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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
200 plus tapes and 200 plus CDs and 50 plus Memory Sticks are copied and checked they
placed in yellow pouches
which have previously been sorted and made ready with the listener's address
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.