Doug and the Slugs is one of those bands that I came to appreciate over time. That I gradually realized I really liked as it dawned on me that they had several great songs. And one song in particular that I would place in the “love” category: Day by Day. It doesn’t hurt that I’ve seen them twice in concert, both lively, energetic and enjoyable shows. Nor does it hurt that there’s a slight personal connection. I was going to write a meaningful personal connection but that couldn’t be further from the truth; it’s actually a ridiculous personal connection. I’ll get into that in a bit.
I’m thinking about Doug and the Slugs now (and listening to more of their music) because I just watched the documentary Doug and the Slugs and Me by Teresa Alfeld on CBC Gem. It’s really a fine doc on this quintessential Canadian band, expertly crafted and features many of the Slugs and other interesting personalities such as Bob Geldof and Bif Naked and Ron Sexsmith (I have a personal connection to Ron Sexsmith too; a couple, actually, one even more ridiculous and embarrassing than the Doug and the Slugs connection, the other much more respectable: more on those in a bit).
Here’s what I used to think about Doug and the Slugs. I liked their music. I liked their energy. I was intrigued by their front man Doug Bennett. I had heard that he was a businessman who’d decided to form his own band and I inferred that he possessed a unique combination of skills that allowed him to do so. He could write music and sing (sort of, well enough) and I guessed that his businessman acumen and experience conferred upon him the ability to organize a successful band and all that that entailed. I was under the mistaken impression (a lot of mistaken impressions, really) that he’d started the band late in life. Then I’d heard that he had become ill on a grueling touring schedule before finally collapsing and dying in his early fifties. I’d always figured it was a heart attack. And that the rigours of touring had been a major contributing factor. At least, I’d thought, he died doing what he loved.
That’s what I’d always thought.
What I knew for sure was that he made some great music and put on an entertaining show. And that he was a character. At one open air show that I saw in Toronto he made a crack about all the “young, female flesh” hanging off the walls, which painted him forever in my mind as a rather salacious character. At another show, this time at the now defunct Forum in Toronto during a summer afternoon, I sat in the bleachers enjoying the show in my usual quiet, understated fashion when he pointed from the stage in my direction. Gradually I realized that he might be pointing at me. So I pointed at me too, and he immediately nodded, yes, you, asshole! And then he mimed clapping. Cuz everyone around me was clapping. So I began clapping, and he nodded, and then we were good, and even though I kinda hate clapping at concerts I kept on clapping because I was now obligated. (That was the ridiculous personal connection.)
That’s the extent of what I knew and thought I knew about Doug and the Slugs.
Teresa Alfed’s doc set me straight on a number of points and educated me on many others. Doug Bennett had actually started the band as a much younger man that I’d thought. He was a charismatic dreamer of a leader, and effective in that sense, but not much of a businessman. He wrote more of the material than I’d realized. He was a family man, but that had gone south, though he seemed like a pretty fun father. There had been two versions of Doug and the Slugs. One with the original Slugs, which had been fun and reasonably successful but not all sunshine and lollipops, and then, a while after their heyday, another iteration with Doug and a bunch of other guys. And it hadn’t been a heart attack that had killed Doug; it had been alcoholism.
For the latter reason I found Teresa’s documentary quite tragic. It’s the story of a man with a dream who kind of attained that dream for a bit, and then lost it, after which his demons crept up and polished him off. I HATE when that happens. When reality bites us in the ass. When the absolute worst happens. I hate the knowledge that it CAN happen, and all too often does. I feel for Doug Bennett and I feel for his family.
I think those of us who dabble in the arts can relate to Doug. We craft our art, our books or our music or whatever, and we hope that we’ll be successful at it. It takes us a while to define that success. At first, it’s a vague notion of becoming famous for it and making a lot of money at it. That does happen for some. It doesn’t happen for most. And then there’s those who get close, or get to taste it for a while, only to lose it, and then spend their lives trying to get it back. Like a kind of addiction. I think astronaut Chris Hadfield’s line applies here: Don’t be too in love with your past self (and you don’t have to have been famous to need that advice; simply having been young once also qualifies). And then of course there’s those who don’t make it at all. Doug Bennett falls into the second camp. As it stands now, I fall into the third. And I’m okay with that.
