At long last, I have attempted to record Hillbilly at Harvard at home. Once or twice in the past, when I attempted it, I quickly gave up in frustration. When I was in the studio at WHRB, I knew the board and the equipment (turntables and CD players in recent years) intimately. I programmed ‘on the fly’, scanning for the next track from CDs, LPs, and singles on a cart I rolled in from the library. I didn’t need to spend time figuring how to get a selection on the air.
Sure, it was living dangerously, and many times I ending up cueing (queue-ing, in proper spelling) up a record or CD while on the air, filling if necessary, but I could generally do it seamlessly. When you work ‘top-40’ style, breaking after every song, you have to rely on ‘muscle memory’ to keep things working without having to think about them.
Here at home I don’t have a proper broadcast board. I’m using an Allen-Heath mixer that I bought from Sweetwater after my Exile from WHRB in August, 2020. To record, I’m using a free copy of Studio1 software, designed for recording multi-track musical groups; the instruction manual is mostly foreign to me. My CD players are ancient multi-disk hand-me-downs, and the turntable a home Technics unit that jitters if you bump the desk and takes over half a turn to get up to speed.
I’m not complaining; just explaining why I was deterred from trying to replicate what I could do in a real broadcast studio. I do have a decent, but fraying pair of headphones, and a serviceable but limited Sennheiser microphone. You can see this Mickey-Mouse setup in the accompanying photograph.
Still, listeners keep asking me when I’m getting back live, so I thought I’d better give recording new shows a try. True, if recorded, they’re not really live, but at least they’ll be fresher than the Generic Hours I’ve been using, recorded in the studio for use on vacation days, and a change from the Archival shows, that mostly remind me how much fun it was in the old days.
It’s pretty awkward, but I’ve got a couple of hours that I’ll inflict on radio-land tomorrow. The two CD players are mismatched, with the select and play controls in different places, so I mess up a lot. I have to confess I edited out some complete disasters. And you will hear what I hope is an unfamiliar degree of uncertainty during the breaks. I did cheat a little by piling up a stack of CDs and LPs so I wouldn’t have to go looking for them; but I still had to decide on the song—tempo and content matter in my radio universe.
Let me know if you think it’s palatable. I can buy a modest imitation of a professional broadcast board for about a grand, a better mic, and two matched CD players that will actually play single songs without automatically continuing on to the next one on the disk. We’ll see—or we’ll hear. HHR tomorrow! Forewarned is forearmed. And I could use four arms! /CL