Hi Reddit!

I am a Production Specialist with NPR Training — that means my gig is to help NPR reporters and producers tell better stories with sound. I just published this ear training guide:


at the NPR Training site along with a fun audio quiz:


I also mix the podcast Criminal and wrote The Audio Producer’s Guide to Loudness.

I’m joined by two wonderful colleagues from NPR, audio engineers Neil Tevault (/u/NeilTee33) and Andy Huether (/u/altitudinus_rex). Neil is the Technical Director for All Things Considered, and Andy runs NPR’s music studio and works with our wide range of podcasts. All three of us are trained audio engineers with backgrounds in music and field recording, live broadcasting and other fun audio stuff in the podcast and public radio worlds.

We’re here to take your questions about audio problems, podcast production, broadcast issues, audio editing software, gear — anything production-related.

We want to help. Ask us anything! We’re answering questions until 2:00pm ET.

Rob (/u/RobByers1)

Proof: https://twitter.com/nprtraining/status/821422835012878341 https://twitter.com/nprtraining/status/827208483653181440

It's 2pm, so we're going to wrap things up! Thanks everyone, this was fun! There are many questions we didn't get to, so we'll do our best to get to some of these over the next day.

Comments: 215 • Responses: 52  • Date: 

diggum47 karma

Hi, Rob!

Durin from the Adobe Audition team. Wanted to mention that we LOVE your new Ear Training guide. It's a fantastic and clear overview of the most common issues and solutions for capturing great sound and fixing less-than-stellar recordings, and I'll be sharing it with our users.

My question: With the increased competition for listener's ears coming from almost ubiquitous podcasts, satellite, and streaming content, how do you see broadcast radio adapting over the next decade?

RobByers117 karma

Durin, hi! That is great to hear. Thanks for sharing it. We've been working on that for a long time and are really pleased. /u/nprserri was a huge force behind it. We are really pleased!

Personally, I see broadcast radio continuing to be a major source of content in the coming decade! Listener habits are changing, yes, but I think streaming/podcasting will continue to be a wonderful partner to broadcast radio.

austin_federa14 karma

Hey engineers - when I worked for a small station (KBIA) we invested pretty heavily in systems of automation. WAV to MP3 drop folders, auto-imports, volume leveling, so on. At WBUR this is the opposite, it seems everything is manually fired, and things are basically run the way they were in 2004. How much does NPR leverage new system interconnect technologies, and how much of it is still done manually? If manually, does this need to change, or are those stations focusing more on automation making a mistake?

RobByers111 karma

Most of the successful workflows I've seen are a combination of automation and manual operation. You might choose automation when you can't provide staff - like during late night hours, or for tasks that can be easily completed by a computer (like loudness normalization). But I've learned that it's really valuable to have a human monitor or be a part of the processes. When automation fails, it's good to have someone there to keep things going! And, computers still can't hear bad edits, upcut files, distorted audio, and the like! That role could be played out in any number of ways, such as a master control-type position who keeps an eye on all automation in the plant.

I think it comes down to a combo of workflow and budget needs.

metrazol10 karma

What's the most common problem you hear? Is it something technology can fix, or is it training?

RobByers110 karma

When I go to conferences and offer training one-on-ones, I get many questions about levels — balancing various audio clips of voices, nat sound, etc to each other. It's really important to develop your ears to hear whether or not a transition from one piece of audio to another is smooth... and that takes time and practice!

mookler9 karma

Thanks for doing this guys!

What are each of your favorite podcasts? What about them do you like, and why?

RobByers16 karma

I'm a big fan of Invisibilia for the storytelling... Love + Radio for the dramatic storytelling and use of sound design. The Third Coast Festival has a fantastic podcast called Re:Sound that compiles some of the best podcasts and stories every month.

cblack148 karma

Do you have any advice for someone wanting to move towards a career in radio production?

RobByers111 karma


Intern or volunteer at your local public radio station. That's a great way to meet folks and see the action in-person.

Invite folks from your local station out to coffee and pick their brains. Great way to meet folks and you'll find that people are super friendly when you express curiosity.

