What is it REALLY like to work in broadcasting?
Comment courtesy of Ms. Remy Ann David
While I started in radio and recording studios, I quickly found myself transferred from NBC radio entertainment division to NBC TV news, in Washington DC, back in 1984.
While it is not as aesthetically creative and pleasing as recording music in the studio, it makes up for that in fast-paced, constantly changing, think-on-your-feet live television news broadcasts.
Nothing will hone your chops faster than being on the air, LIVE! While you still get to use the top-of-the-line consoles like analog and digital, SSL and Neves it becomes not a question of audio quality as much as it becomes audio 'intelligibility'.
This is where the effective use of high pass and low pass filters comes into play. You don't need those extremely high or extremely low frequencies when trying to make spoken word recordings clear and intelligible. You want to make sure that everybody at home hears everything without question.
So the use of compression and equalization and filtering (equalization and filtering are the same but different, like men and women) is still a vital function. Not to mention all of the speaker and earphone foldback and IFB's (interruptible fold back, which is generally the earphone in the news anchors ear) one has to set up and keep track of.
So if you have that special ability to be able to 'multitask' yourself, with up to 4 to 5 different audio functions all happening simultaneously, you are ready for major network TV news!
Along with all of that, a different kind of monitor mix must also be generated separately for each and every news anchors incoming and outgoing feed known as a 'mix-minus'. Which is generally all of the feeds the news anchors needs to hear, which is everybody else, minus themselves. If you can't get that right, you won't be working long.
The added benefit of working for a major TV news network was meeting the presidents and vice presidents of the United States, congressmen, senators, prime ministers, dictators, terrorists, etc., et al.. Simply and hugely exciting. It certainly helps to clarify, in your mind, who you want to vote for next time.
While doing live musical broadcasts for television can present an even bigger challenge over news. The challenge in this situation is to come away with an award-winning audio track/recording, while not being able to SEE any microphones in use! Microphones look cool on rock-and-roll groups but not so cool on 80 piece symphony orchestras with 100 voice choruses and numerous vocal soloists.
This takes a lot of creative use of numerous microphone technologies and placements, including the use of tie-tack, lavalier microphones as musical instrument microphones. In this situation, compromise is not a dirty word. The audio fidelity can be quite superb with these extremely small diaphragm condenser microphones. Smaller diaphragms generally mean flatter more linear response with less coloration.
The trade-off is, the smaller the capsule, the less the output, the greater the noise. But this is not necessarily troublesome for a first-line 'A-1' engineer, like myself.
The only real drawback to doing television news is that you have to go in every day for 8 hours a day of BAD NEWS. This clearly can have an adverse effect on somebody like myself who not only carefully listens to the audio quality but also carefully listens to the content. I hate bad news! It's so, bad news.
After doing television news for nearly 20 years, I have grown increasingly tired of the idiotic blather of politicians worldwide. Just not my cup of tea anymore. Can you say burnout?
So I resigned and now it's back to less exciting orchestral and rock-and-roll recording. Also known as freelancing which is a euphemism for unemployment on a semi-regular basis. A little less money perhaps but now I can turn off the bad news without losing my job.
When it comes to regular employment, the good news is bad news.
A 37 year professional with 20 of that at NBC-TV, Washington DC, which I left 7 years ago.
Now I'm showing my age!
Ms. Remy Ann David