I’m okay with that because I now define artistic success as crafting art successfully. Actually, even just trying qualifies. And here’s the other thing: regardless of how much money Doug Bennett and his Slugs made (or didn’t), or how world famous they became (or didn’t), their music lives on. It’s enjoyed by millions. And it means something to millions. Day by Day got me through at least one rough patch in my life. I clung to it like a life-line and appreciate it still. I wish that Doug Bennett had lived to become an elder statesman of Canadian rock & roll and made several more albums worth of music and ultimately got to appreciate just how successful an artist he actually was. He sure would have had a lot of fun with the Barenaked Ladies, I think. They absolutely would have performed together.
The Ron Sexsmith stories. Once, as a callow youth, I saw the Ron Sexsmith Trio perform at C’est What, a Toronto club. They played the Beatles Dig a Pony, a song I didn’t know at the time but really enjoyed. I misheard the title as Lucifer’s Pony, for some reason. I used to drink a bit too much in those days, my early twenties. By the time they finished their set I was pretty drunk. Oblivious to bar band protocol, I approached Ron and asked him if they could play the song Lucifer’s Pony again. They politely told me to f*** off and finished packing up their instruments. Fast forward about twenty years and I was the recording engineer for CBC Radio’s Q. We had Ron Sexsmith on one day (no longer a trio). I had the privilege of recording him live for the show. He was terrific. I never mentioned C’est What or Lucifer’s Pony.
In the documentary Doug and the Slugs and Me, Ron performs a moving acoustic rendition of Day by Day, a song that includes this intriguing snippet of lyrics that, although he was certainly a fun-loving guy, I suspect comes from not too deep in Doug Bennett’s heart, and that we can all relate to at one time or another:
Sometimes late at night I I feel strangely blue Sometimes late at night I I need what I get from you
Day by day you show me a better way Day by day you help me to find a place Day by day you help me make it Day by day by day by day by day
I’m putting together a glossary of terms related to broadcasting, mostly about radio, for an upcoming book. I’ve attempted to put the definitions in my own words.
Here’s a draft.
Anybody care to check my work?
Any and all suggestions welcome.
Acoustic chamber: A small enclosed recording space with sliding glass doors located in Studio 212 (the drama studio) in the Toronto Broadcast Centre. It was used to replicate specific acoustic environments such as the interior of cars. No longer in existence.
Analog audio: The word analog itself (sometimes spelled analogue) means something comparable (analogous) to something else. In the case of sound, analog means recordings in a format (such as tape or vinyl) capable of reproducing continuous, uninterrupted vibrations comparable to the original sound waves.
Audio console: An electronic console used to combine audio from separate sources (such as microphones and musical instruments) and send that audio elsewhere, such as for broadcast or to a public address system or to record it. Sometimes called a “Board” or a “Mixing Desk.”
Audio Systems: What the CBC radio maintenance team used to be called.
Backtime: An instrumental piece of music used to end a radio show or part of a radio show over which the announcer spoke.
Baffles: An object or device used to reduce sound. We used large sound baffles on wheels in Studio 212 to create smaller acoustic environments simulating living rooms, offices etc. on the large studio floor.
Board: See Audio Console
Bounce: Create a two–track (stereo) version of a sound file from multiple tracks.
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC): Canada’s public broadcaster, a federal Crown Corporation funded by (but operating at arm’s length from) the Canadian government. “CBC” refers to the English language service; Radio-Canada refers to the French language service. CBC/Radio Canada also broadcasts in multiple aboriginal languages.
Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission (CRBC): Canada’s first public broadcaster. It came before the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation).
Capsule distortion: When a microphone overloads creating an unpleasant sound because it’s receiving too much acoustic information (everything is too loud for the microphone).
Carbon granule microphone: The first type of microphone. Essentially granules of carbon in an enclosure, one side of which is a thin metal or plastic diaphragm that compress the carbon granules when struck by sound waves. Capable of producing high level audio signals with very little power. Used in early AM radio and early telephones, and still used today in certain applications.
