Friday, October 01, 2010

NPR pimpin' studio space

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This policy is, of course, going to affect the ppl who can least afford it: self-trained, low income, learning disabled, etc. If I had to pay that much, I couldn't produce, for sure. And NPR is very specific on their quality requirements; they might not accept something home made.

I think it might have been smart to write a grant to defray expenses here.

I understand there's a recession and all? But pimpin' out the studios?! Ugh. I can see my local radio station doing that and it would devastate local programming.

'course, I don't expect my puny, gimpy, trashy voice to have any influence, and it's not like I live near an NPR studio; I don't even live near a gas station. But I've been to DC and I know it's heavily low income and folks of color, so I'm thinking this makes NPR even more exclusive.

I just wanted to fill everybody in on some new practices regarding use of NPR studios to mix pieces.

First of all, the use of NPR studios to mix pieces is not an issue for most independents. Many independents are among the pace-setters in using digital technology to produce audio stories, and we’ve learned a great deal from you about the complexities -- and ease -- of using audio editing software and sending audio files over the internet. So, this will not apply to most of you, but I wanted to update everybody.

NPR is going to start charging independents to use NPR studios to track and personally mix pieces. The charge will be a minimum possible fee to cover our costs: $40/hour for a one microphone room, $60/hour for a two microphone room, and $60/hour for piece production in a studio with an engineer. The new fees go into effect on Monday, October 11.

Here’s the reason: NPR is taking advantage of the opportunities of digital technology. Work that used to be done in a studio with an engineer, such as recording interviews and mixing pieces, is now done in self-operated production rooms. We have created a workflow for our engineers and for our studios that no longer accommodates the equivalent of analog-era production. To do so, disrupts the efficient use of our studios and often requires scheduling an engineer on overtime.

NPR reporters and correspondents have moved to digital software to produce and submit pieces or elements. The same expectation is now being applied to independents. NPR has producers available to mix pieces for any reporter or correspondent – staff, station or indie -- who wants or needs to send elements and leave the mixing to us. As I say, most independents already send finished pieces or elements for us to mix, so this changes nothing for the great majority of you. But if anybody wants to continue to use a studio to track or to mix a piece, the charges will apply. (Yes, there may be exceptions when breaking news calls for last-minute tracking in an NPR studio. But, exceptions will be rare and, as a rule, the fees will apply.)
We do not expect everybody to snap her or his fingers and switch practices without help. As always, NPR will provide guidance and training for anybody filing pieces. NPR’s Charlie Mayer ( is available to discuss software options and equipment needed to properly track on computers and to send elements over the internet. Charlie can also put you in touch with an NPR sound engineer who can critique the technical aspects of your work. Jeff Towne also does terrific, comprehensive, readable reviews in the Tools column on, and AIR’s Radio College [
] is a rich repository of tutorials and articles. Paul Ingles, NPR’s liaison with the independent community, is also always available for consultation and support. He can be reached at. If Paul can’t answer a question, he’ll be glad to refer anybody to the right person at NPR.
Thanks very much and please let me know if you’ve got any questions.


Stu Seidel
Deputy Managing Editor, NPR News

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