I'm sure many of you listening to the radio have wondered at some time how the shows are put together and so here is a brief summary of how it works at Seaside. At the studios at Shoreham by Sea, there are two ways that a presenter can build a show.
Some of our shows are live and some are recorded. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Most Seaside presenters favour one method or the other, but those who present live shows will sometimes record their shows for convenience, for example when they are away on holiday, or if they present a second show which is transmitted at an awkward time.
So how do we build a show?
Seaside has a wonderful computer software system called Myriad. This is a clever piece of kit which saves the day if a presenter is unable to come to the studio to present or record his/her show. It's why we are able to broadcast 24 hours a day, because it is an automated system. Left to its own devices, it would literally churn out automatic shows one after the other, complete with jingles and news bulletins. But without presenters, this would soon become very dull indeed for the listener.
The system is therefore set to construct a show in advance for the presenter - we could think of this as a show "skeleton". The system will choose the songs - this is pre-set dependent on the show type (rock, easy listening, classical, etc) and the time of day it's to be broadcast. It will also insert promos and jingles to suit. It will put together a complete show which would happily run without the presenter if need be, silently skipping the gaps prepared for the presenter's voice links.
Whether a show is live or recorded, the presenter will usually have prepared for his/her show by looking up information to read out about the songs or information on the history of that day, for example, birthdays, music chart data, finding quiz questions, etc. Good prep is important for any show and makes it much more interesting for the listener.
With a recorded show, the presenter first decides if any of the automatically chosen songs should be replaced with others from the computer's library. The songs are kept in audio files called "carts". Carts may be removed from the show's "skeleton" or swapped for other carts and once the presenter is happy with the show's basic format, he/she records the voice links in between the songs. Each hour is self-contained and the news is programmed for two minutes at the top of each hour, so a presenter must make sure that the finished show does not exceed the maximum time. The Myriad system will then make fine adjustments where necessary to make the hour fit absolutely perfectly.
The recorded show is a boon for presenters who absolutely cannot be at the studio at the time their programmes go out on air. It has the disadvantage of course that real-time audience interaction is not possible, but for those presenters who work full-time they may have no option but to record their shows in advance.
With a live show, the presenter literally overrides the automatic system. At this point, he/she has absolute control over whether songs are played from the computer or from a CD player or even from a turntable. It's a bit like flying a plane, with a cockpit full of controls in front of you! There are no voice links as in recorded shows; the presenter simply talks live via the microphone. At the end of the hour, the presenter must watch the clock and time their music so that the show does not overrun and the news bulletin can be manually introduced.
The main advantage with a live show is that the audience can interact; telephone messages and requests can be taken throughout the duration of the show and the presenter can tune the show to whatever is happening at the time. He/she can make reference to the weather, for example, or topical news from that day. The mood of the show can develop as it goes along because the presenter "lives" it throughout. Songs which the Seaside computer library does not have may be brought in and played by the presenter, which allows a broader spectrum of music, particularly important for "specialist" shows.
So, next time you're listening to one of our shows, you'll know just how much hard work has been put into making it so enjoyable for you!
Incidentally, the header photo above shows the studio after Lynn and Richard finished recording their New Year's Eve slot - as you can see the studio was a bit of a mess, with streamers hanging over the microphone!