Taking a Look at Radio Production with WONC’s Production Director

by Nick Keseric

If you listen to WONC for a bit, you might hear various pre-produced things that we play. We have a plethora of promos for various shows we have, public service announcements for various causes, and between every few songs, we play short audio clips known as “sweepers.” All of our material is produced by students here at WONC, but one student in particular is tasked with producing material – the Production Director.

If you listened in on the week of Halloween or on Thanksgiving, you might have heard some of our Production Director’s work. We’re also planning on releasing some new material for the upcoming holiday season. In light of that, I sat down with our current Production Director, Bryce, to talk about the art of producing material for the station.

Bryce is all about creating a picture with audio. Using vivid imagery to conjure some scene in the mind of the listener is where a lot of his best work lies. Bryce mentioned that for this Halloween, he “tried practicing with a binaural thing, experimenting with stereo sound trying to better convey a story of sorts.” Sound effects are very crucial for what Bryce does when he tries to “establish some sort of audioscape.” Because radio is a purely audio medium, producers need to use vivid sound effects and voices that immediately let the listener imagine what’s going on.

Production of material at the station is done by our Production Director, but we do have professional voice actors who provide voices for our work. This isn’t just so that we sound good; it gives our students a chance to work with and direct professional talent. In Bryce’s experience, a lot of the time they would “direct themselves,” and they’d be “really spot on or would take the material and put [their] own twist on it,” but there were times Bryce had to give them slight directions.

For Bryce, audio production is an “excellent creative output.” Despite being a lot of work, he finds audio production to be very rewarding. A lot of planning and pre-production goes into creating rather short clips of audio, but for Bryce, it’s a welcome change of pace from the other stuff he has to do as a college student. Prior to getting into audio production, Bryce worked a lot with video production as a creative out.

Getting into audio production, and becoming good at it, involved just producing a lot of stuff. Experimenting – like how Bryce experimented with stereo audio for Halloween – is the key to getting better.