Introduction to Radio Production
Elements of Radio Production 1
TV&R Course #25.1
Section GJK, Code #1420
Mondays 2:00 - 2:50 & Wednesdays 2:00 - 5:40
Radio Lab (302 Whitehead)
Professor: Martin Spinelli
Office: 406 Whitehead
Office hours: Monday 11:45-1:45 & Wednesday 11:45-12:45
(Also at other times by appointment. I will typically be on campus Tuesdays and can arrange
to meet you then as well. Either email me or call the Department of Television & Radio at
Lively ideas and confident, finely-tuned writing constitute 90 percent of a good radio program. This course is
largely about the other 10 percent: the technology of radio production and knowledge of established radio forms.
The official prerequisites for this course are TV/R 16.5, TV/R 20 and TV/R 16 or 28; consequently, you should
have some proficiency as a broadcast writer before taking this course. Through reading radio production essays
and studying examples of good radio programming, but more importantly through hands-on projects involving a
range of recording and broadcast equipment, students will leave this course with the ability to produce a variety
of basic radio pieces.
Students will learn:
- how to conduct an effective interview for radio and how to weave interview segments into radio productions
- which microphone to choose in a given recording situation
- the use of voice modulation and sound effects to enhance radio productions
- the use and care of industry-standard portable cassette recorders and minidisks
- the basic operation of a broadcast mixing board, broadcast CD machines, reel-to-reel tape machines,
console minidisk player/recorders, and audio cart machines
- how to conceive of, produce, and deliver newscasts and a range of features
- the principles of non-linear digital editing and the basics of digital audio editing software
Assignments and Grades:
Advisory #1: Assignments are due when they are due. I have no patience for excuses involving hungry dogs,
dead grandmothers, delinquent siblings, acts of natural disaster, and the like. Similarly, notes from Dr. Mom
will gain you no sympathy. I do NOT accept late work. If you feel you might be unable to meet a deadline
you must discuss it with me during a class meeting before the assignment is due. Only then will I consider
granting you an extension.
Advisory #2: Your equipment is precious. It has taken years and tens of thousands of dollars to acquire the
resources that we currently enjoy in the Department of Television & Radio so please treat them with respect.
I've instructed the Television Center (the people responsible for loaning equipment and scheduling access to
production facilities) to allow you to borrow portable recorders for periods of up to three days. I've also asked
them to keep me informed as to the state of the equipment loaned out to you; if they tell me that someone has
damaged, broken or lost equipment, I reserve the right to lower that person's final grade by as much as one-and-a-half letters. By taking good care of the equipment you not only insure that you and your classmates will
have the tools needed to complete future radio projects, but you will also protect your final grade.
Advisory #3: As each class meeting will build on the material presented in previous sessions, attendance is
extremely important. If you miss more than two class meetings I reserve the right to lower your final grade
one letter for each subsequent absence.
Your final grade will be calculated as follows:
- Quizzes (often surprise) on assigned readings and your knowledge of equipment will make up 15% of your
final grade. If you miss a quiz it counts as a zero. There are no make-up quizzes.
- A fifteen-to-twenty-minute oral report on a radio program of your choosing will count for 10%. It doesn't
have to be your "favorite" radio program, only one you can talk about intelligently for a few minutes (in fact
choosing a program you hate might make for a very interesting report). Students are encouraged not merely
to describe what can be heard on the program but to do some research through the station's web pages,
articles and reviews, and through direct contact with the producers (phone calls or email). Each report must
include a taped excerpt of the program of no more than ten minutes. While I will reward creativity and
insightful connections to other programs and topics discussed in the course; I will penalize obviousness and
lack of commitment.
- Production assignments (done both in and out of class) will count for 25% of your final grade. These will
include a newscast, an audio diary, an announcement, and several features and must be presented to me in
the medium I specify: cart, cassette, reel-to-reel, minidisk, or computer file.
- A live mid-term exam will count for 20%. I will individually test your knowledge of portable recording
equipment, tape editing and the broadcast mixing board.
- Your final project, a four to seven minute radio feature which will include a scripted presenter introduction,
at least two interviews, and some ambient sound or music, will be worth 25%. I will evaluate for
professional presentation of the project, quality of delivery and narrative flow, sound quality of the
interviews and the ambience, and the effectiveness of the editing. This will be turned in on the last day of
- The final 5% of you grade will be based on your class participation. Because much of this course will
revolve around discussions of existing broadcast material and of your own productions, active participation
is essential. You are expected to make thoughtful contributions to classroom discussion and to participate
seriously in peer editing sessions.
- A Packet of excerpts from broadcast equipment operation manuals (available at Far Better Printing)
Working course schedule (subject to change):
Week 1: Introduction
Weeks 2-3: Portable recording equipment
Week 4: Microphones and interviewing
Week 5: Tape editing
Week 6: The mixing board
Week 7: Live, hands-on midterm
Week 8: Feature production
Week 9: The console minidisk
Week 10: Using ambient sound
Weeks 11-14: Software-based digital audio editing