When is MoJo not #MoJo?

The iOS app stores are full of linear audio recording apps that, frankly, do little more than the inbuilt Voice Memos app that ships with every new iPhone.  What is the point in recording audio on one device before transferring it to a laptop for editing when the iPhone can do it perfectly well?  Why buy a £600 iPhone when you can buy a Marantz PMD661MK2 for £399 (including VAT) that does exactly the same job but with (balanced and therefore better) XLR inputs?  The only reason to use an iPhone to record audio on is if you prepare the finished piece on the device as well.

I use an iPhone as my ONLY audio recording device.  I’ve done so since August 2008 when I bought a 3GS .  The days when a reporter could file raw audio into a radio station and expect somebody on the desk to edit it, spruce it up, top and tail it, mix it and send it into the CMS are long gone.  Reporters need to take control of the material they’re gathering and send it in to base in a finished form.  I know of radio stations in the UK where the Drivetime news presenter is also the producer and reporter for their own programme.

So can we just accept that 98% of the audio recording apps on the iOS store are a waste of time and money …and if you don’t agree then you’re not working in the same type of environment that most news reporters are having to cope with nowadays?

Which brings me to the reason that apps need to be able to mix multitrack audio – like Voddio does (still the only multi-track app that was designed for reporters, not musicians).  Even a simple voxpop – the bread and butter of a reporter’s life, needs mixing.  Environmental background noise needs matching, answers need to dip in and out and audio needs to be moved around.  Instead of a series of hard edited, badly organised interviews you get a fluid, nicely mixed montage.  And it’s all done onsite (normally in a coffee shop with wifi) before it’s filed into your radio station’s CMS for playout by the studio.

So here are some examples of audio, recorded on an iPhone, edited on an iPhone, mixed on an iPhone and filed on.. you’ve guessed it.. an iPhone. They’re not the best mixed pieces but it’s the speed of turnaround that’s important – on a daily basis I need to turn audio round and have it ready to broadcast within the hour.  In days gone by I’d have butt-jointed a load of loosely edited clips on a minidisc machine.  It would have sounded awful.  Hopefully these sound a bit better.  Copyright on all pieces is held by the BBC.  So don’t steal them!

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1. Nurseries

The Government announces it wants to change the size of nursery classes.  Owners are furious at suggestions they just ‘look after children’ from 9-6.  I went to a nursery at 3pm and recorded this.  I edited it in the car and filed it to the studio within an hour.

2. Christmas Floods

At 1100 I’m sent on a 150 mile drive to Cockermouth in Cumbria for a piece to go out on air before 1700.  The drive takes three hours.  I cold-call and record three interviews with people who’ve spent 12 months getting over the floods which hit the town at Christmas the year before.  Two days earlier the Christmas Carol concert had taken place.  My friends at BBC Radio Cumbria had been here and emailed me some audio.  The piece was mixed in a tea shop, filed from the phone and on the air at 1650.

3. Brownies’ Centenary

As they reach their 100th birthday I went along to a Brownies meeting in Rossington near Doncaster.  Audio turnaround time: 45 minutes.

4. Dementia: Amsterdam Style

Hogeway is a home for people with Dementia.  I went to do a piece for Radio 4’s You & Yours programme.  It took a little longer – a train journey to the airport, an hour’s wait for the plane and half an hour in the air.  As I came off the plane, I hit send and by the time I’d gone through Customs the piece was sitting in the producer’s inbox.

5. Goths in Whitby at Halloween

Self explanatory.  Piece was edited in a hotel room, filed via 3G and the next morning I broadcast on Luci Live on the iPhone and talked into the package I’d cut the night before.  Glad I’d taken a charger…

6. Ched Evans to Oldham Athletic?

it looks like Oldham may sign a convicted rapist.  This married couple almost came to blows over it.

7. An Explanation of Phonics

This one’s interesting in that there are over 60 edits in it.  Should teach my 5 year old daughter to read more fluently…

8. Margaret Thatcher’s Funeral.. from a Mining Town’s Point of View

35 minutes to package the audio up from the day in Goldthorpe – a tight turn around but some of the audio I’d managed to record really made the piece come alive.

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