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Tom Krymkowski

Podcasting Found MeBy Tom Krymkowski

ďHello, Tom? This is Jack Harrington. Iím a writer for OíReily and Iím working on a book called Podcasting Hacks. Stacy Bond gave me your name and said you were the guy to talk to. The section Iím working on now is on filters. Could I set up some time to come by and ask you about some of this stuff?Ē

That was the first I heard the word ďPodcasting.Ē A few Google searches later, I still didnít quite see what the big deal was. In fact, at the time, it wasnít a big deal. So people were producing poor quality audio shows and offering them online. So what? They had been doing that for a while. Now I had an author, who knew nothing about putting together a radio show, asking me about filters.

Iíve been training people on the technical side of radio production for a few years now. Iím always being asked about what microphone to buy, what recording device is best, what software to use. My answer this time was the usual, ďthat depends on what you mean by filtersÖĒ

Fast forward a few days. Jack comes over and I show him a few things on the computer. Or at least I tried. We quickly discovered that I didnít have the answers he was looking for. For his book he was trying to distill audio engineering theory into a few equalizer settings. It kept coming back to uncertainties. I usually work to improve the quality of a recording. He wanted effects.

Now Iím not knocking Jack. He had done his homework and knew enough to ask the right questions. He was at the learning stage when you want to take the amount of information you have and try to do big things with it. Fair enough. So in keeping with the spirit of the afternoon, I tried to distill my ďtricksĒ on making a good edit sound great. A good audio editor will be able to make a splice that you canít hear. My argument is that a great editor will make a splice that flows.

I tried to put that flow idea into simple terms for him to use in his book. Itís just like looping music - live with turntables or using software. A good mix is seamless, if thatís what youíre trying to do. The current music sets the rules. You have to match tempo and feel to make it through the transition to the next piece of music. After that the new music sets the pace. And so on. If youíve ever tried to dance to a bad DJ, and had to start and stop to adjust to the beat of the next song, you know what Iím talking about. (I hate that!)

I would argue any two different pieces of audio can be put together, if you use the first one to determine when or where to place the second. Iím not talking content here, but context. Like all wonderful things in the world, itís both a science and an art, the practice of which keeps me employed for now.

So Jack asked me if I wanted to write a section on looping. I passed for a few reasons, but mostly because I think I want to put this all into a context. I didnít know what this was all for. And as a subject its own, there are greater authorities.

Now was my turn to ask questions.

Thoughts? Write Us.

Tom Krymkowski is a freelance Audio Engineer, Multimedia Producer, and Amateur Photographer living in San Francisco. He works as a Technical Advisor for npr's Next Generation Radio. When he's not on the road he farms out his skills to NPR station KQED-FM, The Pixel Corps, PodShow, and other Podcasters in the Bay Area and beyond.

Next Generation Radio:
A series of week-long student training projects, designed to give students who are interested in radio and journalism the skills and opportunity to report and produce their own radio story.
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