Then-now A guide to the radio programme
Authors: Cartwright, A. and Street, S.
Publisher: Soundscape Productions
Place of Publication: Soundscape Productions
This guide to the ‘radio-poem’ – ‘Then-Now’ includes the complete text of Seán Street’s poetic narrative used in the programme and a short commentary on the thinking behind the production of this experimental feature. You certainly don’t need to follow this guide to enjoy the ‘radio-poem’ it merely attempts to explain some of the ideas behind the production of the programme and how the recorded minutes were used. And, of course, it might help all the people who recorded a minute of their day at 6pm on November 9th last year to find their own recording within the layers of sound. Without all those wonderful volunteers this programme would not have been possible – many, many thanks to you all.
When all the ‘minutes’ started to arrive at the Soundscape Productions office by email, post and by hand I began to hear a highly eclectic mix of recordings, both in terms of content and audio quality, but I was determined to use every recording submitted - a total of 120 minutes. With such a diverse range of material there were hundreds of ways in which I could have combining the sounds – I could have made many different programmes out of the same material. [Having heard the programme on transmission tonight there are many things I could/would change!] Initially I divided the material into various themes – based on what people were doing at that time of day – working, commuting, cooking, playing and socialising/meetings.
I like to think that making a radio feature is rather like composing a piece of music – you introduce ideas, develop them add new opinions develop these and see how all the various views interact with one another. I decided that the ‘radio-poem’ should have a musical structure – a ‘symphony of sound’ in seven movements with an ‘overture’ and a ‘coda’. Seán’s poem was written at the same time as I was listening and editing and we became increasingly excited about the project through a series of long-distance phone conversations – bouncing ideas off one another. We gave ourselves a self-imposed deadline of 9th December to complete the process of editing and record the linking poetic narrative. This meant that the programme was recorded on the 9th, compiled on the 9th and transmitted on the 9th of three consecutive months. And that’s the only reason we chose the 9th November as the recording date. We did think about the idea of recording on a significant date – Bonfire night, Halloween etc. but, as Seán said, that would have made the recordings like posed photographs and not snap-shots of life – which was what we wanted. The poem and the whole of Seán’s introduction to the programme [the script of which can also be downloaded] was recorded and mixed at Gemini Audio Productions in London by Lance England and most of the editing and final mastering was completed by Warwick Pilmer at Clipstore in Leeds. So thanks are also due to them for their patience and understanding. Again thanks to everyone in involved in the project from BBC Radio 4 to all our contributors who gave a minute of their day to be part of this radio-experiment – ‘Then-Now’