And finally - check out informational websites like http://npr.org/training. It's a great resource for learning how to tell stories with audio. Transom.org is another long-time favorite.

take_all_the_upvotes6 karma

I got an opportunity to do this as a summer of service volunteer out of high school a few years ago with NPR's Member Station WAMU in DC. I cannot recommend this enough. I worked primarily with Bluegrass Country and it was a freaking blast. I met a ton of people and learned so much every day that summer. We also got to take a group intern trip to NPR Music and see where the Tiny Desk concerts got shot and the post-production facilities there. As a student who had just graduated out of highschool this was everything I could've asked for and more.

RobByers12 karma

That's fantastic!

oivas7 karma

What does your job require of you ?

RobByers112 karma

My job is a ton of fun! I work as a Production Specialist in the NPR Training team. I have to have the skills of an audio engineer — the fundamentals like understanding signal flow, properties of microphones, how the gear works, how to use the technology to achieve creative ideas. I also have to have a real solid understanding of the production side of things — understanding workflow, translating the goals of storytelling in to audio, understanding the pressures of a newsroom, editorial concerns. I started my career as an audio engineer, and have worked in broadcast and music... and recently joined NPR Training.

pratica2 karma

Hi Rob! You said you started as an audio engineer, so how did you end up in the position you are in now? That honestly sounds like my dream job...

RobByers15 karma

It's great! I was lucky and picked up a freelance gig with NPR many years ago. I tried to learn as much as I could and took any opportunity I could get to try new things. I then worked at Minnesota Public Radio and became really involved in the production side of things — getting myself out from behind the gear and in to things like workflow, content creation, etc. And now here I am back at NPR, working with some amazing people, and sharing what I've learned over the years.

rabsoo6 karma

How do you do voice over translations? Tell us about some of the hardest editorial decisions you have made.

RobByers12 karma

Three common ways translations are produced:

  1. Using your own, in-the-moment translator on the scene.
  2. Using someone else's voice to say the things the other person said.
  3. Doing it yourself (you the reporter).

b_a_n_a_n_a6 karma

Where and what did you study? Do you all have AE degrees a from university, or is it something you worked into from other jobs/careers? Asking as an Electrical Engineering major who loves signal processing and aim to point my career path towards audio work.

Also, what is your favorite method for noise reduction? I'm doing my own audio work for a podcast on the side, and I've been sliding between mic placement/gain settings and filters/noise gate in post. I run a simple Xenyx mixer through a RCA to USB a/d converter, and I can't seem to get rid of some persistent fuzz. And thanks for doing this!

RobByers13 karma

I have a music degree (percussion) from James Madison University (they have a wonderful Music Industry program). I also have a Master's in Recording Arts from Peabody University/Johns Hopkins University. My music background was super helpful in developing my ears and understanding the needs of "talent." After that, most of my learning has been on the job. I found a love of broadcast and production and have just been hungry to learn more every day. It's a fun industry!

/u/neiltee33 hit the nail on the head. Prevention is the best cure! Mic placement and a good signal chain is the best way to beat noise! Izotope RX is fantastic, and Adobe Audition also offers noise reduction capabilities.

take_all_the_upvotes3 karma

Not to keep following your posts around raving about random things, but I'm studying Audio Engineering and classical percussion at Belmont University in Nashville. I am however originally from VA and it's always nice to hear JMU around these parts. Working both sides of the Mic definitely helps with the perspective of working with musicians in the studio. I am really looking into working with Nashville Public Radio in the near future in whatever capacity I can achieve. I don't really have an end to this comment so here seems like a good spot.

RobByers11 karma

Good luck to you!

teeronce6 karma

Could you recommend a loudness meter plug-in that is compatible with older versions of Pro Tools (like Pro Tools 9)? Also, how do you think the new Macbook Pros stack up for radio production and audio post?

RobByers18 karma

Loudness meters: you should be able to find some Native plugs still. I think the Waves WLM-1, along with the TC Electronic meters will work. You can also try the HOFA 4U meter, it's good in a pinch. More here: http://transom.org/2015/the-audio-producers-guide-to-loudness/

Not sure about the new Macbook Pro. For personal use I'm on a 2015 Macbook Pro and LOVE. IT.

teeronce3 karma


RobByers12 karma

You are welcome!

