Remote possibilities: How Covid changed the way we do radio
Lockdowns, loo roll shortages … it’s easy to dwell on the negatives when we think back about how our lives were impacted by the Covid pandemic.
But one thing it did do was make us think outside the square and discover the potential for doing things remotely.
Nowhere was that more apparent than in the radio industry.
I’m the first to admit that pre-Covid, I knew zip about Zoom.
Come lockdown, we were Zooming ourselves silly, using it for everything from staff meetings to Friday night drinks, not to mention radio and podcast interviews.
This really hit home to me recently when I got up at seven o’clock on a Saturday morning, only to find my radio host hubby Kev on a Zoom call with Barry Williams.
Yep, Greg Brady from The Brady Bunch.
As I sleepily wandered into the kitchen in search of my first coffee for the day, I thought I must have been hallucinating.
Just few weeks later, Kev’s phone alarm went off at 3.30 in the morning, for his scheduled interview direct from the US with Huey Lewis, for the Life of Brian … Mannix, That Is podcast.
But if you think that’s a pretty darn amazing example of making the most of today’s technology, imagine travelling the world whilst simultaneously producing and presenting your regular radio programs.
Fellow radio host and Classic Hits Countdown presenter Gavin Miller (main photo) drew widespread admiration – not to mention envy – when he did just that.
Gavin tells Radio Today he’d been dreaming of making his work life portable for a long time before he actually took the plunge.
And he’d been thinking about it well before the pandemic hit.
“The desire to work remotely had already been there for many years before Covid. It’s something my partner and I talked about all the time: ‘What if we could work remotely and travel whenever we want to?’”
“One of the main advantages of working this way is that I don’t have to take holidays during survey breaks anymore.”
“So, with this new freedom that working anywhere brings, why not be away for a few months at a time?”
When it came to the technical aspect of working remotely, Gavin says Covid accelerated the learning curve.
“I used a chunk of lockdown time to learn how to produce my own shows in Logic Pro. It was time well spent.”
Making sure he was well prepared was a confidence booster.
“Once I had the first week’s worth of shows recorded and uploaded, I knew I could do it, and I started to loosen up a little.”
“I just wanted to make sure I could get the job done and not let anyone at ACE down in terms of delivering content from wherever I was.”
“The ACE Radio team are a pretty amazing bunch of people to work with. Dave Brunton in particular, who is based in Albury, babysat everything at the Australian end.”
“No way could I have done this without the extraordinary support I get from ACE.
Gavin says the only equipment he needed was his RØDE mixing desk, RØDE Procaster mic, a mic stand, a couple of cables and his MacBook Pro.
“That’s it. It took about a minute to assemble. (I’ve since upgraded to a newer smaller version of the RØDE desk – the Duo. Those things are cleverer than 90% of the radio panels I have ever worked with in proper studios. An amazing bit of kit.)”
Putting together his shows proved more challenging in some countries than others.
“There was a temporary hassle In Switzerland where they have these funny diamond shaped power outlets that you need a specific adaptor for, not just your normal EU charger.”
“Slow internet is the enemy, but in EU that’s rarely a problem.”
“The other challenge is getting consistent sound in various hotel rooms and Airbnbs. I began to really, really dislike tiled floors, and there were a few occasions where I recorded under a doona.”
Looking back on the experience, Gavin wouldn’t change a thing.
“It was exhilarating and at times a tiny bit exhausting, combining sightseeing with getting the work done every day.”
“But I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.”