Can you hear us pumping on your stereo?

No, no you can’t

A few months ago Darren, who used to run one of the websites that I write for but who now runs a radio station, messaged me asking if I’d be interested in doing a science based radio show. I told him that I’d love to and asked him if I could also host a music show as well. He said, “yes”, happy days I thought. The plan was that we’d do a live show every fortnight and each show would have a theme where each of the songs would be related to that theme.

Take 1

Anthony and I arrive at the studio – I’d roped Anthony in against his better judgement to co-host with me. Now, there are two computers that need to be set up. One in the studio which is connected to the mixing desk that you play all of the music through. The other, in the next room, that actually broadcasts the show out to the world. We switched on the studio one and managed to download all of our songs onto it via USB stick. The other machine is a Mac so it took me a couple of minutes just to find the on switch. Then it decided that it didn’t want to recognise the Bluetooth keyboard. Eventually, we get it sorted.

Back in the studio, we can only get one of the two microphones to work and then we the fader on it won’t work. This means that we have to stay quiet while the songs are playing. Literally, we just sit there in silence listening along.

We start the show and a couple of people message me that they can’t hear us and that the Auto DJ is still playing. So, we stop and try again. And again. And again. Try as we might, we can’t seem to get the Mac to play our show to the outside world. Eventually we give up.

No worries we think – we’ll record the show “as live” and then they can play it out whenever they like. What we don’t realise is that the software that is recording the show stops recording after about 33 minutes. We merrily carry on for the remaining 27 oblivious to this fact.

So, we’ve got half a show but it sounds pretty good. We’re feeling confident that we’re actually able to do this. In a couple of weeks, we’ll try and do this same show again and by then they’ll have fixed whatever the issue was with transmission machine.

Take 2

So, we’re all ready for our second attempt. Then a couple of hours before the show, I get a message saying that we can’t do it. The studio is right next to The Lofthouse, a live music venue and they’ve got a gig on. No matter how well insulated the studio is, there’s going to be a lot of bleed through from the gig.

Take 3

We go back in tonight, ready to do our “Election Night Special” – songs for Thatcher, Cameron and Gordon Brown in hand. But we’re locked out. We try the buzzer and no-one answers. Eventually, we only get into the building when a girl is coming out. The door to the venue and studio is locked. I get in touch with Darren and he tells me that he’s trying to sort it.

We wait. That’s what we did. And let me tell you tick followed tock. We have a beer, talk some nonsense about cricket and keep waiting. Then, we hear the buzzer going through the locked door. Someone else is outside the building, trying to get in. I head downstairs to investigate.

The lady who is trying the buzzer is trying to get in to set everything up for her spoken word evening in The Lofthouse. However, she does have the phone number of the guy who owns the building. He doesn’t answer the phone. Neither does his wife. Nor his son. At about ten to eight, a woman comes along with keys to let the spoken word people in.

I message Darren asking him if we’re still okay to do the show. “No”, he says, “there’s another [pre-recorded] show due to go out at 8” Right, again, we’ll try to record it. We have the same microphone problems – only one works, no faders. Only this time, we have problems getting the music-playing software to work.

We try the online help, click a few buttons and we get everything working through the mixing desk. But there’s a problem with the first song – there’s no vocals. It turns out that this is because the headphones are plugged into the wrong socket so we’re only hearing half of the stereo mix.

We fix it and start recording. An hour later, we say our final goodbyes as the last song finishes and we’re feeling pretty pleased with ourselves again. Time for a quick playback to hear how it sounds. The playback starts with around four minutes of silence before our voices come in. For some reason, despite all coming through the same mixing desk, the computer has only record the microphones and none of the music. By this point it’s 9:30 and we really don’t have the appetite to try and work out what went wrong, fix it and spend another hour recording.

Take 4?

Some people might get the hint and give up the whole thing as a bad idea. Anthony and I are a bit more stubborn than that. I think that we’ll probably move to doing a pre-recorded show rather than a live one but we’re determined to get this to work somehow. And at least we’re failing in different ways each time. That’s a good thing right?

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