Getting on air: Audacity

At yesterday’s meeting of the Programming Team, we talked about some of the steps we need to get through before we can get on-air and start filling in a weekly programming schedule. For our next meeting at the studio, on Sunday November 21 at 5:00 PM, we’re going to collaboratively rough out a weekly schedule. Everyone is supposed to show up with some idea of the musical genres we want to find music for and schedule around the week; also, we’re each expected to show up with at least three candidates for syndicated spoken-word or public-affairs programming so we can fill in a good amount of spoken content alongside the music.

Another thing we talked about was training as many people as possible to use Audacity, which is free open-source software for manipulating digital audio. In the beginning, we’re each going to use Audacity to create a public-service announcement (PSA) or a station ID.

To get started, download Audacity from here, making sure to select the one that matches the operating system on your computer. Install it on your computer. At the same time, if you plan to export your sound files as MP3s, you need to download and install the LAME MP3 Encoder. The first time you use Audacity to export to MP3, it will ask you to point it to the place where you installed LAME MP3 Encoder; once you do that the first time Audacity will remember where to find it.

Audacity is a pretty complex little piece of software, but luckily there is a lot of documentation available: the built-in Help system is pretty good, and you can download a manual as a PDF or view it online.

The best way to get started is to go to Import Audio… under the Project menu. Find an MP3 or other sound file somewhere on your computer and pull it into Audacity. Now you will see the waveform (like what you’d see on an oscilloscope) and you can start to manipulate the file. Your imagination is just about the only limit in terms of what you can do: fade in/out, echo, wah-wah, tremolo, reverse the sound, speed it up or slow it down, and on and on.

So for our next meeting we’re supposed to see how far we can get sound sources, ours or others’, to come up with a little snippet that we might put on air to identify the station or get some message across. Should be interesting.

Categories: CJMP Website

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