The Production Process
Over 600 people receive Sheffield Talking News cassettes and CDs each week so the process of production and distribution has to be organised effectively

The service currently has around 60 local volunteers, most giving just a few hours every few weeks. There are many tasks involved in the smooth weekly production cycle. Volunteers all give their time to ensure that each and every listener receives their tape of the news on time, and in good condition.

The Weekly Tape
On Monday morning the process of producing the weekly
Audio News tape begins. Sacks of returning cassettes from the previous week are delivered by the Royal Mail to our offices in Mappin Street.

Yellow coloured wallets are used with velcro closures and have a panel for the recipient's address which when reversed shows that of STN. Each one is booked back by scanning the reversible return paid label.

Each audio tape ( a standard 80 minute compact cassette) is taken out of its pouch and wiped with an electromagnetic tape eraser. This cleans them for use and ensures optimum sound quality for the next recording.

Returned cassettes are rewound if necessary and checked against the database of current STN listeners.  A further check is made to see if a message or letter from the listener has been included.

The new pouches are prepared with address labels and are then ready for use again. Meanwhile the studio is cleaned and any notices to be read on the week's tape are prepared.

During the preceding week one of the team of volunteer editors will have been reviewing the local newspapers either by taking cuttings or using email feeds direct from the publishers.  No censorship of articles take place. However lengthy reports may edited if the key points can be extracted.

Recording
Early on Monday evening the editor distributes the articles to be read among 4 script folders for use by that night's team of 4 readers (usually 2 male and 2 female)

By 6:30 p.m. the team of 4 readers and a volunteer recording technician  sit around a small table with microphones positioned ready to establish recording levels for each reader. The session is not recorded "as live" so corrections can be made as the recording progresses. These days we use a computer to record the articles but previously recorded onto a master cassette which would be rewound if a reader made a mistake. . However the master file is not edited after the recording. Readers are expected to read the articles without bias to reflect the piece as written. Readers try to use a way of speaking similar to that they would use if present as a guest in the room of the listener. Occasional mistakes are not corrected as they would not be in normal conversation and our Readers try hard not to sound like BBC news readers concentrating on correct "received" pronunciation. We are after all trying to record local news for local listeners.

Copying The Cassettes
On Tuesday morning the duplication and dispatch team of volunteers check the operation of a bank of fast tape duplicating machines which are controlled by the PC which has copies of the previous evening's recording. A number of CDs (over 200) are also produced for those listeners who prefer to listen to them along with over 50 usb memory sticks

Quality Control & Dispatch

All tapes, CDs and Memory Sticks are quality checked and any faulty ones are rejected.

 

Once all 200 plus tapes and 200 plus CDs and 50 plus Memory Sticks are copied and checked they are placed in yellow pouches which have previously been sorted and made ready with the listener's address labels visible.
Each week's news (sometimes accompanied by a quarterly magazine) -secured inside the reusable yellow plastic envelope - is then
placed in a sack ready for collection later in the day by Royal Mail. Listeners will usually receive their recordings within 2 days.