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Archive for the ‘Public media’ Category

A few days ago the South Carolina legislature overrode Governor Nikki Haley’s veto of funding for the SCETV Commission — that’s both public TV and radio in SC.

The legislative leadership apparently thought that they had assurances the funding would not be vetoed. For fans of political drama, here’s a remarkable video of the House Majority Leader, Kenny Bingham (R), taking the Governor to task (and getting cheers from the House).

Nice that he expresses compassion for the people who work at SCETV. And as for “There is no educational value in the second kick of a mule” — words to live by.

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Another geek alert:

Last time I wrote about digitizing LPs. Here’s my newest techno toy: the Zoom H2 digital recorder. I used this on a recent trip to Virginia for the Wayne Henderson Music Festival and Guitar Competition.

My sister Jean, a musician and educator who lives near Wayne in Mouth of Wilson, Virginia had invited me and I decided to test the H2 as a field recorder. I was really impressed. I used it for a story I later did for WHQR. You can find the story, and some of my original files, here.

With an 8G card, the H2 can record about 12 hours of stereo in WAV format, which is far less lossy than mp3. Of course, for the web and for many purposes mp3s are just fine; I use a Mac program called Amadeus to convert WAV to mp3. More on Amadeus later.

The H2 actually uses 4 mikes in pairs to record sound. You can direct the sound recording to the front stereo (facing you as you look at the controls), rear stereo (facing away), 2-channel front and rear, and 4-channel surround.

I quickly realized that for audio production I got best results from the 4-channel. In this mode the H2 actually makes simultaneous recordings from the front 2-channel and rear 2-channel. You can choose whichever one you like, or both. The front version takes in a 90-degree stereo field, good for a small group of musicians, for example. The rear setting’s field is 120 degrees, better for a larger group.

For my music recordings, even though I recorded in 4-channel mode, I only used the rear track since I was recording a fairly large group and didn’t need anything from my direction. What really fascinated me, though, was the way it worked for my interview with Erynn Marshall of the Blue Ridge Music Center.

I held the mike about halfway between the 2 of us, so the front channel got my voice and the rear channel got hers. All around us was the ambient noise of people cleaning up after a concert by Doc Watson.

You can see what this looks like in this Amadeus wave file. Originally these were two separate files; I copied and pasted one into the other, after clicking “Add New Stereo Track.” So now there are 2 stereo tracks here. My voice is in the 2 upper channels, hers in the lower 2. You can easily see who speaks when.

What’s remarkable is that the makers of the H2 thought to flip the stereo image between front and back, so the surrounding ambience is correct even though they point 180 degrees opposite each other.

We’re still not at a satisfactory stereo image, though. So I click on the upper track (my voice) and click “Merge With Next Track”. Voila! one single track with nice stereo ambience, and both of our voices in the middle.

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I was interviewed today by Wilmington’s NBC affiliate, WECT. Here’s a link to the clip.

They identified me as news director (corrected at the end of the piece), and once called now-former NPR CEO Vivian Schiller “Schillinger”, but overall it catches the essence of the problem and focuses on the local stations, which is where the emphasis should be.

The big issue is the “Congress cutting funding for NPR” trope that is is ultimately misleading. I carefully explained that NPR doesn’t get much Corporation for Public Broadcasting money, stations do. The target may be NPR, but the bull’s-eye is painted on stations like WHQR.

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Well, Helen and T.C.’s little boy made the news again. The Wilmington Star-News did a profile of me in today’s paper, complete with a picture that looks like I’m trying out for “WHQR 3-D”. Here ’tis.

Wilmington has definitely exceeded my expectations. I went to a rather glittering banquet last night for the Willie Stargell foundation, which raises money for kidney dialysis care at Cape Fear Regional Medical Center here in Wilmington. Stargell of course was a legendary player for the Pittsburgh Pirates who died of kidney failure; his widow Margaret is from Wilmington.

Thanks to her dynamite family and friends (probably a couple of hundred), they had a great turnout. Everywhere you looked there was a sports legend. I had a nice conversation with the great ex-Pirate pitcher Kent Tekulve, who was at my table. It’s been a while since I went out in public in a tux, out of consideration for the public weal.

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Here in Wilmington we have been soaked, drenched, waterlogged, sodden and just plain wet all week. Over 20 inches have fallen since Monday of this week — as much as typically hits during a serious hurricane. Water Street, one block from the WHQR offices, was flooded on Thursday. Two of WHQR’s crackerjack reporters, Michelle Bliss and Rod McClain, filed stories with NPR about the flooding.

But today the skies are clearing, the river is full, Riverfest starts this weekend and the beaches are not too crowded with turistas. Here’s a very nice article about me by Bob Workmon in Wilmington’s Beat magazine. Bob’s a great radio guy and a great writer guy as you can see — in short, a great guy in all respects.

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Update 8/12/10: John Kiesewetter’s blog in the Cincinnati Enquirer also has a story about my move.

From today’s Star-News Online, Wilmington, NC:

“Wilmington’s public radio station finally has a new station manager after going nearly 19 months without one.

Cleve Callison, a native of Gaffney, S.C., will join WHQR on Sept. 7.”

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How do you envision the way people use your website? According to Steve Krug, web designers think “great literature” (or at least “product brochure”), but users think “billboard going by at 60 miles an hour.”

The notion above comes from Krug’s book Don’t Make Me Think. There’s a chapter called “How we really use the web” on his site, Advanced Common Sense. It’s sobering reading if you’re a designer, but probably a lot closer to how people do use the web. Some of his other points:

  • We don’t read web pages. We scan them.
  • We don’t make optimal choices. We satisfice.*
  • We don’t figure things out. We muddle through.

Problem is, designers are people who DO like to figure things out.

This chapter is well worth a look. There are powerful implications for my career field, radio, which I’ll explore in different blog post.

*Satisfice was coined by economist Herbert Simon as a cross between “satisfying” and “sufficing” in Models of Man: Social and Rational (Wiley, 1957).

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