiker and convert them into .wav (uncompressed audio file - best for editing) format. Then, I open the scripts that he's marked with his mistakes on my second screen so I can edit on my big screen and read the scripts on little screen.

  2. I open an .EDL and put the music, voice tracks, and Chuck's message kind of where they need to go on all the tracks. I build five versions of each broadcast - International, Domestic, Border between US and Canada, Canada only, and Podcast. The main difference between the versions is the addresses, URLs, and phone numbers Spiker gives in his voice tracks, but the messages from Chuck are the same.

  3. I put Spiker's voice tracks into double-speed, so he's talking really fast and high like a chipmunk. That lets me get it done a whole lot faster.

  4. There are parts of the voice tracks that are the same across all the versions, so I copy that part to each version and edit the rest using the scripts I'm given. Then, I listen to the voice tracks and edit the parts he made mistakes on. Sometimes, he says things that make me laugh a lot (which makes editing more fun). He's a very funny guy.

  5. After the voice tracks are edited, I put them back to normal speed and add them to the beginning and end of the program. I put everything in order and mix the levels on the music and voice so they sound right.

  6. I add any inserts that had been scripted to the broadcast, such as commercials for our Alaska trip or special messages from Chuck. Then, I mix it down into a single wav file.

  7. After that, I convert them into all kinds of different formats, like mp3 and mp2, and deliver them to various FTP sites and Amb-OS, and burn CDs for the stations that still receive the programs via snail-mail.
So that's pretty much it. Obviously I do a lot more than this, like assembling the short features and Spanish programs, and occasionally some video work, but now you can sleep well tonight knowing just a little bit about what I'll be doing tomorrow morning.

You. Are. Welcome.


Tiffany said...

Very interesting!

So what sorts of things would you not have permission to air?

Do you actually listen to Chuck's messages while you are editing?

Mandy and Jack said...

Sometimes if Chuck reads an excerpt from a book and we can't get permission to air that book, we'll take that kind of thing out. Legal stuff, mostly. We'll also edit stuff for time, like if he used several different illustrations and we just can't fit it all in, she'll take something like that out.

Occasionally I listen to parts of the message if something catches my ear, but I don't have time to listen to the whole thing when I'm assembling. If I see a message on the broadcast schedule that I want to listen to, I just make sure to listen to it in my car that day, or listen to it while I'm not editing (like when I'm converting and uploading programs).

El said...

Wow. I am. Overwhelmed. You're so fancy!

Dyan Lee said...

chuck swindle?? i love him! I love christian radio but can't get it in in my house can barely get it in on my car radio. WGNR is my favorite. I love all those talk shows i get so much insite...I just wish i used as much in my personal life as i listen to. God help me with this...

Kim said...

How cool!! I used to go to Stonebriar - and found your blog through Ellyn - her son Seth and I have the same CI company. We met in California recently. Small world as I used to live in Tampa near her before my prince charming came into my life :) I used to work in the Cubbies at Stonebriar for a long time.

Mandy and Jack said...

Wow! That's so cool! That's where I do T&T too! Small world. :)