Bits from Last Week's Radio
Bits from Last Week's Radio was a radio programme that aired from Jan 1995-July 1996. There were 24 hour-long episodes and it was broadcast on BBC Radio 1. It starred Greg Proops. It was written and produced by Eardrum Productions on behalf of Unique Broadcasting and recorded at The Sound Company in London by Joss Sanglier
The show was a mixture of music and sketches linked by Greg Proops with the sketches made to sound as if they were items collected from radio shows. In reality, of course, they were parodies written and produced by the team and performed by two teams of performers. The teams were split into "The Americans" and "The British," and were recorded separately. Sketches covered subjects such as Hospital Radio, the supposed original recording of the Hindenburg Disaster, the shooting of JFK, phone in programmes, religious programmes, news programmes and more.
Although the sketches were heavily produced to be as realistic as possible, at the end of the mixing process they were then degraded to make them sound as if they were recorded by listeners, or were from a very old archive. Particular attention was paid to, for instance, if the item would have been recorded from one reporters microphone. The sketch respected this and everything was recorded using just one microphone to give the right effect.
Technical Production Notes
The programme was produced in three stages:
The Sketches (the radio excerpts) were recorded dry in a radio studio at the Sound Company in London. The recordings were recorded onto the Fostex 2000 Digital Audio Workstation. As far as was possible the sketches were recorded to fake the supposed original conditions. So, for a Studio Radio Programme, the actors were seated and typical radio microphones where used. Where the sketch was a lone reporter recording a field report, the entire sketch was recorded on a single microphone being held by the actor and in Mono. Vintage sketches used vintage Microphones. The actors were encouraged to act out the sketch physically as well as vocally to give the best sense of movement. For example, in a sketch set in the Antarctic where a blizzard blows the studio door open, the actor leapt out of his chair and fought with the real studio door.
The mixing took place in a separate session, though in the same studio. Library effects were used for the atmospheres, but many spot effects were produced Foley style in the studio by Martin Simms (producer from Eardrum) and Joss Sanglier. This often entailed the two simply throwing themselves at cardboard boxes or beating up items of clothing. The audio was restricted to mimic the supposed reality of the sketch. As with the voice recordings, if the sketch was a lone reporter with a microphone, then all foley recordings were recorded on the same single microphone.
Once the sketches were finished and mastered, they were then degraded to more closely resemble a radio item recorded off air by a listener. This entailed frequency limiting and copying via analogue reel-to-reel tape to add tape noise and the occasional audio error.
The final shows were recorded "as live" at Unique Broadcasting where they were presented by Greg Proops and the sketches and the records were played into the show.
Notes and references
Lavalie, John. "Bits from Last Week's Radio." EpGuides. 21 Jul 2005. 29 Jul 2005 <http://epguides.com/Bitsfromlastweeksradio/>.
This was aired on BBC Radio 1 at 21:00 - 22:00 on Wednesdays.