Cart: An industry standard endless-loop tape cartridge developed in 1952 under the brand name Fidelipac. From the fifties until the late nineties, radio stations used them to play every kind of audio material from music to stings to station IDs to sound effects.
Compression: A low concentration of air particles moving through space.
Compressor: A type of audio gear or software used to reduce dynamic range, which is the difference between low and high levels in a piece of audio.
Condenser microphone: A type of microphone that requires power (called “phantom power”) to function. Generally higher quality than dynamic microphones and used to record more delicate sounds.
Confidence clock: A clock in a studio connected to Radio Master Control with a countdown timer and a light (typically red) to let you know when you’re going to be on and off air.
Console: See Board.
Continuity: When audio can pass successfully from one location to another, such as from a studio to Radio Master Control.
Cue speaker: A small speaker on an audio console for auditioning audio before using that audio for a broadcast or recording. Also called pre-fade listen, or PFL.
Dalet: A networked desktop audio editing system used by CBC Radio from 1996 until it was replaced by DaletPlus .
DaletPlus: The networked desktop audio editing system that replaced Dalet, essentially a more sophisticated version of Dalet.
Digital Audio Tape (DAT or R-DAT): A recording and playback medium that was developed by Sony in the mid ‘80s.
D-Cart: Also called Digital Cartridge Editing System. A digital audio editing platform developed by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in the early nineties that CBC installed in 1993 and used until replacing it with Dalet in 1996.
Dead air: Unintentionally broadcasting silence.
Dead Room: An acoustic environment in Studio 212 with no hard surfaces for actors’ voices to reflect off, simulating an outdoor environment. No longer in existence.
Delay System: A system to record everything CBC Radio broadcasts to Atlantic Canada that plays that content back an hour later for the Eastern Time Zone, and so on to time zones further west until the content has been played back for the entire country. In this way every Canadian can hear their favourite show at exactly the same time, subjectively at least.
Destructive interference: When longitudinal sound waves are 180 degrees out of phase and cancel one another out, resulting in no sound.
Dialogue Edit: A small CBC Radio studio used primarily for editing dialogue tracks for radio plays. No longer in existence.
Digital Audio: A means of reproducing sound waves by accurately measuring and recording sufficient sonic information over a specific period of time to record the information as a sequence of numerical samples.
Direct Box: Instruments such as guitars can be connected directly to audio consoles via these small electronic devices, eliminating the need to mic the instruments.
Discrepancy: A deviation from the broadcast schedule as it was supposed to air. For example, when an announcer doesn’t show up for their show in time, resulting in dead air. See “Fault”.
Distortion: When the original shape of a sound wave is altered, often by increasing the gain. This can sound good with musical instruments, but it usually sounds bad with voices.
Double-ender: When an interviewer back in the studio talks to a guest on the phone while an audio technician records the guest out in the field. Afterward, back in the studio, a tech eliminates the poor phone-quality recording of the guest, replacing that recording with the high-fidelity recording done in the field.
Dubbing: Making a copy of a piece of audio.
Dynamic microphone: Dynamic microphones operate by suspending a coil of wire connected to a diaphragm inside a magnetic field. When sound vibrates the diaphragm, the coil vibrates and produces an electrical signal.
Equalization: Increasing or decreasing the volume of different frequencies of a selection of audio.
Euphonix System 5: A high end digital audio mixing console. The Euphonix System 5-B replaced the Neve Capricorn in Studio 212 in the summer of 2003. We liked it so much that in December of that year we put one in our Music Mobile recording truck.
Fader: A device used to increase or decrease the volume of audio. Physical faders typically slide along a track in a console. Virtual faders in digital consoles appear on screen.
Fault: See Discrepancy.
Feed: Audio content distributed across Canada, and sometimes to and from other countries, to be used on various CBC Radio shows.
Feedback (acoustic): An unpleasant screeching noise usually considered undesirable (except in certain kinds of music) created when a microphone picks up an audio signal and broadcasts it via a speaker back into that same microphone at sufficient gain and at just the right frequency to ensure a feedback loop. Also known as the Larsen effect after the Danish scientist Søren Absalon Larsen, who first discovered the principles of audio feedback.
