How do I make an NPR audition recording?
July 27, 2008 9:19 PM   Subscribe

How do I make an NPR audition recording?

My husband has an opportunity to be a fill-in anchor/host/announcer for jazz/classical programming on a local NPR affiliate. He needs to make an audition recording tape/cd. The problem is, we don't have any decent recording equipment nor are we exactly sure what they are looking for.

Is this something we can do on a reasonably cheap microphone hooked to our laptop? What should he record? Does anyone have experience in this area?

Qualifications my husband has: hosted a jazz radio show in college, well-read enthusiast's knowledge (or better) of jazz and classical and a music education background. When he got his first show, he kind of fell into it, and did not need to audition, so he is unclear what he needs to do. Also, he doubts any recordings exist of previous radio show as it was a simply a college radio show.

posted by lizjohn to Media & Arts (2 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
They may be looking for an "air check," but that may be something more specific to commercial radio.

Is there any way you can ask them what they're looking for? How about just listening to what already exists on the show in question or a similar show at another NPR station?

One thing they'll really look for is being RIGHT on target with time. A 30-second thing cannot be 28 seconds or 32 seconds. Even if he never reads news, he'll likely be subject to coming in and out of breaks, and they won't want any dead time.
posted by Madamina at 10:25 PM on July 27, 2008

Madamina's correct - ask if they're looking for an air check. If that's what they're expecting, it won't matter how great a home recording is; it won't work.

If they really want an audition tape, you can record it at home. Basically, program an hour. Often (especially in smaller markets like Tucson), the host has quite a bit of responsibility for selecting music and/or wire copy so they might be looking as much for that as anything else. Figure out (or ask for) their clock. An hour of programming is not just 60 minutes of talk/music. Often it's something like 52 minutes with a 59+1 sec billboard, a 5-minute news hole (for national, not local), and then a 60-sec cutaway or two, either floating or fixed. Once you know the format, produce a show tailored to that format.

Basically, prove you can do it and that it sounds good. (And 'sounds good' as in the host is knowledgeable, likable, professional, efficient, etc.) They won't care how good the mic is, or what the recording is like. They're not going to rely on your equipment. As long as low production doesn't actively get in the way of listening to it, don't worry about it.

Good luck.
posted by ochenk at 11:38 PM on July 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

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