I have had a couple of people ask “where do you make this awesome podcast? – it sounds so great” (well maybe the first bit and I added the second bit). This gives me a good opportunity to do a show and tell about where it all happens.
The podcast is recorded in the production room of 2WCRFM the local community radio station situated in the grounds of the Coonabarabran Showground. Here in Australia, remote and rural communities often have a small localised broadcaster that is run by volunteers from the community. 2WCRFM 99.5 is one of these stations.
2WCRFM is self funded through sponsorship by local businesses and by applying for applicable grants. The station is extremely well run and organised, and plays a wide variety of shows (I present one on Wednesday afternoons – all 80s hits – listen in when you are in town).
The infrastructure of 2WCRFM was scoped, put together and is maintained by Bob Dean, Telescope Systems Manager for the AAO. Bob is a tireless worker who was awarded with 2011 Citizen of the Year for his good works in the community and especially with 2WCRFM. Bob is the longest serving member of staff at the AAT, and I will get him on a podcast to talk about the evolution of astronomy as he has seen it at Siding Spring.
Astronomers drive down from Siding Spring in the afternoon after they wake up (usually around 3pm) for their interview. The observatory is about 20kms away along Timor Rd, a road that has a 100km speed limit, but is often where wildlife like to hang out and scare the pants off anyone if they can.
I give them a tour of the studio, and then sit them down for a chat in the hot seat (well it’s a comfortable chair, but I like to be DRAMATIC) to get sound levels and to allay any nerves. And then we talk for about 40 minutes, take some photos and they are off; usually using the opportunity to go into town to have a coffee or a meal.
You haven’t heard any yet but I also go to remote locations (like the upcoming South Pacific Star Party) to interview astronomers in person. For the technically minded I use a Zoom H2n with accessories which has great sound quality and those all important XY microphone configurations (as well as a 5 mic setup).
Lastly for REALLY remote interviews then it’s the old standby Skype with Pamela as the recorder. At this stage I am looking at how to improve sound quality for those types of interviews as I really prefer listening to the studio type of podcast – but that won’t stop me putting out any Skype interviews…there’s just too many interesting things happening out there!