Foley: Creating sound effects for radio plays, television and film. Named after sound effects artist Jack Foley, who originated the technique for film.
Gain: How loud the audio (input) is before it’s processed.
Hourlies: CBC Radio newscasts broadcast at the top of very hour, four and a half minutes long, and read by a single news announcer.
ISDN(Integrated Services Digital Network): At CBC Radio we used ISDN units at to broadcast remotes. They were basically high falutin’ phone lines. We’d plug the output of our remote console into an ISDN unit which would in turn be connected to a phone line to transmit the audio back to the Toronto Broadcast Centre, from where it would be broadcast. The official definition is “a set of communication standards for simultaneous digital transmission of voice, video, data, and other network services over the digitalised circuits of the public switched telephone network.”
Lavalier mic: A small microphone intended to be unobtrusive, usually with a clip allowing it to be attached to clothing.
Lining up: Making sure the audio from a studio can reach radio master control before a broadcast. Involves a time check as well to ensure the studio clock is showing the correct time to ensure the broadcast starts on time.
Mix: Adjusting multiple sound elements into a pleasing whole via an audio console by a sound engineer, such as for a piece of music or a radio play, either live or for a recording.
Mixing desk: See Audio console
MS Stereo: Stands for Mid/Side microphone recording. A way to record in stereo that allows recording engineers to control the width of the stereo spread and that can be adjusted after the recording. Patented by EMI engineer Alan Blumlein in 1933.
Nagra: The world’s first portable tape recorder, invented by Polish inventor Stefan Kudelski, introduced in 1951. Heavily used in the film industry from the sixties to the nineties. “Nagra” is Polish for “will record.”
Neutral Room: A room in Studio 212 that could be used to replicate multiple neutral interior acoustic environments. No longer in existence.
Neve Capricorn: A high end digital audio mixing console. Used in Studio 212 until it was replaced by the Euphonix System 5-B console in the summer of 2003.
NGCN (Next Generation Converged Network): Developed by Rogers Cable Communications and Evertz Microsystems for the CBC to replace existing landlines, and launched in 2011, the NGCN network carries audio, video, and data content between CBC locations.
Packaging: Putting a radio show together for broadcast later.
Phantom Power: Provides power via microphone cables to condenser microphones and active direct boxes.
Pickup: Recording material either in a conventional studio or in a remote setting. It also means an actor or announcer redoing a line either because they’ve made a mistake or want an alternative take.
Polarity: Two possible choices that are mutually exclusive. In sound, polarity is a question of direction of flow of electrical current
Pot: Short for potentiometer, and another word for fader.
Potentiometer: A position sensor used to measure displacement in any direction. Potentiometers that slide up and down (faders) measure linear displacement and potentiometers that turn (rotary pots) measure rotational displacement.
Presentational Radio: Presenting content to listeners in a straightforward, unambiguous manner, such as on a newscast or interview show.
Pre-tape: Taping material for broadcast before the actual show.
ProTools: Professional digital audio editing software sold by Avid Technology
Public Address System (PA): A system of speakers, amplifiers, microphones and other assorted equipment to broadcast audio material such as voice and music in public spaces, either indoors or out.
Quarter-inch tape machine: Devices to record and playback audio using quarter inch tape. Sometimes called reel-to-reel machines. The workhorses of CBC Radio, usually four to a studio, during their heyday before the advent of digital desktop radio (D-Cart, Dalet, DaletPlus).
Radio: See Chapter Three.
Radio-Canada: The French language service of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Radio Master Control: The central hub, through which most CBC Radio shows passed before hitting the transmitters and the radios of the nation.
Radio Play: A story told by means of sound often employing multiple actors accompanied by sound effects and music.
Radio technician: An individual whose job it is to record, manipulate and broadcast sound
Rarefaction: A low concentration of air particles moving through space
Recording Room: A room in the basement of the Jarvis Street Radio building where radio technicians received and recorded audio feeds for later broadcast and for archival purposes. The room existed in the Toronto Broadcast Centre as well until the adoption of digital technology when it was replaced by a digital virtual recording room.