PrivatePorkster6 karma

What equipment would you recommend for a brand-new, low-budget podcast to get the best sound? Like, in the $300 range. Would you prioritize nice microphones first or a nicer audio interface to grow on?

RobByers17 karma

Hi! I'd prioritize a good mic first. For $300 you can get a decent traditional mic with XLR outputs that will last you a long time, even as technologies change (like USB). Try the Shure Beta 58.

breeb30956 karma

I was looking into interning with NPR. I'm a huge fan of a lot of the shows and really have a passion for stories. How difficult is the hiring process?

RobByers15 karma

That's really nice to hear. Another user had a similar question - intern and volunteer at Member stations... and take folks out for coffee and be curious about their jobs.

trapntan6 karma

I feel comfortable asking because I know you don't decide content:

How do you stay awake for a whole shift?

RobByers18 karma

Sometimes it's on adrenaline! Breaking news can really get the blood flowing...

Spiritofeden6 karma

In Mark Kermode's BBC reviews, he's always able to sit remarkably far back from the mic as well as move right up on it, and his dynamics are amazingly controlled. I can barely hear the noise floor. Is this just a matter of having a very dead room with major compression and a lot of make up gain?

RobByers14 karma

Hard to say, it's probably a combo of many things. Perhaps someone here is knowledgeable about the setup.

It could be the mic's pattern (it might be set in a hyper cardioid pattern with some reach), low noise floor, quiet room... and perhaps there was some post-production done to lower the noise floor.

Musichead24685 karma

What tasks can/does an audio engineer to at a radio station? Also how much will being completely deaf in one ear affect an audio engineer working at a radio station?

RobByers13 karma

Audio engineers at radio stations can play a wide variety of roles. They might operate the mixer and control playback of audio on the air (we call that "driving a show"). They can set up equipment and broadcast lines for remote broadcasts outside of the studio. They can do post-production and mixing, or work in a master control to monitor systems and automation.

I bet there are many opportunities for someone who suffers from hearing loss! Working in a master control and monitoring systems, or even driving live broadcasts might be possible depending on the situation.

khaleesi4 karma

  • What are your recommendations for scrappy podcasters (e.g. what is something you shouldn't skimp on)?
  • When and how did you decide you wanted to be in this space?

Thank you for doing this AMA and your hard work! I know how valuable and important your jobs are in the industry.

RobByers15 karma

If you are going to invest some serious cash, I'd say a decent microphone is the place to start. A good mic will be useful for a very, very long time, even as technology changes.

elaineagrant3 karma

Hi -- I'm a former public radio reporter/producer, used to the luxury of a studio and engineers! I'm now a podcaster struggling to get high-quality sound with remote interviews. What's your best setup for a podcaster in a home studio?

RobByers15 karma

So many places to start, right?

Transom.org is a wonderful resource for this sort of thing, and Jeff Towne there has written a series about podcasting, beginning with.... gear!


mradoff4 karma

Field recording question:when interviewing someone what's the most practical method of capturing the interviewee's responses and also your questions?

In particular, using a short shotgun in a pistol grip. Is it a matter of pointing the mic back and forth? I find that awkward when the person is across from you, especially when using the pistol grip.

Should I try to be next to them? Use a different mic? Two mics?


RobByers13 karma

First, kudos for recording yourself. Always record your questions! They can be really useful for setting context... and as a listener it puts me in the conversation when I hear the reporter in the same space as the interviewee.

A shotgun in a pistol grip (with proper wind protection) is a totally valid approach! Unless it is super windy, you can use a shotgun. Here's an example of how you can position your hands and your interviewee:


Some folks will say that shotguns need to be used at a distance. That's preferred, especially when using high-end mics. But the lower-end mics we use in radio exhibit some properties that make it ok to use them closer (and you should use the lower end mics closer!).

Don't forget to use your high pass filter to combat proximity effect!

out_of_left2 karma

That's a really good video of using a shotgun in that situation.

RobByers11 karma

Thanks! /u/nprserri made it!

metrazol1 karma

Drop the pistol grip maybe? It puts your hand at the wrong angle, at least when interviewing.

