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The show must go on

A black and white photo of a working dog talking into a very old-fashioned public telephone
The unofficial mascot of Communication Mixdown

The pandemic has been throwing up challenges for everyone. Radio as a medium has continued, and fortunately a lot of work can be moved online.

I've been working with John Langer from Communication Mixdown to find a solution to conducting a phone interview away from the studio. John is an experienced broadcaster with a background in teaching radio, but his knowledge base is firmly in the analogue world and he was looking for a modern solution.

I looked at this challenge from two angles: accessibility and audio quality. I felt a mobile phone app was a good compromise.

I went with a mobile phone app because I feel like a phone call sounds a bit better than an internet call. I also felt like a mobile phone app would be easy to use.

I tested a number of apps and found one that would record a phone call and save it in the uncompressed wav format. Audio must be severely compressed to travel over the internet or phone in real time. It's impressive how much audio data can be taken out while still retaining intelligible speech. Adding another layer of compression in the form of the mp3 codec seems like asking too much especially when the final radio show will be saved once again as an mp3 for online transmission. This is why it was important to find an app that would record in wav. Unfortunately the app then quickly updated and removed this feature, but John's version of the software is still working.

In the end we found a suitable solution that balanced the need for audio quality with technology that was accessible for John.

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