Reference Tone: A continuous tone, usually 1Kilohertz (1K) used to “line up” audio equipment (adjust playback and record levels). Reference tone is also used to ensure that the audio signal is travelling successfully from one location to another (i.e., one studio to another). This is referred to as “establishing continuity.”
Remote: A broadcast or recording outside of a conventional studio, often for a special event.
Representational radio: Content representing something other than what it actually is, such as the fiction of a radio play.
Rev 5: A type of outboard audio gear capable of producing multiple types of reverberation dating back to the 80s. In other words, it can make a person or music sound like it’s in different sized rooms anywhere from a closet or a theatre.
Reverb: Short for reverberation, reverb is the sound we hear bouncing back from various surfaces in our environment not including the source of the sound.
Rotary Pot: A device used to increase or decrease the volume of audio on a console, like faders only round. “Pot” is short for potentiometer.
Shure FP42: A small portable stereo mixer with four inputs and two outputs, great for remotes.
Sound check: Testing a sound system before a performance or broadcast to ensure that everything works and sounds good.
Splitting the board: Using an audio console for more than one purpose at time, such as recording a pickup with the main inputs and outputs while simultaneously dubbing separate content using auxiliary busses.
Sting: A brief piece of sound or music used to punctuate a radio program and/or separate two different sections of a radio program in a pleasing way.
Streeter: Short, snappily edited interviews with people out in the real world, “on the street.”
Studer 963: An analog console, quite common in CBC Radio packaging and live studios from the 90s on until the advent of digital consoles.
Studer On Air 2000: A digital audio console
Swap tone: Low frequency, barely audible tone added to the end of a recording on quarter inch tape for automation systems to detect to trigger a “swap” to the next tape containing additional programming.
Switched 56: A high quality telephone line.
Top and tail: insert leader tape before and after audio for broadcast on quarter inch tape to make it easier for technicians to cue them up.
Travelling Shot: A scene in television, film or radio in which the camera/microphone follows characters on the move without interruption.
Two-way: A recording usually involving a host in a studio in one location and a guest in another.
Video Switcher: Hardware used to switch between different audio and video sources such as television cameras, used during live or live-to-tape television productions.
Video Tape Recorder (VTR): Hardware used to record and play back video and audio from magnetic tape.
Voice track: A track in editing software containing voices, either actors, guests, or otherwise.
Voice tracking: Recording the voices of actors, performers, announcers and guests.
VU Meter: Stands for “volume unit” meter. Displays a representation of the level of audio in audio equipment.
Volume: How loud audio is after it’s been processed (i.e., put through a piece of gear such as an amp or speaker).
Wallbox: Usually located near the floor in studio performance spaces, wallboxes provide a means of plugging microphones and other audio gear to the console in the control room.
An excerpt from a memoir about working in radio called Adventures in the Radio Trade, anticipated publication date sometime in 2022:
In July, 1988, CBC Radio acquired a twenty-three year old with a lot of growing up yet to do. I wasn’t completely green, though. I’d been in broadcasting since the age of fourteen. At that age I’d begun volunteering at the local cable affiliate, Cable 5, in Summerside, PEI.
I loved working at Cable 5. I learned to operate the cameras and the big clunky Video Tape Recorders (VTRs) and I was especially fond of “switching” the shows on the cool looking switcher. My friends and I produced our own shows and worked on other peoples’ shows, often about music. At the same time I also worked at Three Oaks High School’s brand new and exceptionally well-run radio station under the leadership of teacher Ralph Carruthers, who launched at least two careers in broadcasting that I know of, and probably more.
That was all volunteer, though. I needed a part time job that actually paid money. So I got a job at MacDonald’s. I hated it there. The managers, only a little older than me, were always yelling and screaming at the rest of us, especially me, it seemed. I’d curse them angrily under my breath. Luckily, after one month they fired me.
“It’s not for everyone,” the franchise manager told me, not unkindly.