RobByers13 karma

I can see why you'd say that, but I wouldn't drop it... then you'll have issues with mic handling noise. Shots are really sensitive to handling noise.


tdvian3 karma

This might be a simple answer, but when I am in the field gathering sound, sometimes I hear a dull squeaking sound in my audio...I think it comes from when I move the mic in my hand either to gather sound of someone speaking, of myself speaking, sound close to the ground etc. I use a standard reporters mic.

How do I keep that sound out of my audio? I've been holding the mic as delicately as possible, but that can lead to me dropping the mic, which is NOT what I want. Thanks for the training guide! I've learned a ton already!

RobByers11 karma

Sounds like you've got mic handling noise! Find yourself a good pistol grip to absorb those vibrations.

Check out our Ear Training Guide for Audio Producers for some solutions: http://training.npr.org/audio/the-ear-training-guide-for-audio-producers/#handling

thedapperdan3 karma

Hey all, I recently began producing and mixing an NPR style podcast called - ahem, This American Gibberish.

I consulted with Rob's Audio Producer's Guide to Loudness, ultimately mixing to -24 LUFS, then using a limiter to get it to -18 LUFS for podcast consumption. I think I accomplished that (at least the -18 LUFS goal) on episode one. However, the second episode involves a lot of background music / field recordings below the interview, and because of the headroom taken up by the bass in those clips, I had a hard time getting to -18 LUFS without turning the gain in interview way down. What can I do in situations like that? Do I just keep it at -18 LUFS and make the voices and background audio quieter in those sections?

Ultimately I came pretty close, but people complained they couldn't hear the background audio (very important for the story in this case) so I gave up and turned up the background audio 4 dB and now I'm pretty sure its quite a bit higher than -18 LUFS :/. Any tips for those situations?

Also any feedback on the podcast, mixing or otherwise, is very welcome!

Thanks! Daniel

RobByers13 karma

Quick answer here... hard to answer without hearing the particular problem in question.

Take the loudness spec as a guide. It's meant to ensure that content is consistent... so that applies to the mix of elements within your episode... but also the consistency between episodes... or even consistency between your podcast and another podcast.

As you mix, if your ears tell you that something should be louder, it's ok to listen to your ears. Use the loudness target as a guide.

This argument breaks down in professional situations where the spec must be specifically adhered to for technical and distribution reasons... but in general when mixing standalone pieces or episodes, you should rely heavily on the loudness meter unless your ears tell you otherwise.

thedapperdan1 karma

Thanks! I'll keep that in mind.

I know you're busy - the problem starts at about 0:50 in episode two, if you get a chance.


RobByers12 karma

Listening right now. This is tricky because you are recording at a distance... because that's what the story seems to be about, listening at a distance.

I think you've done a good job with this!

swatchesgalore3 karma

What advice would you give to current and previous NPR interns that want to come back and work in audio at NPR? What's the best way to get your foot in the door?

RobByers12 karma

Reach out to the folks that make those decisions and ask curious questions. Ask what they are looking for... and then deliver that! These folks are busy, so respect their time, and be patient for a response.

Be well-rounded, present yourself professionally, and offer solutions to problems!

swatchesgalore1 karma

That's really helpful! Thank you!

RobByers11 karma

You are very welcome.

ExistentialSnail3 karma

I'm not an audio techie but a big NPR supporter. Big thanks for doing your part for a great organization.
Audio question - are there any reliable ways to deal with the poor sound quality from phone calls?

RobByers13 karma

Filtering! And a little bit of compression... see this article: https://airmedia.org/ask-engineer-fix-your-phone-tape/

rabsoo2 karma

Any chance you could do a series on optimizing the production workflow? Thanks!

RobByers12 karma

We've got a post on our website npr.org/training about figuring out workflow... it might help you.

It's here: http://training.npr.org/audio/be-prepared-how-a-production-workflow-can-help-you-avert-disaster/

garrettmcqueen2 karma

Thanks for doing this! I host classical music on an NPR affiliate station, and I'm wondering what propels shows like "Fresh Air" into the national sound waves. Also, what is your best advice for preventing the "popping P" and "hissing S" when using a microphone?

