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Course Information

Instructor Info:Becky Miller
Office Extension x5545
TA Info:Reilly Kennon
Jo Nguyen
Term: 2013F
Meeting Info: Wednesday
01:00 PM - 03:50 PM Harold Johnson Library B3

In this course, we will learn how to produce music pieces for public radio. We will first learn the basics of radio journalism, including reporting, recording, scriptwriting, production, and the effective use of music and ambient sound. Students will then produce three music-related pieces, including a vox pop, a CD review, and a short documentary feature in a style consistent with public radio. Students will also gain a working knowledge of sound editing techniques using ProTools software. In addition to regularly workshopping students' projects in class, we will discuss weekly reading and listening assignments that introduce students to creative public radio pieces focusing on music. Students can borrow digital recorders, microphones, and other equipment from Media Services. Prerequisite: Prior college-level coursework in writing, journalism, media production, music, or ethnomusicology/anthropology is required. 

Additional Resources

Becky is always available to help with questions or problems you may have with any aspect of this course. 

TA:  Jo Ann Nguyen is available to help with various production/scripting questions.

TA-assistant:  Reilly Kennon is available to help with ProTools.

John Bruner is available to help with any aspect of recording and production equipment as well as with ProTools. Email:; ext. 5326.

Email any of us if you are having problems or require assistance with your productions.

Course Objectives:

This course is divided into four skill areas:

1) Listening: developing an ear for sound and radio. Plan to spend a considerable amount of time each week listening to assigned professionally produced pieces;

2) Field Recording: Building interviewing and audio recording skills. Students will be trained on professional audio recording equipment. Interviewing and ambient sound recording techniques will be emphasized as well as basic music recording techniques;

3) Writing for Radio: Telling the story. Developing a written narrative for radio is entirely different than writing print narrative. The focus here will be on scripting and writing for the voice;

4) Production: Mixing and editing using Pro-Tools software.


Evaluation Criteria:

To Receive an evaluation for this course, you must complete the following:

1) Radio Production Assignments.  All recorded work must be submitted in standard CD format (please make sure that you can play all CDs back on a standard CD deck and/or laptop). All assignments must be handed in on time; more than one late assignment will result in no evaluation for this course. This is particularly important because throughout the semester, we will workshop the various stages of each assignment as a class and you will need to be ready to present your work to other students.

Audio assignments that we’ll produce this semester:

-- 2 minute Vox Pop, containing narration, actualities, ambience.

-- 3-5 minute review of album, containing narration and music.

-- 5-8 minute profile of a music community or feature on some aspect of music and cultural production (containing narration, actualities, ambience, and music).

All scripts must be handed in using the format as described on the attached style sheet.  These can be hard copy or emailed to me.

Please save all drafts of all scripts; I will need to see these when I write the final evaluation for the course.

 2) Critical Listening Essays: Students will write three critiques of a produced (not live) public radio series or show (can be accessed via the Internet), as indicated:

--  radio series/program devoted to folk, traditional, or “world” music (2 pages).

--  radio program/series devoted to jazz and/or blues or classical music (2 pages).

--  A CD review from NPR (or other public radio entity) (2 pages).

In evaluating a radio show or a show within a series, write succinctly and clearly, discussing the following issues: 1) what is the producer’s main point?  2) how does the producer use words, music, and sound to present his/her main point?  3) What is typical or unusual about the production style? Also offer a critique:  what could be improved?  Why?

Please turn in all work double spaced, 12 point font, and printed out in black ink only. 

2) Attendance:  you are allowed to miss one (1) class.  If you miss more, you will not receive an evaluation for this course.  Attendance is mandatory when we have a guest speaker.  Lateness policy: Class begins at 1:00 when you are expected to be in your seat, ready to begin. We will take a short break half way through the class during which we’ll break open snacks and a drink (sign up sheet to bring in snacks/drink will be passed around during the first class).

Please note: This break will be 5 minutes in duration.  It is enough time to stretch, go to the bathroom, have a snack, and return to one’s seat.  It is not enough time to leave the building, print out your script, or run to your dorm.  If you are late when we are ready to resume, I will count this as an absence.

3) Class Participation: Since we will regularly workshop our ongoing projects, your regular and energized participation in class discussions and constructive feedback to your fellow students on their work is required.  When it is your turn to present your work, you must be prepared with a CD containing in order the cuts that you want us to hear as well as the correct number of copies of your script to distribute to students. If you do not, you will miss your turn to present your work and you will not receive an evaluation for this class.

Additional Info:

Equipment: Students will be trained primarily on digital recording equipment, all of which can be borrowed from Hampshire’s Media Services. (Five College students should borrow equipment from their home school; it that's not possible, please see the instructor.)

Required purchase:  Available from Amherst Books, 8 Main Street in the center of town; phone: 413.256.1547;

Kern, Jonathan, Sound Reporting: The NPR Guide to Audio Journalism and Production.  Univ. of Chicago Press, 2008.

Ives, Edward D., The Tape-Recorded Interview: A Manual For Fieldworkers in Folklore and Oral History.  Second Edition. 1995.

All other reading assignments can be downloaded from the course webpage, which is also where you will find listening assignments. Please bring printed copies of all reading to class. Reading assignments are required; please come to class prepared to discuss the reading material.

Register on line to access: PRX (Public Radio Exchange):

Schedule subject to change!  Always always consult the course webpage because new or different listening and/or reading assignments will be added.