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The McDermott Scholars Award covers all expenses of a superb four-year academic education at The University of Texas at Dallas, in concert with a diverse array of intensive extracurricular experiences, including internships, travel, and cultural enrichment.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Working in Argentinian radio

For the last month or so I've been working at Radio Revés (88.7 FM) in Córdoba. The station is run by students in the communication school at the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, and does its best to give a voice to workers, women, students, and other groups underrepresented in the media.

My work there is usually doing production and editing. Most mornings we'll interview a couple of people on-air, and my job will be to take the 10-15 minute live, on-air interview and cut it into a 30-45 second clip for rebroadcast later in the program. It's really helping me with my Spanish because I have to be able to completely understand the whole interview in order to be able to pick out the salient parts for the soundbite. Plus, it's a fun game--cutting and pasting phrases together to help the interviewee say what they were trying to say more effectively than they actually did. Oh, and cutting out muletillas, throw-away words like digamos, equivalent to like or you see? in English.

On Tuesday, following the Virginia Tech incident, they had me on the air for a short segment during the morning show to talk about the difference in breaking media coverage of the event between U.S. and international media outlets. We were recording the live stream onto the second computer in the studio but it crashed while I was on the air, so I don't have a copy. If I go back on the air this week, I'll try again.

Because it's a university station, the operation is somewhat low-budget. The weak link in the whole process (as I found out Thursday) is not the rat's nest of wires that feeds into the mixer, nor the Windows 98 computer running two instances of Winamp and five of Firefox, nor even the poor little circuit breaker that supports this load for 16 hours a day.

No, the slow step is the baby-boomer air conditioner running full-blast that's stuffed into a 4-foot by 4-foot closet with the radio transmitter. Without the help of the little window unit, the transmitter generates enough heat to fry itself completely (they told me this was determined empirically). On Thursday the studio felt a little warmer than normal, we discovered that the air conditioner had quit. So about two minutes later, after a hasty on-air explanation of the circumstances, we went off the air for the morning.

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