RobByers12 karma

Check out NPR Training's Ear Training Guide for Audio Producers for more on plosives and sibilance: http://training.npr.org/audio/the-ear-training-guide-for-audio-producers/

oivas2 karma

What changes have you seen in your industry from the start of your careers till now?

RobByers11 karma

/u/neiltee33 hit the nail on the head!

I'd add that roles are blending in some interesting ways. Audio engineers are now asked to sound design... and producers are much more involved in the tech side of things. The gear and tech is making it easier to create... but that doesn't mean it's easier to create things that sound good. So I think broadcasters are always on the lookout for people who can fill multiple roles, are knowledgeable of how their craft intersects with other crafts, and who can act as "consultants" to guide others through their craft.

ChuckEye2 karma

I've got a decent field recorder (Tascam DR-40). What would be a reasonably priced mic to get for outdoor capture? And what accessories would you recommend? (shock-mount boom? windscreens? gear bags? whatever…)

RobByers11 karma

I'd go for a Shure SM58 or a Beta 58. That will be a good match of gain, low noise floor, and wind-resistance. Find yourself a good windscreen/popper stopper and TWO quality XLR cables (one short, one long).

julesss2 karma

  1. What instruments do you play (if any)?
  2. What type of music do you guys listen to? Favorite decade in music?
  3. Which flavor in Neapolitan ice cream is your favorite?

RobByers13 karma

  1. Drums and other percussion. LOVE playing jazz.
  2. I'm a big jazz head (late 50s and 60s, also much more modern stuff. No thanks to the 70s and 80s!)
  3. CHOCOLATE! (I may have just had to fact check which flavors are in Neapolitan....)

rickmuscles2 karma

What's your most challenging experience recording something live?

Do you like to tape outside of NPR like for Phish or Grateful Dead?

RobByers12 karma

I worked for a long time with Minnesota Public Radio before coming back to NPR. In the spring of 2015 I had the extreme fortune of coordinating a broadcast of the Minnesota Orchestra from Havana, Cuba. For many reasons it was a historic event... and was quite challenging! No telco lines in/out of the island, so we had to rely on satellites, special permissions, and lots of coordination with many different entities. Check it out: http://www.classicalmpr.org/topic/cuba

I do like to tape outside of work :) But it's mostly with friends for special projects. I also do quite a bit of freelance audio mixing for podcasts which I find really fun. Many of my colleagues do the same.

cardinalsfanokc2 karma

It seems like no matter where I go or where I listen to NPR (different stations, podcasts, etc) ALL stations have the same sound. I can pick out an NPR station just rolling through the dial. Is there some NPR standard for audio producing that causes this phenomenon?

RobByers13 karma

You might find this article helpful... it explains the "NPR sound". If the programming you are listening to originates from NPR the article applies (content produced at the stations may have different approaches).


splicepoint2 karma

Thanks for doing the AMA. I love the ear training guide - a few buddies and I dabble in podcasting and have had a good time sharing this around. It's definitely helped solidify what we've picked up 'along the way' and it has helped me pique the interest of those who are less technically inclined because it's presented in such an accessible way.

How have the dramatic changes in technology affected the process of recording and producing audio in the field? Has audio tech reached a place where we're now experiencing diminishing returns? Is it frustrating to produce content on nice equipment only for most listeners to hear it through low-fi earbuds or amidst the road noise of a busy interstate on their way to work?

Any pro tips on learning the post-production side of things? My experience is more on the video editing side and I would love know if you have resources that are great spots to pick up more training on EQ, filters, etc.

Sorry in advance, thoughts and questions bounce around a bit!

RobByers12 karma

Thanks for the nice words! That's great to hear.

Wow, so many good questions! The ability to use digital audio recorders, laptops, software audio editors make producing in the field pretty easy much of the time. There are certainly drawbacks, but it works really well.

Re: ear buds/listening in the car — I think you have to always strive for the best sound you can get... and then adapt that for your audience. In podcast production, for instance, you want clear, intelligible sound... and you want it to be consistent in loudness so that it's audible over the road noise or washing the dishes. I don't find it frustrating at all... I think it's a fun challenge to make things sound good in all of those environments.

