The Dark Room Magic of NPR
Have you wondered how everyone on National Public Radio (NPR) sounds so smooth, so perfect … and so amazingly articulate?
And thanks to John Solomon of NPR’s On the Media, we now know the dark room magic tricks NPR uses to make everyone sound so smooth, so perfect, and so articulate. [You can stream the audio (real media file) or read the transcript.]
In Solomon’s story, we learn NPR makes media sausage by cleaning up and tightening sound-bites through editing out all the ‘uh’s’ and ‘um’s’ from correspondents and interviewees. (Be sure to listen to the audio stream and hear exactly how the raw sound-bite sounds compared to the polished sound-bite. The difference is striking.)
Since radio is ‘theater of the mind,’ it’s easier to slice/dice sound-bites without the listener knowing. Whereas in television, the viewer immediately knows when edits have been made because they can see the cutaway and the jump cut.
We also learn the Car Talk guys sometimes pipe in their own recorded laughter to goose their seemingly off-the-cuff humor.
Solomon also demystifies how NPR gathers and uses ambient sounds to pepper stories filed by correspondents in the field.
And, Solomon explores the issue of how NPR implies interviews are live by saying ‘so and so joins us to talk about whatever.’ When in reality, the interview may have been taped earlier in the day.
Since podcasts are all the rage now with amateur anchors producing their own audio programs, these dark room magic tricks from NPR could help improve the listening quality of most podcasts I’ve heard.
Then again, those who know me know I am the last person who can point the finger at others (podcasters) for not speaking fluently.