Adventures of recording my radio show on the road

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Every week, for several years, I have recorded my segments for Computer Talk Radio, a syndicated program played on the air in the United States. 
Back in my Normal Apartment Days, I’d put a Recording sign on my apartment door, step into my office, and record. Only once did a friend — the amazing Andrew Coleman — walk in and make us laugh. But ever since I went Base-less,  I’ve never quite known exactly when or where each week’s recording would take place — or what challenges the location would bring. 

 Wanna skip the words? Just have a listen:

Months in NYC, 52 weeks in Central America, a year of house-sitting all over Los Angeles, and now weeks in Austin… 

  • I’ve huddled in closets.
  • I’ve walked dirt road of Roatan to get to a cellular signal.
  • I’ve recorded from a sales desk in an appliance store in a fancy mall in LaCeiba, Honduras as a befuddled but willing salesman watched and wondered just what he’d given me permission to do.
  • I’ve stood on a rooftop in the mountains of Guatemala (which failed so I had to email my offline recording).
  • I’ve run to Wendy’s in a San Salvador mall for its wi-fi when my iPhone wouldn’t pick up cellular data.
  • I’ve stood in public parks, sat on park benches, sat on street curbs… often while people wondered about the American who seemed to be talking to herself, aloud. Somehow I’d show the onlookers the microphone and they’d stand back quietly, understanding my oh-so-important mission.
  • A few weeks ago, I recorded from the driver’s seat or my car and continued while a large mosquito-ish flying animal came in through the slightly open window, and flitted in front of me. Listeners heard, “there’s a mosquito in here” but the show went on as always.
 Always, I kept my focus. Even today, but…

Of all the years, all the shows, all the locations and situations, though — tonight was the funniest.

I was at The Domain, an upscale sprawling outdoor mall in North Austin. I was actually at a restaurant bar’s happy hour at a business networking gathering. As I picked up my iPhone to enter a man’s contact info, I noticed Benjamin’s message: Are you ready to record? Umm… nope. Need a few minutes. I quickly paid my tab and said my good byes as I pulled my always-handy iRig Mic Cast out of my handy-dandy tech packet. I plugged it into the audio extender, launched Skype, and popped on one ear of my fabulous Urbanears Medis Forget-Me-Not so I could hear Benjamin.

Goodbyes said, I ran out seeking quiet. The mall? Music and people, so no. The Apple Store and it’s wi-fi. Helpful sales people so nope, and my T•Mobile data was sufficient tonight. I ran to the back parking lot but cars were parking and the freeway service road was busy. I kept walking — fast. Huddle behind Macy’s? The cell connection faltered, so not there.  By now I was near my car. Ah, my car. The quiet haven of my almost perfectly sealed Nissan. It worked well as a sheltered studio on various LA streets so why not in a quiet parking lot at the end of shopping hours?

I slipped into the passenger seat and stretched my legs up onto the dashboard as I opened the passenger window just enough to not suffocate in the humid heat of Austin. And we got started. All of this time, I passed very few cars. What were the chances that the car next to me would start and depart in the middle of our recording? Yep, it did. I saw it coming and shielded the mic, but it took Benjamin by surprise in the middle of his words from the other end of the iPhone. Stop. Rewind. Pick it up again. We’re ok. The show goes on. And then came the train…

Turns out, the trees that I thought sheltered a quiet parking spot away from the highway actually hid a train track! This time I was the one speaking as the rumble started. No biggie. I kept speaking. Focus. A few freight train cars won’t distract me. But the look of surprise on Benjamin’s face on my iPhone screen was too much for me. I suppressed the laugh and kept talking — and the train kept coming.

Forget a description: we kept the out-take for ya!


Rewind. Pick it up again. I’m ok. We finally stop laughing (sort of) and the show goes on.
And then came the gate bounce. 

We got the topic covered, as always, and then had enough time to share the train story on the show. Our regular listeners have followed my travels and are well versed in the tech tales of my travel so we let them in on this one.

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