Transom.org is a great place to get some of that EQ-type training you are looking for. Also, I like the magazine Sound on Sound quite a bit. You can join your local AES chapter to find others interested in audio... and you could also call up someone locally who is doing work you like, take them to lunch, and ask to observe them working!

bubbledragonz1 karma

Hello. I am a senior in high school interested mainly in working with other's artists music through mixing and mastering their stuff. I have found it very difficult to know which concepts matter most or what all i should do to get there in my future career. 1. Do you believe that music theory knowledge is needed at all? 2. Is it even necessary to go to a university to study sound engineering or should i just intern somewhere after i graduate to learn the essential skills? Hopefully this is pretty understood by your stand point. Any advice would be very much appreciated!

RobByers12 karma

I've met successful engineers who have studied at the university level, who have taken vocational courses, and who have interned and learned on the job. There are many routes to get there! Personally I went to 7 years of university-level training, and am glad I did, because I received education in a wide variety of disciplines. I also think music training has really helped me (and I bet many other engineers would agree with that). But again, I've met some very successful engineers who learned in an apprentice role and they are really good at their gigs. I think it comes down to what you are comfortable with and what you want to learn!

badhatharry1 karma

Shit, I missed this.

For temporary connectivity, do you guys still use ISDN, or are you shifting more towards IP?

I imagine permanent connections are made via T-1 or MPLS, am I right?

RobByers11 karma

ISDN is still in use, yes, but it's extremely hard to come by in certain parts of the country... and there's a ton of VoIP in use as well. And yup, T-1 or MPLS is really common, too!

ProfXavier1 karma

Best advice for someone trying to get into the audio industry? I do a bit of freelance work but I'm trying to go pro.

RobByers12 karma

Talk to folks — take them out to coffee and ask them intelligent, curious questions. Find ways to help solve problems and be open with your ideas.

jignha1 karma

What do you do with your down time while on the job?

RobByers11 karma

Not much downtime for me on the Training team! But I'm usually doing a ton of listening (to NPR content and tons of podcasts)... and also reading about and keeping up with production technology.

produceNewMedia1 karma

Why are ubiquitous Podcasts such as Fresh Air not optimized for Internet/Mobile consumption? For instance Feb.1 installment (in website) - extremely wide dynamics, Integrated Loudness well below what is recommended, full scale peaks, etc. [-paul.]

RobByers12 karma

Hi Paul! Good to see you here. I know we've discussed this one before — but in general shows in the public radio system are asked to follow a loudness standard for broadcast distribution. You can read about that standard here. http://prss.org/loudness

On the digital side of things (like podcasts and streaming), stations usually decide what works well for their own needs, workflows, and their listeners.

stashcraft081 karma

Howdy! I must admit, I haven't read much of your material (yet). But I have done the fun ear quiz!

I'm curious...Do you ever gain all tracks to a reference point on a loudness meter, then mix from there?

I ask because I've found that I rather like zeroing things on a mixer such that 0 on the fader is roughly equal loudness across the board, then balancing from that reference point. It allows me to quickly see "yeah, that track is roughly 3 LUs below that one". Curious to know if anyone else does this! Thanks!

RobByers11 karma

Hi! If I understand you correctly, I think you are referring to using loudness normalizing individual clips or tracks to the same loudness before mixing. That might work really well if you are dealing with voices recorded in a clean, noise-free environment. But it might prove problematic if you try to combine disparate content, such as voices with varying degrees of background sound/ambi, music, and recorded scenes. The background sound would get gained up so hot that it might distort for instance... or so hot that you inevitably have to turn it down. You may also run in to issues with the background sound on voice clips jumping around in level.


What ear/headphones do you use daily when out and about (not just because of work) any recommendations that aren't astronomical in price?

RobByers15 karma

Headphones are a very personal choice. I tend to want to pick something that is going to give me a realistic interpretation of the audio I'm recording and allow me to hear problems like plosives, wind noise, low frequency issues, etc.

Sony 7506s are an industry standard. They are not that realistic (!) ... but they do a great job of letting you hear problems. You'll find them in many radio stations and audio houses across the country.

Remote Audio also makes a version of the 7506 (HN 7506) that puts the 7506 speaker in a set of isolating ear pieces. Great for working in the field.

