Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Red Wagon of Culver City

After months of the planning, overseas travel, reporting, and scripting it all comes down to what we call in the radio biz the “final mix.” And it’s my job to make sure the final mix is flawless. If you’ve ever worked in radio, you know the process it takes to complete the final program isn’t as easy as it sounds.

We entrust this momentous task to Rima Snyder of Red Wagon Audio.

Like Larry Josephson, Rima works from the comfort of her home. Her Culver City, California house was built on what used to be the back lot of MGM Studios, so it somehow seems fitting that the final mix happens in the shadows of Hollywood.

There are dozens of people who could engineer the final mix, but why fix something when it isn’t broken? Rima has worked the past six Stanley Foundation/KQED radio specials. My ProTools skills aren’t too shabby, but Rima is a PT whiz.

With Rima’s trusty dog Willa at our feet, Rima works her magic as I offer up direction, suggestions and comments.

It doesn’t take long to reach the point every producer dreads: trimming the script to fit the clock. I long for the day when I can honestly say we added material to a show!

It’s easy to get married to every single piece of audio we intended to put into the show. That’s why it is sometimes downright painful to leave fabulous material on the imaginary “edit room floor.” It takes countless text messages, IM exchanges, e-mails, and conference calls with Simon and Keith. Rima patiently awaits the final decision (and offers up condolences as she trims away).

We successfully hit the magic time of 52:59 today. It will take us a few more days to “polish” up the final product. Anxious to hear the final result? Beyond Fear: America’s Role in an Uncertain World debuts on KQED Public Radio on May 9 at 8:00pm PDT. National distribution begins the next day.

--Kristin McHugh

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