She meant that it wasn’t for immature fifteen-year olds who couldn’t be bothered to memorize what went on a Big Mac.
Getting fired from MacDonald’s was one of the happiest days of my life.
Had I not been fired from MacDonald’s I might never have got my first real job in radio. One cold November afternoon I cruised down Water Street in an Oldsmobile with my friend Justin Hickey at the wheels and two other pals, the four of us probably listening to classic Genesis. We passed Summerside’s local radio station, a 250 watt day-timer with the call letters CJRW, located at 1240 AM on the dial. I’d grown up listening to CJRW.
“Stop the car!” I shouted to Justin.
I jumped out, crossed the street, and entered CJRW’s front door. I climbed up a flight of stairs to CJRW’s reception area, walls festooned with plaques attesting to the station’s long history of community activity. Elton John was playing on a set of speakers: “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” the first time I’d ever heard that song. I’ve loved it ever since.
A lady greeted me at the reception desk (possibly Rose Anne Gaudet), super friendly (maybe she knew my mother).
“I’d like to apply for a job,” I told her.
She furnished me with an application. I filled it out as best I could. A man took me to a studio booth and gave me several sheets of thin yellow paper with dot matrix type. News, weather and sports. I recorded an audition tape on the spot. A month later, at home, the phone rang.
I recognized Lowell’s voice immediately. He was the first famous person I’d ever spoken to. Famous on PEI, anyway. “I’d like to offer you a job as a disc jockey. When can you start?”
I could barely believe my good fortune. Lowell and CJRW hired me to host two shifts each week. I had a six-hour long country music show on Friday nights and a rock show on Saturday nights. I hated country music. I grew to like it in time. Well, some of it. I worked at CJRW all through High School. I would have done it for free. I almost did do it for free: I earned $3.35 per hour, minimum wage at the time.
I darned near didn’t show up for my first shift (I was still the same kid who couldn’t memorize hamburger ingredients). I got confused about which week I was supposed to start. One of my fellow disc jockeys was Peter Arsenault (he went by Peter Scott on air). Peter happened to drive down High Street—my street—in his gold Pontiac Firebird Trans Am shortly before the start of my shift. Spotting me, he pulled up beside me and rolled down the window.
“You do realize you start tonight, don’t you?”
“Get in the damned car!”
He drove me to the station and put me on the air before a big silver console with rotary pots and two huge turntables. I learned how to cue up 7” 45 single records so they’d start an instant after introducing them (about one quarter turn back from where the needle hit the first sound). We played IDs and promos on cartridges (called “carts”). There was a quarter inch tape machine that looked rather daunting. For my first few shifts I got the guy who worked before me to cue it up. His name was Jim Murray and like me he’d go on to work for the CBC (they’d call him James Murray there).
I got nervous before every shift, but I was never nervous on air. I loved every second of it. I got to choose my own music. I played other peoples’ requests. Once, I sneezed on air. I learned not to do that. Once, introducing a record, I choked on a potato chip. I learned not to do that. I had two laughing fits on air—I never learned not to do that (I was a giddy teen-ager).
With a mere 250 watts, CJRW didn’t have a very strong signal, but it seemed to reach a lot of people. I grew close to my audience. I got calls from all over western PEI as well as Cap Pele, in New Brunswick, across the Northumberland Strait. They’d call to make requests. They’d call to say hi. They’d call week after week. They’d tell me I knew them but wouldn’t tell me who they were. Once, calling a friend during a show, I accidentally called the wrong number. A girl answered the phone. “Hey, you’re the guy on the radio!”
We had a good chat.
The name of the Friday night country show was The Ranch Party. I always opened it with Bobbie Nelson’s Down Yonder from Willie Nelson’s Red Headed Stranger. The station didn’t own that record; my father did. I always brought in a lot of my own stuff. I mixed the country up with folk music from time to time. Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers were favourites. I used to play this one song by them. One night after I played it a Ranch Party regular called up, an older Acadian woman.
“That song you just played?” she said. “You must never play it again.”
“It’s too sad.”
