This post is mostly two weeks old – I’m only just getting round to wrapping it up now, though the programmes mentioned have all been superseded.
I’m back at International Crisis Group, as a consultant to help them with podcasting while the regular comms team is more busy than usual. I’m basically the podcast editor in production terms, while also looking into workflows and systems to help continue the decidedly impressive run they’ve made at podcasting.
For some background: Crisis Group aims for a high-end market – opinion formers, government and NGO staff, influential people. The main product is reports – the finest ground work and analysis. Greyscale rather than two-tone, 96KHz rather than…8.
And for me, this is interesting. I’ve been stubbornly refusing to go back to news for the best part of a year now, in order not to dull my creative ears.
So last night, ten days in, was the big test. Dinner eaten, on the air bed with the light off and the cans on.
First up was Francesca Panetta’s latest sound walk for the Guardian. It was an area I had recorded at before on a course with Chris Watson, so had an idea of the place, mixed aural and visual. But after a few minutes, I put it down and moved on.
This was slight grounds for concern. I really should be getting it, but wasn’t.
So next, joy of joys, that day’s Radiolab. A short, but still, Radiolab, and about animal sounds, so something I’ve focused on and enjoyed. And still, it took a while, in the dark and in cans, yeah it took 15 minutes plus, before I was awed. So it was still there, but being dulled already?
The same day, I had an item on Short science, about left handednes. I recorded, edited, and submitted it entirely on Hindenburg on the iPhone, mostly to see if I could. But when I heard it, I realised it was just me talking for a few minutes. Maybe the environment was getting under my skin already?
Well, it’s an environment that values fact-heavy speech, as the next best thing to pages of thoroughly researched and debated text. The staff – extraordinary experts – are from academic backgrounds. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they are any less creative than anyone else – indeed in this absurd city I feel more creative than pretty much anywhere else!
Collaborators: here I deal with a different range of situations, and because of those around me, become better at life in Belgium than I would otherwise be. But the collaboration of radio, of creative audio? Well there’s my pocket radio, for VRT and Panik and Campus and RTBF, and there’s a big white and yellow train that dives into the dark and delivers me to Kings Cross, and In The Dark…