I have some colleagues who really like the Beyer Dynamic range of headphones. They can get pretty high-end.

I use a pair of Sennheiser HD-650s, but those are also high-end. I've used them for 13 years. I find them comfortable to wear and they are fairly natural sounding.

And Shure makes some nice ear buds, the Shure SE215. I'm a fan!


Thanks for answering although asking a professional his fav pair of cans was always going to come back with high quality prices :D I'll check out your suggestions thank you!

RobByers12 karma

You are welcome! The SE215 is right at $100... and the 7506s can often be had for as low as $80-90. Good luck in your search.

username-valid1 karma

What's the hardest part of the job? Also what's the most enjoyable part of the Job?

RobByers11 karma

I love hearing my work on the air and knowing I was part of the team that made it happen. It's really rewarding. (And everything you hear on air has a team behind it!)

Hardest part? The flexibility needed to do the job well. As an audio engineer in the broadcast world you could be asked to record an opera one day... then mix a live radio call-in show the next. Similar in many ways... but flexing very different muscles. It's fun!

sameyouell1 karma

What's it like setting up a sound stage in that tiny office for the tiny desk concerts?

JoshRogosin3 karma

there's no PA and no monitors so getting the band used to playing with no sound reinforcement can be tricky. Mics are pulled back to get out of the close up shots so getting enough isolation is tough, so I use directional shotgun mics and DI's when I can. I try to make the bands feel comfortable enough to take direction about adjusting amp volumes so everyone can hear the singer, like they're "sitting around a camp fire" performing.

RobByers11 karma

It's Josh! He's the man behind the TDCs, y'all!

quibs_1 karma

Hope I'm not too late!

I'm an independent, early career producer. If I wanted to learn more on mixing and editing (I'm mostly in Audition and have access to RX), what are some training modules to seek out within the specific context of radio news and storytelling? Anything that pops into mind?

Also, /u/RobByers1, I saw that you recommended some IEM Shure monitors on Twitter. I bought them because of your recommendation and I love them! Thanks!

RobByers11 karma

Hey, that's awesome to hear that you like them! I'm glad.

First - try interning at your local public radio station. There's nothing better than real-world experience, and interning can open that door.

The are many, many workshops you can take or apply to.

Check out these places for lists of workshops: AIR: https://airmedia.org/ Transom: http://transom.org

AreYouCoolMan1 karma

1) How will the new presidential administration's proposed decrease in NPR's funding affect you?

2) Where do you see yourself down the line with this career path? Is there a good amount of upward/lateral mobility, or even the chance to transfer these skills outside of radio?

RobByers11 karma

I've really loved this career path. I've done some really fun things, recorded amazing musicians, produced some quality work, travelled, held management positions, and feel pretty knowledgeable about the tech and operations side of the broadcast industry. I think my experiences are definitely transferable outside of radio — the post-production industry comes to mind first, doing sound in various ways for movies or tv.

beezelbub1 karma

Do you add noise to, or otherwise filter the audio streams from callers to distinguish the voice from in-studio voices?

RobByers12 karma

Depending on the show, callers and guests to radio programs may connect via any number of ways. The most common in radio are ISDN (high quality data lines via telephone companies), Voice over IP services, and the phone. These all differ in quality and will have various artifacts, problems, and advantages. ISDN and VoIP can sound as good as a studio recording... or they can sound very bad, depending on the quality of the connection, bandwidth available, etc. It's a case-by-case basis. Phone calls usually processed with equalization and compression to make them more intelligible. But I can't think of a reason for callers to be filtered so that they sound "different" from the studio voices — they are treated so they sound more intelligible.


Thanks for doing this AMA! I'm currently a very small music producer. I don't think I'm going to get anywhere with that, but I do really enjoy messing around with it and am thinking about doing this as my profession. My question is what do you think is the best way to get into the industry? Thanks!! :)

RobByers11 karma

Go for it! I suggest talking to as many people as you can, be curious about their jobs, and be respectful and thankful for the time they spend with you.

fuckallofyouforreal1 karma

Were you all assigned bizarre names when you got the job or does NPR save those for on air talent?

RobByers12 karma

When I got in public radio I was told I wasn't awesome enough, so I had to keep my boring name.