She wasn’t wrong:
Isn’t it grand, boys, to be bloody well dead? Let’s not have a sniffle, let’s have a bloody good cry And always remember the longer you live The sooner you’ll bloody well die.
I had always gotten a kick out of it. Young and fully alive, it didn’t apply to me. I could see how it might be considered a little morbid, though. I respected my listeners. I never played it again.
Another night, during the Saturday night rock show, a girl called up, not someone I knew.
“I love you!” she said, before hanging up.
I laughed. I was always getting calls like that. It was just some kid in town having fun, probably hanging out with a bunch of other kids. For a few short years me and my fellow disc jockeys John Burke and Peter Scott and Mike Surette and all the rest of them supplied the soundtrack of these kids lives, and we all had fun together, so much more fun than grilling hamburgers.
A version of this roughly half hour presentation was originally delivered to The Creative Academy for Writers. Why? Because my esteemed brother-in-law, Brian Wyvill (author of the highly entertaining time travel/seafaring novel The Second Gate), asked me to whip this up. And who can say no to Brian? I mean other than his wife, my sister Shawna. Well, plenty of people, maybe. But not me, he’s just too charming, so I created this, and presented it to the academy. And then I thought, why not just make it available to everyone?
So here it is.
Make of it what you will.
Now look. I don’t pretend to be the last word in creating audiobooks. This is just some general advice based on my experience as a sound guy and someone who’s recently turned a novel and a bunch of short stories into audiobooks. My goal is simply to provide a practical overview of how to make an audiobook, based on my experience.
I talk about the equipment you need, the preparation required, how to record your audiobook, a bit about editing and mastering your audiobook, and a bit about what distributors like Audible are looking for in terms of quality control.
I stumbled across the following recently which had appeared on an early version of this blog (July 14th, 2009, to be precise), before the blog self-destructed shortly afterward (one of a handful of blog implosions over the years). I like to recapture this sort of thing for the modern incarnation of Assorted Nonsense so that it doesn't get lost to time and also because it keeps alive the memory of some important, interesting people in my life.
aka “Inspector Nickles”(Photo by David Cooper, Shaw Festival.)
I was fortunate enough to work with Neil off and on over the course of two or three years. Although they don’t mention it in the notice at CBC.ca, one of Neil’s many accomplishments was starring as Inspector Quentin Nickles in The Investigations of Quentin Nickles , for CBC Radio’s Mystery Project.
Working on these plays I had the opportunity to observe Neil’s craft up close.
You had to be a skilled actor working on these shows. Producer/Director Barry Morgan was a one take wonder. Rarely did we ever make it up to take two. So the actors had to get it right the first time, and they almost always did. If we had to do a second take it was usually because one of us technical types had screwed something up, or one of the sound effects engineers was caught on tape snoring during a brief siesta (that actually happened once).
Neil also wrote/adapted several radio plays; I remember recording and mixing two or three wild and crazy examples of his work. The names escape me now, but I recall them as full of mirth and inventiveness.
I remember Neil Munro as not only a consummate professional but as a genuinely warm and friendly man. He deserved better than to have died at 62, it seems to me. As Truman Capote said, life is a moderately good play with a badly written third act.
In Neil’s case, I’m afraid someone eliminated the third act altogether.
So long, Inspector Nickles.
My friend and colleague Barry Morgan, whom I referenced in the post, responded with a comment which I thought was gently chiding in nature. I realized that I may have irked him slightly with my remark about doing everything in one take. I hope not, because Barry was a great guy and I hate the thought that I might have annoyed him.
Anyway, here's what he wrote in response:
Writer, Producer, Director, All Round Nice Guy
Joe, a really nice appreciation of Neil.
Perhaps I can clarify the “one take” reference.
It was because Neil brought his incredible energy and focus to the rehearsal session before we ever got to the studio floor. The work was already done. And beyond that his electricity energized his fellow cast members to the point that the performance bar was raised far above the level of `excellent`.
We have enjoyed a long history of fine radio actors from the days of John Drainie, Jane Mallet, Frank Perry and a great many others. Neil Munro was certainly among the front rank of those incredible talents.
It was a great privilege to have him around to make all of us look better.